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Readers Respond: How do you handle public speaking?

Responses: 39

By

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.

To Forever Embarrassed

Dear Forever Embarrassed: You will not always be embarrassed in front of people if you just keep trying. So you had one bad Day! No reason to give up. You could join a group like Toastmasters where they ideally would give you small speaking roles before you ever had to tackle the podium. Never think that just reading off the page is preferable to your own background knowledge and experiences. Those are 1000 times more interesting than rehashed information. Please don't give Up! I was extremely shy as a kid, I have always had a fear of speaking in public, and now I am in a humorous speech contest where I might potentially go in front of 200 people if I advance in my division. Someday you will be the person on the podium if you stay true to yourself.
—Guest Carol Anson

Tired of speech anxiety

I've always hated public speaking. Ever since i was little i would get really shy when someone wanted me to speak in front of people. Its so frustrating because i know nothing is going to happen to me but i just cant make myself calm down. They put me in speech and debate, i tried to do everything to get out but i could'nt. So i had to do impromptu speaking today, which mean you don't know your topic until you go up. I had magic tricks and i did'nt know what to say, so when i went up i was doing nervous gestures and my voice was really shaking. The teacher told me to stop and try to calm down. Which is so embarrassing since everyone is staring at me. I went up like 5 minutes later and did it again, but with a different topic. My voice was still shaking but not as bad, and i mad more eye contact. But now i'm so sad because everyone was all fine expect me. Its so embarrassing. I really want to get over this anxiety..
—Guest maia

Unconquerable Fear

I am in high school and have a real fear of public speaking. I usually am pretty confident but sometimes get nervous. Voice cracks are my main problem. I've been chosen for oratory competitions but I always pass up the opportunity because of stage fright and I really want to overcome this fear since living in this era requires public speaking abilities. I do hope to overcome this fear one day and hopefully all of those people do too who are facing the same unfortunate phobia as me. Thanks
—Guest Esmeralda

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

help

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.
—qualityforone

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

CANNOT WAIT TO BE FREE

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

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