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Readers Respond: How do you handle public speaking?

Responses: 60


Updated June 11, 2009

Help maybe?

I am actually presenting something in about an hour and I've been freaking out for two weeks! Usually what happens is that I see everyone else's projects and I start thinking mine is crap! My stomach is all knotted my hands are clammy and I get really shaky and start blushing. What helps me sometimes is to tune every other presentation out and pretend its just me presenting and the professor grading. Or just let the classroom fade away into darkness and pretend youre by yourself. If you have a professor, like I do, that calls you out or asks questions in the middle of your presentation and you don't know the answer, just blow it off with a shrug, "the topic was a bit confusing, this is all I got." If you show some sort of effort and accept your mistakes usually things will go well. Presenting isn't really a big deal, weather youre in high school, college or even work your peers won't remember your presentation at the end of the day, only you will.
—Guest Kayla

Can Act, Can't Present

The weird thing is, I'm in drama club and have been for four years. I can get up in front of three hundred plus people and act my part no problem. But when I had to do an oral presentation for class, I got in front of the class, said maybe three words, then had a really bad panic attack. I have no idea why I can act in the play, but not do presentations for class.
—Guest UncleGibby

Just flat out stressed for days before

I don't understand whenever I read from a text book for the teacher I can read through it like pie, when I have to get in front of the class I start to shake my voice will rattle and feel like I'm going to pass out I don't understand all the other kids in my class can do it great I look at other people's strategy like stretching before a presentation that doesn't work. But I think it will get easier after continuous presentations but I'm just worried when I get to college to give a presentation in front of a big class like 100's instead of like 20 to 30.
—Guest Guest


I honestly think reading all these responses actually makes me feel a little more confident now. I don't think my anxiety will go away, but it's so nice to hear that I am not the only one. Everyone here seems to suffer the same way I do and I don't feel so alone now. It's nice to read people's responses to this problem rather than ads for what you can buy to "treat" this.
—Guest SAD

college presentation

I'm absolutely petrified of doing a presentation. I can imagine it going okay until I actually stand up there, I start to shake. I freeze and can't talk. I can feel my heart beat in my head I go really hot and red and I just feel like an embarrassment. I have a presentation tomorrow and I'm actually crapping myself about it. I find it hard to read off paper so I'm thinking of just having flash cards instead will this help or not??
—Guest han

Possible SAD?

When I have to give an oral presentation I shake almost uncontrollably in my seat. When I have to go up I have trouble breathing and I find it difficult to maintain eye contact. I usually end up mumbling or getting a squeaky voice. I feel uncomfortable in my own shoes and sometimes beforehand I stay home or end up leaving school to go home from a really bad panic attack.
—Guest Lara

Scared of speaking in front of crowd

Well , i have a fear of getting up in front of people and speaking. When i have to get in front of my classes and show my projects, I shake, get sick to my stomach, and can't speak, my voice sounds weird and I studder. I deal with it this way: I practice in front of my friends or family, I act like I am talking to them when I am in front of my classes. My mother has anxiety disorders really bad, she gets panic attacks. I think I am going to turn out the same way.
—Guest Hayden

Feel Cowardly

I have not always had fear in public speaking, only occassionally. Now, that I am older and more tired, I tend to stress more and am more weary. I have found out that I have to brief a major general in two days for someone else that bailed at the last moment. There will be about 50 sets of judging eyes staring at me when I discuss someone else's charts. I shake, sweat under the arms and butt crack, heart pounds, get dizzy, voice shakes, arms tremble, want to poop, feel weak, and want to just die. In the end, I tell myself to just get on with it, it will soon be over and I can go on with life. I have to develop a sense of not caring about what people think about me; it is who I am. If they don't like it they can brief it!
—Guest JFS


I can relate to you all, I am 27 and I work on a in work program which involves me having to deliver a 1hr welcome session 2x a week up until recently we have had very limited numbers no more than 6 but even that I've struggled with but lately numbers have exploded and I'm delivering to groups of people 13+ I'm terrified all week and feel physically sick the night before and loose sleep- I think I am most worried about being challenged in front of a group of people, I have to Do it as its part of my job but is making me so unhappy. My heart pounds, tummy does cart wheels, I get sweaty palms and I shake and I talk so quickly to get things over with- can anyone give me any advice as I'm on the verge of getting a new job due to this.
—Guest Anon

Life time of difficulty

I have had a fear of public speaking all my life which really makes me wonder why I ended up in a sales mangement career that requires me to do presentations to large groups 2-3 times per year. Unfortunatley for me it has never got any easier, I seem to just get through by doing weeks of practice and then race through my presentation at lightning speed and resume my seat as soon as possible. Each time I feel regret that I couldn't give a better account of myself.
—Guest John

Complete mess

I am terrified of public speaking. I am in my final year of uni and I always try to avoid it. But this time presentations are a weighty part of the course work and I just have to do it. I totally relate to most of the responses here. If only I could just have that confidence to speak in public.
—Guest Tina


So many of these stories seem to be from younger people---good luck. Have been through CBT, Hypno, "relaxation", and countless medicines. Beta blockers DID NOT help. Currently on Prozac and Xanax with no help. Just what is it in the amygdala that can't be controlled by medications?? Have heard that a bacterial infection can be a part of the etiology of phobia (stage fright) but can't find definitive analysis. Would love to hear from others who have researched this.

Unbelievably Amazing!!

At my first two years in university, public speaking was a bit of hell to me...My voice would tremble. But, currently am begining to enjoy public speaking. My #secret? 1] Believe that everyone experiences some degree of anxiety before public speaking_you are not the only one. 2] if doing a group presentation, be the first to speak by doing a brief introduction {it will build your confidence} before others take over. With time you'll begin to have confidence of handling the remaining bits of presentatiöns. 3] put yourself in positions that require you to address people {practice make perfect}, believe you me, the anxiety will start to reduce to manageable limits overtime!
—Guest Gona

Bombs Away!!

I had a presentation today that made me so nervous that I literally almost passed out. I have ADHD so it's easy for me to forget what I'm talking about even if I prepare well before hand. I probably could have played off most of my anxiety if it weren't for my voice sounding like a dying warbler in the woods!!!! Today was absolutely horrible and embarrassing so coming here and reading these responses has actually made me feel a little better! Thanks :D
—Guest Tjay

some hints that are SURPRISINGLY HELPFUL

Hello, I have the same problems. Hint No. 1: Physical activity. Immediately after running 1 km, nobody CAN be nervous. An experiment: run 1 km, wait 1 minute. Then talk and TRY to be nervous! The principle: Panic is a very old natural response to danger - the body wants to fight or to flight (=intense physical activity). So in the evening before a public speech, I walk quickly for 2 hours. The next morning I walk quickly another 2 hours. I try to tire my hands, too. Last 10 minutes before my speech, I do any intense exercise (anything that makes me breath quickly). When necessary, I go to WC in order to be alone. /2/ Stress causes our brain to consume sugar from the blood. Prolonged stress leads to low glucose levels which AUTOMATICALLY lead to nervousness, trembling etc. So just before a speech, I eat a piece of chocolate ("quick sugar") and 1 apple ("slow sugar"). 3/ Summary: A very physically tired person cannot be nervous, provided he or she has good glucose-level of blood. - Good luck!
—Guest guest Mira

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