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Readers Respond: How do you handle public speaking?

Responses: 36


Updated June 11, 2009

Most people are at least somewhat nervous when it comes to speaking in public. Others cannot even fathom getting up in front of an audience. How do you handle public speaking? Do you avoid it at all costs? Suffer through it and try to hide your anxiety? Or have you found a way to keep your anxiety in check? Whatever your experiences, we want to hear about them. Share Your Experiences

Shaky voice-HELP

I've never been good at public speaking. My voice starts shaking and I can never stop it during my speech. Just last week, I had to do a speech in front of the class. I started off fine, and I felt pretty comfortable, but in the last half of my speech my voice started trembling and all the pressure started crushing down on me. I had stopped to take a few breaths, which didn't help and ended up rushing the end. When I got off I had tears in my eyes-from what I don't know know, probably the stress and pressure I was feeling throughout my speech. People told me to practice and I have been, I practice heaps before the presentation and I've been doing public speaking at school for like. 5 consecutive years now, but I'm not improving in any possible way. Please help
—Guest Shinomurai

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


I feel that i was born for a great purpose - to help people & speak-up.. But in order to do that - first I'll have to conquer my fears of public speaking. So I cannot wait until the day I start living the life & purpose I was meant to. I need some sure method that can help me with this anxiety - Otherwise, I shall despair, because I have been trying for so long with no success!
—Guest kay

Forever embarrassed

Today I did a presentation in my high school government class. I have always been terrified of speaking in front of people. So when I have to do a presentation I try to find ways that will calm me down. Today I used a visual aide (a PowerPoint) to distract the students a little and even asked the teacher to turn out the lights because I feel that may help. But as soon as I began to talk I could hear my voice shake more and more and kept imagining the students saying she is so nervous... I ran out of breath and said sorry I need a minute and my mind just went blank. It took me what felt like years to find the notes to jog my memory. After I resumed my voice didn't shake as much but I was so angry at myself for yet again embarrassing myself in front of my peers. I was trying to be different by adding on info to the presentation instead of reading straight off the paper like everyone else, but in the end, I would have been better off just reading word for word...
—Guest Jlb

Fear of public speaking

I too have fear of public speaking. I just had one today. I forgot my starting sentence once I got on stage even when I had been practicing. I felt embarrassed and sad after the speech worst still my director gave a disapproving face. Feel very very bad now.
—Guest Asa

God knows

I have the symptoms not only while speaking in front of a group of people, but also when I'm just reading - even a very short paragraph - sitting on my seat, knowing that nobody is watching me. Just knowing that they're hearing me is enough to feel terrible. Sometimes I feel that deep breathing worsens my palpitations and anxiety. Breathing in short, fast breaths helps more. Once I took my perfume bottle with me and inhaled it now and then before my presentation. It helped a little. Sorry if there's any mistakes in grammar or spelling! My first language is not English. Language classes are where you have to face anxiety a lot. I remember one rainy night I was walking to class filled with anxiety. I talked to God, imagining myself as a heroine in a cruel war nobody could see except me and my God, and kept going.
—Guest happy anxious Pharm.D

my biggest fear but i want to conquer it

Nothing scares me more than having to speak in front of a group of people. I have always been a shy person but have learned to hide it in general day-to-day living. To have to speak to an audience would worry me for months beforehand, even though deep down I know I can do it I just feel so awkward so I try everything to avoid it. We have a men's ministry at church soon so I will be expected to speak. I would be really glad if I COULD go through with it so much so that I have booked myself to see a counsellor to see if that would help.
—Guest denice

beta blockers

My fear of speaking in public has prevented me from advancing in an academic career. Sometimes while speaking, I feel that I can't continue. I lose sight of what I want to say, and freeze. Afterwards, I am mortified. Other times, in front of a class or a group of people with whom I feel comfortable, I speak smoothly enough. But each time is a trial, and only rarely am I not self-conscious or initimidated by the situation. Recently, my doctor prescribed a beta blocker that actors use for stage fright; it helped me! On one recent occasion, I should have taken this beta blocker but didn't as I hadn't anticipated speaking spontaneously before 100 people at a conference (maybe it was the mike!). I tried to overcome my fear, but panicked anyway, was breathless and certain that I would not make it to the end of the sentence. Such embarrassment! Practice may help, but beta blockers really help. So does knowing that others suffer from this fear. What causes this, do you think? Thank you!
—Guest public speaking

Public Speaking

I go to an advanced high school, and we have a class called speech class where all we do is write and give speeches- aah!!! I have SAD. I hate myself for it but then love myself for it because I try to volunteer myself first. When I go first, I crumble, but slowly rebuild myself and my confidence. Over time, my SAD problems have nearly disappeared
—Guest Niki c

Overcoming the fear

I really don't have a fear of speaking in public; I actually love it. However, I am human and I do get a little nervous, but it works in a positive way for me. An unconventional way to assist in overcoming that fear is to listen to your favorite song that amps you up every time you hear it just before you give your presentation. It will help take away your jitters. Some may argue that you should spend that last few minutes preparing, but truthfully, if you are still going over that speech in your head 5 minutes before you are to give it, then you really aren't prepared are you?
—Guest Shawn

I hate public speaking!

Reading other folks experiences made me laugh so hard I can truly relate. My heart pounds, voice cracks and shakes, hand shakes and I get so nervous I sweat in my butt and end up with a big wet stain! I hate public speaking. Helps to know I'm not alone.
—Guest Tammy

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How do you handle public speaking?

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