Severe presentation anxiety

30 Ways to Manage Speaking Anxiety | University Counseling Service

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Initial considerations

Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking

  • It is the single most common phobia (fear)

  • Approximately 75% of people experience this

  • You are not alone in your fear

  • You cannot eliminate your fear–but you CAN manage and reduce it. 

Thirty ways to manage public speaking anxiety

Getting Ready 
  1. Select a topic of interest to you

  2. Prepare carefully–know your material

  3. Practice–rehearse your talk with a friend

  4. Know your audience

  5. Challenge negative thinking–make 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.

  6. Expect positive reactions–expect success!

  7. Know the room–if unfamiliar, visit your speaking space before you talk.

  8. Employ aerobic exercise strategies–daily aerobic exercise can cut anxiety by 50%.

  9. Eat for success–foods containing tryptophan (dairy products, turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Eliminate caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.

  10. Sleep for success–know and get the number of hours of sleep you need for optimal performance. 

The Day of the Presentation 

11.   Eat several hours before the talk–not immediately before 

12.  Dress for success–your success! Dress comfortably and appropriately for the situation. Look your best

13.  Challenge negative thinking–Continue positive thinking

14.  If you need to, express your fears to a friend 

15.  Review 3 x 5 cards of inspirational thoughts

16.  Practice your talk one last time

17.  Go to the room early to ready equipment and your podium.

18.  Exercise immediately before the talk to reduce adrenalin levels.  

  • Employ anxiety reduction techniques
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Deep muscle relaxation
  • Visualization strategies
  • Deep, rhythmic breathing (4 hold 7) 

19.  Use the restroom immediately before the talk 

20. Take a glass of water to the talk 


The Presentation: A positive experience stemming from careful preparation! 

21.  Interpret anxiety symptoms as excitement

22. Use the podium to practice grounding strategies. Touch the podium to steady yourself and to remind yourself that you are safely connected to the ground which is firm and steady beneath your feet.

23. Take a security blanket with you–a complete typed version of your talk to only be used as a backup strategy.

24. Use tools to reduce audience attention on you.

  • PowerPoint presentation 
  • Video film clips
  • Handouts
  • “Show and tell” objects to pass

25.  Get out of yourself–engage the audience

26.  Look at friendly faces in your audience

27.  Use humor as needed

28.  Use the room’s physical space to your advantage–walk around as appropriate.

29.  Appropriately regulate your voice

  • Speak clearly–enunciate
  • Open your mouth–do not mumble
  • Slow down if necessary
  • Lower your voice–speak from your diaphragm
  • Project your voice–use energy when you speak
  • Use appropriate animation 
Additional Considerations 
  • Seek out public speaking opportunities to desensitize (reduce) your fear of communication apprehension.

  • Consider use of anti-anxiety medication

  • Join Toastmasters International to have a supportive and safe way to practice

    public speaking

  • Gain experience–practice makes perfect. 


Speech Anxiety | Department of Communication

Most people experience some level of speech anxiety when they have to speak in front of a group; in fact, public speaking is many people’s greatest fear. Speech anxiety can range from a slight feeling of “nerves” to a nearly incapacitating fear. Some of the most common symptoms of speech anxiety are: shaking, sweating, butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, and squeaky voice. Although it is often impossible to completely eliminate speech anxiety there are a variety of ways to deal with it and even make it work to your advantage.

About Speech Anxiety

Experiencing speech anxiety is normal. Nearly everyone gets nervous when they have to give a speech or a presentation, even experienced speakers. The speakers that look relaxed and confident have simply learned how to handle their anxiety and use it to enhance their performance.

Most of your anxiety is not visible to the audience. You may feel like you are shaking uncontrollably but people in the audience probably cannot even tell. Gain confidence from the fact that you are the only one who knows how nervous you are.

The audience wants you to succeed. Novice speakers commonly feel that the people in the audience are extremely critical and want them to fail. This is very rarely the case. Think about situations where you have been an audience member. Did you want the speaker to fail? Probably not, in fact we are usually quite supportive of speakers and may even feel bad for them if they stumble over a word or lose their train of thought. Most audiences you will address as a student are rooting for you.

Anxiety decreases as a speech progresses. Speech anxiety is usually worst right before a speech and at the beginning of the speech. Most people find that once they get through the introduction their anxiety begins to decrease and confidence increases.

Tips for Dealing with Speech Anxiety

Before the speech . . .

Identify the cause of your nervousness. Write down the reasons why you are nervous to give a speech or presentation. If you come up with something like, “I’m afraid I’ll look stupid” dig a little deeper. What would make you look stupid? You may find that you are really afraid that you will forget what you wanted to say. This will help you pinpoint specific things to work on. If you are afraid you will forget what you wanted to say then spending extra time practicing your speech should reduce that anxiety.

Choose topics that you are interested in. We do not always get to choose topics that we speak about. If you are able to choose your topic pick one that interests you. It is much easier to spend time researching and preparing a presentation on a topic that you care about than one you have no interest in. You will also be more inclined to display enthusiasm about a topic that you enjoy.

Prepare your speech early and thoroughly. Having to prepare a speech at the last minute will only increase your anxiety. After you have prepared your speech PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!! Practice delivering your speech at least 7 to 10 times before your actual presentation. Be sure that you know the organization of your main points to avoid losing your place. Watch yourself in the mirror while you deliver your speech, this will allow you to see your gestures and body language and practice making eye contact. You can also give your speech to friends or family members and ask them for feedback. Audio or videotaping your speech are other ways to evaluate and improve your delivery. If you are given a time limit for your presentation be sure to use a stopwatch as you give your speech. Time each practice run and make changes to ensure that you will be able to stay within your allotted time. Keep in mind that most of us speak more quickly when we are in front of a real audience.

Know your topic. If you have researched the topic thoroughly you will be certain that you are presenting accurate information and you will be able to answer questions that the audience may ask. These things will greatly increase your confidence.

Be aware of the speech situation. One of the hardest things for a speaker to deal with is a surprise. While we cannot completely avoid surprises we can minimize them. Make sure that you are aware of all aspects of the speech situation ahead of time. Know your time limit, the size of your audience, the make-up of your audience (see audience analysis), what equipment you will have available to you (computer, overhead, podium, easel, etc.), and any other details that may affect your presentation. Also, if you are using any type of technology in your speech (i.e. a PowerPoint presentation) be sure that you have a back-up plan (see Visual Aids and Technology). Technology can be a wonderful tool but it can also be unpredictable.

Set realistic expectations. No one is perfect. Public speaking is difficult to master even seasoned speakers make mistakes. Instead of telling yourself that you have to deliver your speech flawlessly, think realistic things like, “If I lose my place I will calmly scan my notes and then continue my speech” or “Small mistakes aren’t going to ruin my speech.”

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones and visualize success. Thinking negative thoughts increases anxiety. When a negative thought comes to mind try to immediately replace it with positive thoughts. For example, if you think, “I’m going to forget what to say and just stand there,” replace that with thoughts like, “I’ve done a great deal of research and I know this topic well” and “I have practiced my speech many times and I’m going to deliver it just like I practiced.” Other performers such as athletes and musicians have found that visualization can be a powerful tool to improve performance. See yourself delivering the speech with confidence and successfully conveying your message.

Continue gaining experience. One of the best ways to combat speech anxiety is to gain speaking experience. Take any opportunity that you have to speak in public. Speak in your classes or volunteer to give presentations for groups you are involved in - anything that gives you a chance to hone your speaking skills.

On the day of the speech . . .

Exercise. Exercising on the day of a speech can help reduce anxiety and stress.

Use relaxation techniques. Simple relaxation techniques lessen anxiety and allow them to focus on the task at hand. Some of the most common relaxation techniques are: taking deep breaths, tightening and then relaxing your muscles, and visualizing a peaceful scene.

Accept fear and use it. Accept the fact that you are nervous (remember it’s normal to experience speech anxiety) and use that nervous energy to enhance your delivery. Use the extra adrenaline that you get from fear to invigorate your gestures and enthusiasm about your topic. Remember, even the best speakers get nervous, but they use it to their benefit.

Wear clothes that you feel confident in. Most of us have a few outfits that we feel particularly comfortable and confident in. These are good things to wear when you present a speech. If you feel good about how you look standing in front of your audience, you can put all of your focus on your message. You do not want to distract your audience or yourself by adjusting your clothes or hair during your speech.

Act confident and do not profess your anxiety to the audience. Remember that your nervousness is usually invisible to your audience. If you act confident your audience will assume that you are. This can become a positive circular process: the audience gives you the respect of a competent speaker, you receive positive feedback that gives you more confidence in your ability, and the audience gives you more respect. A common mistake that novice speakers make is telling the audience that they are nervous. This does not lessen your anxiety and it tends to make your audience uncomfortable since they want you to succeed. Acting confident is a much more effective strategy.

Find friendly faces in the crowd. While you are speaking find one or two people in the audience that are giving you positive feedback (nodding in agreement, smiling when appropriate, etc.). When you feel nervous make eye contact with those people. Their friendly faces will give you encouragement.

Find ways to hide your anxiety. If your mouth goes dry, be sure to bring a glass of water with you when you speak. If you sweat excessively, wear clothes that will not allow your audience to detect it. If your hands shake, use gestures that mask the shaking.

7 Tips to Manage Public Speaking Anxiety - Reksoft

We've all had to speak in public at least once. Be it a school report, a thesis defense or a job interview. Even a toast at a best friend's wedding or a first acquaintance at an interest club is also a kind of self-presentation. Although we have known such experiences since childhood, we are still afraid to speak in public.

How can you learn to enjoy performing and stop being petrified with horror? We share the advice of psychologists, coaches and managers

Who needs public speaking

Many people often have to speak in front of people at work. Managers, recruiters, executives, coaches, teachers face this challenge every day. However, the ability to adequately prove oneself in front of an audience, to convey one's thoughts, to agree, to build a dialogue correctly, will be useful not only within the framework of a separate profession. Each of us has to contact with people every day countless times.

If you are afraid to be in front of an audience, it can become a constant source of stress. Let's talk about where fears come from, how to calm the excitement and learn to feel free in front of an audience.

Why are we scared

Remember how you felt before going out in public. Shaking knees, sweaty palms, a lump in my throat, thoughts chaotically huddling together, a feeling of anxiety that is so difficult to cope with ... Know that you are not alone - about 95% of people experience the same thing.

This fear is difficult to deal with because it is caused by a whole set of subconscious anxieties. “What if I forget my speech or stumble on the price?” “They will laugh at me, colleagues will stop respecting me or condemn me. ” As a rule, anxiety is caused by triggers: our psychological “tricks” or external circumstances.


Uncertainty occurs when we cannot control a situation. It is impossible to predict the outcome of events, and this frightens and gives rise to a feeling of anxiety.

Viktoria Pluzhnikova, Leading HR Manager at Reksoft IT Company :

“Any normal person is afraid of the unknown, of new conditions. This is the way out of the comfort zone. In addition, when a person presents himself, he finds himself in the position of being evaluated. How others perceive us does not always coincide with our opinion. The brain senses this and activates a defense mechanism. Perfectionists are especially prone to such experiences. Trying to do everything perfectly, a person drives himself because of the high demands of his own self-esteem and increases his fear.

Evaluation of others

The desire to be part of a group is inherent in us by evolution. To survive and feel safe, people had to unite. When we speak to an audience, we are in an unusual situation: "one against the crowd." Standing out from the team is more difficult than staying in the shadows.

Inner Critic

That same voice in our head that makes us doubt ourselves. Instead of finding the words of support that are needed at the moment of excitement, we begin to criticize ourselves, look for flaws and set ourselves up for failure in advance. In such a state, it is easy to fall into despair, to let fear prevail.

External conditions

Circumstances also influence how we feel. Even if you have been studying speech all night and are deeply versed in the topic, external factors can distract and confuse your thoughts. Extraneous noise, too bright light, the organizer changed the venue at the last moment.

Fear grows gradually. Slight excitement can turn into a real panic. Therefore, your task is to get anxiety under control as early as possible.

Tricks that don't work

Most of the popular advice we hear when we get excited is actually of questionable effectiveness. Let's take a closer look at a few not particularly effective, but replicated tricks.

  • "Forget fear, it doesn't exist" . When we ask for support from loved ones, we often hear: “Don’t worry so much, it’s still normal.” But fear is a very strong feeling, and it is not so easy to ignore it.
  • "Learn gestures and postures, walk around the stage a lot" . Standing in a “strong position”, walking around the stage, actively gesticulating to show your confidence is another popular technique. It can only work if you're used to using gestures every day. Public speaking is stressful in itself. Constantly thinking about how to stand in the “correct” position or effectively wave your hand will not add confidence, but will only confuse you. Behave on stage the way you feel comfortable. This will help you focus on the really important points - your speech and the topic of the report.
  • "Dress well to impress" . At the first meeting, people evaluate each other by appearance, it's true. Looking good on stage is important, but don't try to impress with fancy clothes or extravagant hair. Appearance should not distract from the main purpose of the speech - your speech. In addition, if in ordinary life you never dress like this, then on stage you will feel “not at ease”. And that will only add to the excitement.
  • "Drink - alcohol helps to relax" . In a state of stress, it is already difficult for us to concentrate. Alcohol will only interfere with concentration and cloud your thoughts. Taking sedatives is also not worth it: they can cause drowsiness and a "cotton" state. It is better to drink plain water to avoid dehydration. In a state of mental stress, our brain consumes a lot of energy, which requires water to produce. Therefore, when we are nervous, we feel thirsty more than usual.
  • "Imagine the audience naked" . When a person stands alone in front of a crowd, he is in a more vulnerable position. It is believed that if you imagine others in a ridiculous way, you can feel your advantage and become bolder. However, most likely, you will just get distracted and feel uncomfortable. The advice can only work if such fantasies do not bother you.
How to deal with your fear of speaking

1. Determine the causes

To get your emotions under control, you need to understand what causes them. Track your feelings, think about what scares you the most. Are you afraid that your opinion will not agree and be judged? Can't answer audience questions? Are you an introvert and are you uncomfortable in society? By identifying the causes of fear, you will find your "weaknesses" and better prepare, build a plan of action. Having an understanding of how to get out of the situation, you feel more confident.

2. Change the focus of attention

The most common mistake of a beginner speaker is to replay unpleasant scenes in his head. “What if I forget the words, trip, fall, or the presentation doesn’t open?” Don't dwell on negative things and beat yourself up. Try to shift your focus and focus on the positives. Imagine: what will this performance give you? You have the opportunity to convey your thoughts, share knowledge, prove yourself as a professional. People came to listen to you, which means they are quite positive and are not going to condemn you at all.

3. Understand why you are performing

If you are required to perform just for show, then what difference does it make how it goes? You complete your task, and what happens next is not so important. But if the performance means a lot to you, imagine what opportunities will open up for you as a result.

4. Prepare to the max

Make the preparation process enjoyable and interesting. Understand the topic, find interesting information, facts, exceptional cases, get ready to answer questions. Your presentation should be captivating for both you and the audience. The more you know and the better you master the material, the more confident you feel.

5. Practice more

Good speaking comes with practice. Repeat your speech more often, work out the pitch. It’s definitely not worth reading the text monotonously from a sheet, but it’s also not worth memorizing complex formulations. The best thing is when your speech sounds natural, logical. Try rehearsing in different places: first at home, where nothing distracts you, then complicate the task - go to a park or a cafe. Having tried yourself in different conditions, you can more easily adapt to an unfamiliar environment.

6. Engage the audience in dialogue

Listening to a speaker live is not the same as watching a recording of a lecture on a soulless laptop screen. You and your viewers need to get feedback from each other. By building a dialogue with the audience, you can create the right atmosphere in the hall, make people listen to you more attentively and perceive you more loyally.

7. Find moral support

Sometimes the right words spoken at the right time help create the right mood. It is important for us to feel that we have supporters who also worry about us. That we are not alone in this situation and people believe that we will succeed. Find a supportive environment and avoid toxic people who can throw you off balance.

The most important thing is to understand that you are performing for the people who have come to listen to you. Nobody expects hat tricks from you: the audience wants to get interesting information and have a good time. This means that they are no less interested in the success of your performance than you are. Enjoy the process, take it as a new experience that will help you become better and open up new opportunities.

Source: Just a job

Photo: Shutterstock

8 Miracle Ways to Cope with Fear of Public Speaking

Are you afraid to answer in class, speak up in a meeting, make a toast at a birthday party? Learn how to get rid of the fear of public speaking for good!

Test for the level of English

Find out your level, get recommendations for learning and a promotional code for English lessons as a gift palpitations, nausea? You are not alone! According to psychiatrists, 95% of people experience similar symptoms before a performance. For those who study English, fear of the audience often becomes a difficult and difficult problem to overcome. Stage fright can haunt you for years - so let's start fighting it right now! In our article, you will find the 8 most effective ways to cope with your own excitement and declare yourself in front of any audience in full voice!

Advice No.

1: Breathe evenly

When a person is nervous, the first thing that gives him away is uneven, erratic breathing. Try to restore normal breathing rhythm! However, it is not necessary to breathe too deeply - this can be noticed from the audience. Calm even breathing will help slow down the heartbeat, and therefore drive away the feeling of anxiety (science-proven fact).

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Tip #2: Drink water

During times of extreme excitement, many people experience dry mouth - in English dry mouth ("dry mouth") or cotton mouth ("cotton mouth"). The secret is simple: drink more fluids! Stock up on water, drink as needed: the more nervous you are, the more you will want to drink.

Tip #3: Take a walk

Walking helps to regulate the heart rate and therefore has a calming effect, which we will use. It is not necessary to take a long walk - a three-minute walk around the conference room will be enough. This is really a very good proven way to relieve nervous tension before a performance.

Tip #4: Memorize the Key Phrases of Your Speech

Before you speak, try to memorize the key phrases of your speech to automatism. This will save you from having to stop during a speech, looking for words: the necessary expressions will “bounce off your teeth”.

Tip #5: Perfection is impossible

Many of us forget this. We meet a native English speaker and think: “How beautiful his speech is, I wish I could speak like that someday! ..”. In fact, even native speakers make mistakes: grammatical, speech, reservations ( "slip of the tongue ") - this is normal, everyone makes mistakes. In fact, the best way to learn a language is to speak without fear of making a mistake. So make mistakes - don't try to be perfect.

Tip #6: Draw Speech Outlines

A Speech Outline is a clear graphic plan, a kind of map of your speech, which will help you stay on topic and remember what you planned to say during your speech. Such schemes are well suited for presentations, business meetings. You will not have to strain, think about the order of statements, etc. - your speech will literally stand before your eyes.

Tip #7: Use Self-Suggestion

Namely, address yourself with words of encouragement: “I will perform well”, “I have a great pronunciation”, or at least: “I know the language not so bad” (just kidding!). If you say to yourself: “Everything is terrible. I will never be able to perform, everyone will laugh at me, ”failure cannot be avoided. As the Americans say, “Think positively!”, a positive attitude is our powerful weapon to help move mountains (“ to move mountains ”) !

Tip #8: Be prepared!

And yet, the main guarantee of the success of your speech is a solid knowledge of the text. You should learn the speech long before the performance and try to pronounce it in front of a friend, acquaintance, relative. You can record your speech on video and critically evaluate the “screen test” - the main thing is that you do not perceive the upcoming performance as a stressful situation.

The King's Speech (“The King speaks!”)

Meanwhile, the fear of public speaking did not spare the offspring of the royal Windsor dynasty. The father of the now reigning Queen Elizabeth, George VI was extremely excited when it was necessary to make a public speech. Suffering from stuttering, for a long time he could not turn to his subjects, who in those difficult times (and the Second World War was on) more than ever expected words of encouragement and support from their king.

It is this true story that formed the basis of the film The King's Speech (“The King's Speech!”). The title role is played by the brilliant Colin Firth, who received his only Oscar for Best Actor in this film.

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