Handling Speech Anxiety



Following these tips may help you to be more comfortable speaking in front of an audience:

Objectify Your Concerns
Write a list of whatever concerns you have about the presentation. Examine each concern and determine a course of action you can take to minimize that potential problem. You’ll quickly discover that you can take an appropriate countermeasure for just about every fear you might have about speaking.

Know the Introduction of the Talk
Anxiety is typically highest at the start of a presentation. If you carefully plan the introduction of your presentation, and you know it very well, you can confidently get through the early part of your presentation.

Practice Your Presentation
Each practice helps you become familiar with what you want to say, and helps you experiment with different ways of communicating your message. Practice aloud rather than silently, practice in front of a “test” audience if you can, and practice the full presentation rather than just parts of it. By the way, you can practice too much. So, stop practicing once you discover that you’re losing enthusiasm for what you will be saying.

Familiarize Yourself With the Place Where You’ll Be Speaking
Try to practice the speech at least once in the room where you’ll give it. A classroom that you’ve been in a hundred times before may suddenly look different if you’re at the front speaking to the class. Be sure to practice with any equipment that you’ll be using, such as an overhead projector.

Use Your Speaking Energy Productively
When speaking before a group, your body experiences a number of physiological changes. You can take advantage of this heightened sense of readiness instead of being intimidated. Allow yourself to gesture and move around naturally as you speak. Put the excess energy to work for you by using your voice to emphasize key ideas you want your audience to recall.

Remember That You’ll Appear More Confident Than You’ll Feel

Audiences do not detect the signs of nervousness as easily as speakers think they do. If you focus on how you feel, you’ll only exaggerate your anxiety. Focus on what you are trying to say.

Still Nervous
Consider making an appointment at the Speaking Center. You can talk to a consultant and video tape a practice run of your assignment. Watching yourself on tape may help you realize that you have no reason to get the jitters.