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Readers Respond: How do you handle public speaking?

Responses: 60

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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

Pray

I struggle with this so bad. The ONLY way I get through it is praying. God says to cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us! I still get so nervous before I give speeches, but God always gets me through it. Just pray about it. He'll get you through it. I'm so sorry all of you are going through this. I know how it feels and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I'll be praying for y'all, and I'd love if y'all would pray for me, too
—Guest Lucy

Nerves

I have a speech to give tomorrow, the first of three in my college speech class.I loathe public speaking. I have practiced but simply cannot memorize this thing, I'm afraid I will be reading rather than talking. Sigh. Wish me luck, there is no backing out now. Hopefully the beta blockers I got from my doctor will not let me down! I have to say it is reassuring to know so many others struggle with this as much as I do. Best wishes everyone!
—Guest Kate

Heightened senses

The expectation of having to talk is a trigger for me: Everything becomes heightened - My hearing is elevated (Plus me listening to myself talk), my eyes become watery and heated, as if strained from trying to get a clearer picture of something. When this happens I can feel my throat muscles contracting and that's it, my voice quality is weakened and it comes out as a whisper or strained. I also get these weird messages that tell me to 'keep my voice a secret' and 'you're going to say something stupid'. I hate this phobia. But I've realised this all lies in my expectation and excessive self-focus. So I have something to work with in reducing my problem.
—Guest Joe

Help...

So I've got a project due, well, tomorrow, and I have to present it. When I present I don't see a big deal with the whole sweating thing but I do get dizzy. How do I fix it!? I don't want to pass out, is that possible?! Ugh, and I'm fine with talking in front of a small group but this is a whole class.
—Guest LittleDreamer

Trembling

My speaking ability is terrible: I'm always stuttering, trembling, and my voice is like a voice when crying. I am working at a company and we have a daily public speaking sessions for everyone. Usually I can't control my speaking after 2 sentences. The good thing is sometimes I manage to make people laugh. My public speaking is still terrible until now, but it doesn't really matter because my colleagues already understand and don't really care much about my weakness.
—Guest Bimo

Scared

When I'm in class and my teacher calls on me I begin to tremble, shake, stutter horribly, panic and feel like I wanna cry.
—Guest Lexus

unnormal

Well I had to read a story in front of all these kids. I was scared to do it but then I just took a deep breath and read it, at first it was going good everything came out at a steady pace. Then when I got to the last 3 sentences my speech started to stutter and my throat became dry, it was like the words were hard to come out of my mouth , my hands started to shake and my face started turning red. I don't know why I always behave this way, life would be so much easier if I could speak confidently.
—Guest scardeycat

Just do it

The only way to conquer your fear of public speaking is to just do it. Take a public speaking class, comedy improv class, or acting class... any excuse to talk in front of others.. until your fear is gone. Cowering from it will only reinforce your fear and make it more substantial and harder to defeat. Face Everything And Recover (FEAR) is a useful saying to remember. I put off taking a public speaking course until my last semester in college when I should've done it first!
—Guest Will

Good tip

I used to have this problem all the time. The number one best way that I deal with it is this... You have to realize that the reason your voice shakes is because you are nervous. Why are you nervous? Because you are worried that you will look dumb, from a shaky voice usually. If you just go in there confidently, knowing that you have a fine voice and that you'll do fine, the nerves will go away and your voice won't shake. I guess it comes with practice. And if you do butcher whatever you're doing, just laugh it off.
—Guest Danny

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Good question. I have both. My feelings of social anxiety have more or less gone away. Getting older makes you not care so much. But my fear of public speaking remains. I think this is because I don't have the opportunity to practice it as much as casual involvement in social situations. In public speaking situations I'm concerned that I will make a fool of myself when all eyes are on me. Years ago, when I had to address groups of people on a regular basis it went away. I think that both of these things are variable according to exposure like fear of flying. I think the main calling card for Social Anxiety is avoidance of social situations.
—Guest aiozylKECRfVj

Helpp!

So, I had always avoided public speaking in front of 40 + people. But I always had to speak in class..somehow I managed to trick people. Then came my high school years. I was always chosen to speak. I was ok with it. I mean I was terrified inside but I managed to trick. But then college came...I blew up two presentations. My voice cracked and my mind went blank..Some of my classmates laughed at me. It was the most pathetic feeling ever. Like I have many presentations to make. I am so scared. I don't know what the f*ck is wrong with me. When I am sitting with 100 people I can speak..but when I stand in front of lets say 6 people I can't!
—Guest Me

I'm dead

I have a speech to give tomorrow noon it must be half an hour long in front of 1500 people. The thing is I just finished preparing the material my English is rubbish as it is my third language. BUT I'm going to rock it. Never gave a speech in my life. I think I will be ok. I don't know any of the people there and I will just talk my mind and heart out. Love u all. Good luck.
—Guest cocopops

Know your subject

Know your subject inside and out. Have a family member quiz you about it. Then you will be recalling information that you KNOW instead of trying to remember words that do not mean a lot to you.
—Guest Sheri

Please. Please help me.

I can relate to you all. I am only 16 and a sophomore in high school, and you all may think that I don't have it nearly as bad as you do. But I have a problem. I'm becoming terrified of people for fear that they will try to talk to me and I won't know what to say and end up making a fool of myself. I have been stressing over my honors literature class's debate for literally over a month. I have hardly slept. My class is full of intelligent people, and I have never said more than a few words in this class, except for the few times my teacher has called on me to answer. These occasions have involved me shaking, blushing, stuttering, and my voice becoming distorted. And then, even though my teacher praises me for an answer, he asks me to say it again! This time I have to speak for five minutes by myself, and then my partner has her turn. I'm afraid I will suddenly forget everything like I always do, or people will start laughing and whispering amongst themselves like they always do. Help!
—Guest SAD, sad girl

groping for the words

When asked to speak, despite on the dose of alprex, there is something that takes place which is beyond your ( read mine) power to control. Heart beat goes up, you start feeling feverish. Despite your best efforts your vocal chord pitch distorts. Your anxiety becomes glaring to people. Why? 1. I found I become extremely conscious of my performance and thinking about perceived adverse reaction from the audience. But no, even knowing they are just my acquaintances, because of increased heart beat and anxiety led malfunctioning of the system you just grope for the right words to express your subject matter. In short everything goes haywire. It may last for a few seconds to a few minutes. But by that time destruction is complete. Solution? I avoid attending meetings where I may be asked to speak. 2. Surprisingly I find no difficulty in making informal communication even in the meeting or when I know I have to address people NOT known to me. 3 I have no problem in addressing when I HEAD the meeting.
—Guest vamshark

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