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How to Manage Public Speaking Anxiety

Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of The Anxiety Workbook and founder of the website About Social Anxiety. She has a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

extreme presentation anxiety

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

extreme presentation anxiety

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Speech Anxiety and SAD

How to prepare for a speech.

Public speaking anxiety, also known as glossophobia , is one of the most commonly reported social fears.

While some people may feel nervous about giving a speech or presentation if you have social anxiety disorder (SAD) , public speaking anxiety may take over your life.

Public speaking anxiety may also be called speech anxiety or performance anxiety and is a type of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Social anxiety disorder, also sometimes referred to as social phobia, is one of the most common types of mental health conditions.

Public Speaking Anxiety Symptoms

Symptoms of public speaking anxiety are the same as those that occur for social anxiety disorder, but they only happen in the context of speaking in public.

If you live with public speaking anxiety, you may worry weeks or months in advance of a speech or presentation, and you probably have severe physical symptoms of anxiety during a speech, such as:

  • Pounding heart
  • Quivering voice
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach

Causes of Public Speaking Anxiety

These symptoms are a result of the fight or flight response —a rush of adrenaline that prepares you for danger. When there is no real physical threat, it can feel as though you have lost control of your body. This makes it very hard to do well during public speaking and may cause you to avoid situations in which you may have to speak in public.

How Is Public Speaking Anxiety Is Diagnosed

Public speaking anxiety may be diagnosed as SAD if it significantly interferes with your life. This fear of public speaking anxiety can cause problems such as:

  • Changing courses at college to avoid a required oral presentation
  • Changing jobs or careers
  • Turning down promotions because of public speaking obligations
  • Failing to give a speech when it would be appropriate (e.g., best man at a wedding)

If you have intense anxiety symptoms while speaking in public and your ability to live your life the way that you would like is affected by it, you may have SAD.

Public Speaking Anxiety Treatment

Fortunately, effective treatments for public speaking anxiety are avaible. Such treatment may involve medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.

Short-term therapy such as systematic desensitization and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful to learn how to manage anxiety symptoms and anxious thoughts that trigger them.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist who can offer this type of therapy; in particular, it will be helpful if the therapist has experience in treating social anxiety and/or public speaking anxiety.

Research has also found that virtual reality (VR) therapy can also be an effective way to treat public speaking anxiety. One analysis found that students treated with VR therapy were able to experience positive benefits in as little as a week with between one and 12 sessions of VR therapy. The research also found that VR sessions were effective while being less invasive than in-person treatment sessions.

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If you live with public speaking anxiety that is causing you significant distress, ask your doctor about medication that can help. Short-term medications known as beta-blockers (e.g., propranolol) can be taken prior to a speech or presentation to block the symptoms of anxiety.

Other medications may also be prescribed for longer-term treatment of SAD, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). When used in conjunction with therapy, you may find the medication helps to reduce your phobia of public speaking.

In addition to traditional treatment, there are several strategies that you can use to cope with speech anxiety and become better at public speaking in general . Public speaking is like any activity—better preparation equals better performance. Being better prepared will boost your confidence and make it easier to concentrate on delivering your message.

Even if you have SAD, with proper treatment and time invested in preparation, you can deliver a successful speech or presentation.

Pre-Performance Planning

Taking some steps to plan before you give a speech can help you better control feelings of anxiety. Before you give a speech or public performance:

  • Choose a topic that interests you . If you are able, choose a topic that you are excited about. If you are not able to choose the topic, try using an approach to the topic that you find interesting. For example, you could tell a personal story that relates to the topic as a way to introduce your speech. This will ensure that you are engaged in your topic and motivated to research and prepare. When you present, others will feel your enthusiasm and be interested in what you have to say.
  • Become familiar with the venue . Ideally, visit the conference room, classroom, auditorium, or banquet hall where you will be presenting before you give your speech. If possible, try practicing at least once in the environment that you will be speaking in. Being familiar with the venue and knowing where needed audio-visual components are ahead of time will mean one less thing to worry about at the time of your speech.
  • Ask for accommodations . Accommodations are changes to your work environment that help you to manage your anxiety. This might mean asking for a podium, having a pitcher of ice water handy, bringing in audiovisual equipment, or even choosing to stay seated if appropriate. If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder such as social anxiety disorder (SAD), you may be eligible for these through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Don’t script it . Have you ever sat through a speech where someone read from a prepared script word for word? You probably don’t recall much of what was said. Instead, prepare a list of key points on paper or notecards that you can refer to.
  • Develop a routine . Put together a routine for managing anxiety on the day of a speech or presentation. This routine should help to put you in the proper frame of mind and allow you to maintain a relaxed state. An example might be exercising or practicing meditation on the morning of a speech.

Practice and Visualization

Even people who are comfortable speaking in public rehearse their speeches many times to get them right. Practicing your speech 10, 20, or even 30 times will give you confidence in your ability to deliver.

If your talk has a time limit, time yourself during practice runs and adjust your content as needed to fit within the time that you have. Lots of practice will help boost your self-confidence .

  • Prepare for difficult questions . Before your presentation, try to anticipate hard questions and critical comments that might arise, and prepare responses ahead of time. Deal with a difficult audience member by paying them a compliment or finding something that you can agree on. Say something like, “Thanks for that important question” or “I really appreciate your comment.” Convey that you are open-minded and relaxed. If you don’t know how to answer the question, say you will look into it.
  • Get some perspective . During a practice run, speak in front of a mirror or record yourself on a smartphone. Make note of how you appear and identify any nervous habits to avoid. This step is best done after you have received therapy or medication to manage your anxiety.
  • Imagine yourself succeeding . Did you know your brain can’t tell the difference between an imagined activity and a real one? That is why elite athletes use visualization to improve athletic performance. As you practice your speech (remember 10, 20, or even 30 times!), imagine yourself wowing the audience with your amazing oratorical skills. Over time, what you imagine will be translated into what you are capable of.
  • Learn to accept some anxiety . Even professional performers experience a bit of nervous excitement before a performance—in fact, most believe that a little anxiety actually makes you a better speaker. Learn to accept that you will always be a little anxious about giving a speech, but that it is normal and common to feel this way.

Setting Goals

Instead of trying to just scrape by, make it a personal goal to become an excellent public speaker. With proper treatment and lots of practice, you can become good at speaking in public. You might even end up enjoying it!

Put things into perspective. If you find that public speaking isn’t one of your strengths, remember that it is only one aspect of your life. We all have strengths in different areas. Instead, make it a goal simply to be more comfortable in front of an audience, so that public speaking anxiety doesn’t prevent you from achieving other goals in life.

A Word From Verywell

In the end, preparing well for a speech or presentation gives you confidence that you have done everything possible to succeed. Give yourself the tools and the ability to succeed, and be sure to include strategies for managing anxiety. These public-speaking tips should be used to complement traditional treatment methods for SAD, such as therapy and medication.

Crome E, Baillie A. Mild to severe social fears: Ranking types of feared social situations using item response theory . J Anxiety Disord . 2014;28(5):471-479. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.05.002

Pull CB. Current status of knowledge on public-speaking anxiety . Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012;25(1):32-8. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e32834e06dc

Goldstein DS. Adrenal responses to stress . Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010;30(8):1433-40. doi:10.1007/s10571-010-9606-9

Anderson PL, Zimand E, Hodges LF, Rothbaum BO. Cognitive behavioral therapy for public-speaking anxiety using virtual reality for exposure . Depress Anxiety. 2005;22(3):156-8. doi:10.1002/da.20090

Hinojo-Lucena FJ, Aznar-Díaz I, Cáceres-Reche MP, Trujillo-Torres JM, Romero-Rodríguez JM. Virtual reality treatment for public speaking anxiety in students. advancements and results in personalized medicine .  J Pers Med . 2020;10(1):14. doi:10.3390/jpm10010014

Steenen SA, van Wijk AJ, van der Heijden GJ, van Westrhenen R, de Lange J, de Jongh A. Propranolol for the treatment of anxiety disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis . J Psychopharmacol (Oxford). 2016;30(2):128-39. doi:10.1177/0269881115612236

By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of The Anxiety Workbook and founder of the website About Social Anxiety. She has a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

extreme presentation anxiety

Beating Presentation Anxiety: 5 Steps to Speak Confidently

  • The Speaker Lab
  • April 16, 2024

Table of Contents

Feeling jittery about your next presentation? If so, you’re not alone. Presentation anxiety hits many of us, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. In this article, we’ll dive into what sparks this fear and how it shows up. We’ve got you covered with strategies to prep before your talk, keep cool during the show, and even use tech tools to smooth out those nerves.

If you find that the jitters are negatively impacting your presentations, we have the strategies you need to build confidence. And if you need more help, we’ll point you towards top-notch resources for beating presentation anxiety.

Understanding Presentation Anxiety

Presentation anxiety grips many of us before we step onto the stage. It’s that stomach-churning, sweat-inducing fear of public speaking that can turn even the most prepared speaker into a bundle of nerves. But why does this happen? Let’s break it down.

Common Triggers of Presentation Anxiety

First off, it’s important to know you’re not alone in feeling nervous about presenting. This type of anxiety is incredibly common and stems from various triggers. One major cause is the fear of judgment or negative evaluation by others. No one wants to look foolish or incompetent, especially in front of peers or superiors.

Another trigger is lack of experience. If you haven’t had much practice speaking in public, every presentation might feel like stepping into unknown territory. Then there’s perfectionism; setting impossibly high standards for your performance can make any slight mistake feel disastrous.

How Presentation Anxiety Manifests

The symptoms of presentation anxiety are as varied as they are unpleasant: dry mouth, shaky hands, racing heart—the list goes on. Oftentimes, these physical signs go hand-in-hand with mental ones like blanking out or losing your train of thought mid-sentence. In addition to affecting how you feel physically, anxiety also messes with your confidence levels and self-esteem.

By understanding presentation anxiety better, we realize its grip on us isn’t due to our inability but rather a natural response that can be managed with the right techniques and mindset adjustments.

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Strategies for Managing Presentation Anxiety Before the Event

Feeling jittery before taking the stage is a common plight, but let’s not let those nerves derail our success. Here are some tried and true strategies to help keep your cool.

Planning Like a Pro

Kicking off with solid planning can be your first line of defense against presentation anxiety. Initiate by segmenting your presentation into digestible sections. This could mean outlining main points or scripting it out entirely, depending on what makes you feel most prepared. A good resource that dives deep into effective planning is Toastmasters International , where you’ll find tips on structuring speeches that resonate.

An equally crucial part of planning involves researching your audience. Understanding who will be in front of you helps tailor your message and anticipate questions they might have, making you feel more confident and connected.

The Power of Practice

You’ve heard it before, but practice really does make perfect—or at least significantly less nervous. Running through your presentation multiple times lets you iron out any kinks and get comfortable with the flow of information. For an extra boost, simulate the actual event as closely as possible by practicing in similar attire or using the same technology you’ll have available during the real deal.

If solo rehearsals aren’t cutting it, try roping in a friend or family member to act as an audience. Not only can they offer valuable feedback, they can also help acclimate you to speaking in front of others—a critical step toward easing anxiety.

Breathing Techniques That Work Wonders

Last but definitely not least: don’t underestimate breathing techniques. They have the power to calm nerves fast when practiced regularly leading up to the big day. Headspace offers guided exercises that focus on controlled breathing methods designed specifically for stress management. These practices encourage mindfulness, which can center thoughts away from anxious feelings towards present tasks—like delivering an outstanding presentation. Incorporating these exercises daily can build resilience against last-minute jitters too.

Techniques During the Presentation

Say you’ve practiced your speech a dozen times but you’re still worried about the big day. What should you do then to beat presentation anxiety? Let’s take a look.

Engage with Your Audience

Talking to a room full of people can feel daunting, especially when you don’t know any of them. But remember, your audience is there because they’re interested in what you have to say. Make eye contact, smile, and ask rhetorical questions to keep them hooked. As you speak, don’t forget about the importance of body language since it communicates just as much as your words.

If you think engagement ends at asking questions, think again. Sharing personal stories or relevant anecdotes helps build a connection. It makes your presentation not just informative but also relatable and memorable.

Maintain Composure Under Pressure

If you’re palms are sweating and your heart is racing, know that it’s okay. Feeling your pulse quicken shows you’re invested in nailing that speech, yet it’s crucial not to let these sensations throw you off track. Practice deep breathing exercises before stepping onto the stage to calm those nerves.

Besides deep breathing, adopting power poses backstage can significantly boost your confidence levels. Although it may sound crazy, this is a tip from social psychologists that has helped many speakers take control of their anxiety. Just check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language to see for yourself.

Facing unexpected tech glitches or interruptions during your speech is par for the course. Stay calm and use humor if appropriate—it shows professionalism and adaptability.

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The Role of Technology in Managing Presentation Anxiety

When giving a presentation, it’s not uncommon for your slides or videos to suddenly turn on you, malfunctioning in some way. However, while technical issues are something to prepare for, they shouldn’t keep you from considering technology an ally against presentation anxiety. Let’s look at some ways that technology can help soothe your public speaking jitters.

Presentation Software Features

Gone are the days when speakers had to rely solely on their memory or paper notes. Modern presentation software not only allows you to create visually appealing slides but also comes with features designed specifically for speaker support. Tools like PowerPoint’s Presenter View or Keynote, give you a behind-the-scenes look at your notes and upcoming slides without showing them to the audience. This lets you stay on track discreetly.

Another gem is interactive polling through platforms such as Mentimeter or Poll Everywhere . Engaging your audience with real-time polls not only keeps them involved but also gives you brief moments to collect your thoughts and breathe.

Stress Management Apps

When it comes to taming those pre-presentation butterflies in your stomach, there’s an app for that too. Meditation apps like Headspace offer quick guided sessions that can be squeezed into any busy schedule. Taking even just five minutes before stepping onstage can significantly calm nerves and improve focus.

Breathing exercises have proven effective in managing stress levels quickly. The beauty of apps like Breathe2Relax , is that they provide structured breathing techniques aimed at reducing anxiety on-the-go. As a result, it’s perfect for those last-minute jitters backstage or right before a webinar starts.

Resources for Further Support

If you’re on a quest to conquer presentation anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s like preparing for a big game; sometimes, you need more than just pep talks. Thankfully, there are plenty of available aids out there to help support you on your journey.

Books That Speak Volumes

Finding the right book can be a lifesaver. “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun gives an insider look at the highs and lows of public speaking with humor and wisdom. Another gem is “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” by Chris Anderson, which pulls back the curtain on what makes talks memorable.

Beyond books, consider immersing yourself in stories of others who’ve walked this path before. A great way to do this is through podcasts or audiobooks focusing on overcoming fears and embracing confidence.

Professional Services: When You Need A Team

Sometimes self-help isn’t enough; maybe what you really need is someone in your corner guiding each step. That’s where expert coaches come in. These mentors can craft plans tailored uniquely to your situation, ensuring you’re equipped for every challenge.

Here at The Speaker Lab you’ll find plenty of resources and help if you’re looking to master the art of public speaking while tackling anxieties head-on.

Together, all these resources have one thing in common: they empower speakers at any stage of their journey towards becoming confident communicators ready to tackle any audience.

FAQs on Overcoming Presentation Anxiety

How do i overcome anxiety when presenting.

Practice your talk, know your stuff, and take deep breaths. Confidence grows with preparation and experience.

Why am I anxious about public speaking?

Fear of judgment or messing up in front of others triggers this anxiety. It’s our brain on high alert.

What is anxiety presentation?

Presentation anxiety is that jittery feeling before speaking publicly. It stems from fear of failure or negative evaluation.

What can I take for presentation anxiety?

Talk to a doctor first but beta-blockers or natural remedies like chamomile tea might help ease the jitters safely.

Feeling nervous before a presentation is common. However overwhelming it might feel, know that mastering this fear is possible. Remember: practice makes perfect. By prepping ahead of time and getting familiar with your content, you can dial down the nerves.

As you’re in the spotlight, make sure to maintain a lively interaction with those watching. This builds confidence on the spot. Tech tools are there for help too. They can streamline your preparation and delivery process significantly.

Don’t be shy about asking for more info if you’re looking for something specific. We’re here to help and make sure you find exactly what you need. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get out there and nail that presentation!

  • Last Updated: April 11, 2024

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More From Forbes

How to overcome presentation anxiety, according to an award-winning cognitive scientist.

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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 23: Sian Beilock, Bernard College President, attends the 2018 Athena Film ... [+] Festival Awards Ceremony at The Diana Center At Barnard College on February 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Athena Film Festival)

Sian Leah Beilock is a cognitive scientist and expert in achieving peak performance under pressure. In her bestselling book, Choke , Beilock reveals confidence-building strategies for anxiety-inducing events like Olympic competitions, test-taking and public-speaking opportunities.

Beilock faced her own pressure-filled moment in 2017 when the TED conference invited her to present her research to a live audience. Beilock, now president of Barnard College in New York City, talked to me recently about applying her research to prepare for the TED stage.

Beilock realized that the TED audience would have high expectations from an expert who teaches people how to avoid choking under pressure. And that’s on top of the stress that already comes with giving a TED talk.

“I do a lot of public speaking, but the TED talk was particularly nerve-wracking because it has an aura around it,” Beilock said. “And my mom came to watch— which is just another added level of pressure!”

Beilock applied an effective strategy to alleviate anxiety in high-stress situations. She calls it pressure training—practicing under pressure.

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Best covid-19 travel insurance plans, practicing under pressure.

Pressure training simply means practicing your sport or speech in an environment that elevates stress hormones. It’s a strategy that works for Olympic athletes as well as business professionals preparing for an important pitch or presentation.

Sian Beilock's book, Choke

“Even practicing under mild levels of stress can prevent you from choking when high levels of stress come around,” Beilock says.

Let’s say you’re experiencing some anxiety over an upcoming Zoom presentation your boss asked you to deliver to the team. A simple example of practicing under ‘mild stress’ would be to schedule a meeting where you’re the only one invited. Bring up the presentation, share your screen, and press ‘record’ as you deliver it from start to finish. Identify those areas where you can improve next time—and there will be another practice. And another. And another.

For the next practice session, turn up the stress just a little by inviting a friend or peer to the ‘rehearsal.’ The point of the exercise is to mimic the environment you’ll find yourself in when it’s time for the actual presentation. If the presentation takes place in-person, then stand up, take a clicker in your hand, display the presentation on a screen behind you, and deliver it out loud. If you can invite someone to sit and watch in person, that’s even better.

“Simulating low levels of stress helps prevent cracking under increased pressure, because people who practice this way learn to stay calm, cool, and collected in the face of whatever comes their way,” says Beilock.

Rehearse in Real-World Conditions

According to Beilock, our brains react most negatively before a stressful event and not when it’s actually happening. Have you ever had so much anxiety about an upcoming presentation that you couldn’t sleep for days—or weeks—only to discover that it wasn’t as bad as you had imagined? Maybe your presentation was a hit, and you wasted hours worrying about it. That’s your brain stressing you about before the event.

Beilock says the strategy works effectively because it “bridges the gap between training and competition.” By training for the event over and over in ‘real-world’ conditions, your brain learns to see the speech not as a threat but as an event that you can handle successfully.

According to a recent McKinsey study , communication skills like public speaking and storytelling are among the top foundational skills necessary to “future-proof” your career over the next decade. That means your next presentation is too important to be left to chance. Practice the right way—under pressure—and you’ll shine when it counts.

Carmine Gallo

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What’s public speaking anxiety?

10 symptoms of public speaking anxiety, 10 common public speaking stressors, how to overcome public speaking anxiety: 10 tips, diagnosing and treating public speaking anxiety, speak with confidence.

Your opinion and expertise matter, so it can be frustrating when public speaking nerves leave you speechless. Maybe your heart races and you trip over your words, or you spend most of your presentation hoping no one asks questions. Fear not. Public speaking anxiety is a common experience that impacts even the most confident people — and it’s manageable.

The intense nerves associated with public speaking aren’t reserved for being on stage in front of a large audience. Discomfort might occur during small team presentations , a sales pitch with a client, or group brainstorming sessions . The stress may be so potent that you avoid important opportunities to showcase your expertise and advance your career. 

But identifying triggers and understanding your physiological response will help you overcome your anxiety. With practice and support, you’ll fearlessly share your important thoughts and opinions with others. 

Public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, is the most common subset of social anxiety, affecting about 3–5% of the general population and 80% of people with social phobias . Those with glossophobia feel anxiety symptoms , like a racing heartbeat and stressful thoughts, when sharing ideas or asking questions in front of others. And those who experience public speaking anxiety often feel more general performance anxiety during activities like striking up a conversation with a stranger or eating in public.

But why does public speaking cause anxiety? According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, our ancestors perceived being watched as a predatory threat , so our brains evolved to have a fight-or-flight response . This is the body’s physiological response to danger, activating the nervous system to encourage us to return to safety.

While public speaking doesn’t present real physical dangers, social anxiety can trigger your stress response . Worrying about people judging you, making a mistake , or messing up an important professional opportunity are visceral fears that send messages to the brain to seek protection. 

In some cases, an acute fear can be motivating . Worrying about underperforming during a client presentation or making the right first impression at a face-to-face networking event could compel you to practice and perfect your speech. 

But a chronic and debilitating fear of public speaking can disrupt your career. You may become avoidant and miss important opportunities to show off your expertise, establish your personal brand , and achieve professional development goals . 

Publi c speaking anxiety is so all-encompassing you may not be conscientious of all the ways this type of stress affects the body. Acute anxiety symptoms are widespread and vary between people , but here are 10 common signs to be aware of:

Increased heart rate

Lack of concentration 

Avoidant behaviors like social isolation

Shortness of breath

Panic attacks

Intrusive thoughts

Shaky hands and legs


While you might associate public speaking anxiety with delivering a Ted Talk or corporate event presentation, plenty of everyday situations can trigger your fear of performing. Here are 10 common stressors of public speaking anxiety: 

Meeting new colleagues or coworkers

Job interviews

Sharing ideas in a brainstorming session

Giving a small presentation

Training new coworkers

Debriefing your team or managers on an ongoing project

Offering your opinion during a virtual meeting

Delivering an elevator pitch

Participating in a board meeting

Offering someone constructive criticism


Like any other challenge, thoughtful practice, care, and patience will help you approach public speaking confidently. Here are 10 tips for public speaking anxiety sufferers looking to improve.

1. Don’t expect perfection

Perfection is an unrealistic expectation that distracts from your good work and amplifies your anxiety. Instead of aiming for perfection , celebrate your improvements and seek out continuous learning opportunities . Every chance to speak in front of others is a chance to learn and grow — even if it means a few awkward pauses or stumbling over your words occasionally. 

2. Be yourself

While keeping your body language and humor professional, be your most authentic self and stick with what feels comfortable. Imitating others’ speaking styles could make you overthink each gesture or appear unnatural and insincere. And the more you step into your authenticity at work , the more comfortable you’ll feel being yourself in every area of your life. 

3. Remember your purpose

Whether delivering a presentation or making a sale, you’re speaking in public for a reason. Think about why you’re there — be it to share your experience or teach others — and focus on this core purpose. Doing so might get you out of your head and into the situation at hand so you can concentrate less on your anxiety symptoms and more on accomplishing your task.

4. Prepare and practice

The best way to feel comfortable speaking in front of others is to practice. Speech anxiety often focuses on the unknown, like audience questions or complex presentation materials. But subject-matter-familiarity quiets some of these questions and offers answers. 

You can jot down and prepare for questions you expect or memorize your materials so they feel less overwhelming. And p racticing your delivery and body language can take away the shock of talking to a group because you have less to worry about. 

5. Let your coworkers know

Consider informing coworkers and managers about your stage fright so they know to support you. They might make adjustments like offering you additional notice regarding presentations they’d like you to make or taking your questions last in a meeting so you have more time to calm your nerves. And you can also ask team members for feedback and encouragement on your public speaking skills . 

6. Visualize success

Use visualization , positive self-talk , and other manifestation methods to picture yourself confidently speaking in public. These positive projections can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as you do what’s necessary to make your vision a reality. You could also try anxiety journaling to shake negative automatic thoughts and track your positive thinking progress. 

7. Make eye contact

If you fear public speaking, you may instinctively avoid eye contact because it feels intimate or intimidating. But chances are everyone wants to encourage you, and you can feed off the room’s energy by looking your audience in the eye. If you see heads nodding and people paying attention, you may gain the confidence boost you need to continue nerves-free. 

8. Pose for success

Standing i n power poses (body postures expressing strength and assertiveness ) signals to audience members that you’re confident and comfortable. And embracing these postures can make you feel that way, too. For in-person speaking, try keeping your feet hip-distance and your shoulders back. And if you’re on a virtual call and have the option to stand, you can still carry yourself confidently to boost your own self-esteem. If you must sit, you can still hold your head high and posture straight. 

9. Create a plan

Feel in charge of your public speaking journey by creating an improvement plan. Start by outlining small objectives, like starting two conversations with colleagues each week or contributing an idea at a team meeting. Then, define larger goals further down your improvement timeline, like leading a brainstorming session or training a new coworker. You could also work with a career coach t o build the right plan for you and track your success.

10. Take a class

Structured learning might be the best way to reduce your public speaking anxiety and gain practice. Try asking your employer whether they subsidize professional development opportunities like a public speaking course or mentorship programs . Or invest in yourself by signing up for an after-hours class with a friend so you can hold each other accountable . 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, public speaking anxiety is classified as a social anxiety disorder that causes symptoms like intense distress and panic attacks. While it’s common to feel nervous in social situations, a mental health professional might diagnose someone with public speaking anxiety if that person experiences symptoms that affect their day-to-day health, like missing out on job opportunities or having to leave a meeting due to nerves.

While social anxiety may feel overwhelming, the good news is that it’s treatable. The first step is finding a diagnosis. Treatment generally begins by identifying the root cause and any related medical conditions to ensure a larger issue isn’t causing your symptoms . Then, you’ll work with your mental health professional to determine the best treatment plan. Common remedies include psychotherapy, medication, or both. In some circumstances, you may also seek the help of a support group or work with a life coach to build an action plan . 


What you have to say matters, and you deserve to feel confident and comfortable when expressing yourself. While public speaking anxiety might quiet your voice, it doesn’t have to define your professional future. 

Now that you have some public speaking tips for anxiety, it’s time to start working toward easing your symptoms. Depending on the severity of your nerves, consider consulting with a mental health professional, career coach, or support group. From there, you can build an appropriate plan and begin speaking — one small speech at a time — with newfound confidence.

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Here's How to Overcome Presentation Anxiety

By rob biesenbach, july-august 2020.

If you’re like most people, then you get nervous or anxious before a presentation. It’s OK. Even professional speakers go through this.

The difference is in how you manage it. You can let the anxiety drive you crazy and even affect your performance, or you can meet it head-on and at least subdue it, if not conquer it.

Billions of words have been written about overcoming stage fright. Beyond the usual menu of tactics, I’m going to offer a way to reframe your thinking, with a healthy dose of tough love.

But first, let’s clear the air on an important issue.

Bust a popular myth.

One little factoid that we hear all the time is that people fear public speaking even more than death. Death! 

But while that’s the premise of a memorable Jerry Seinfeld bit — “Now this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy” — nobody has found an actual study to support this claim.

I may be biased because I speak for a living but, personally, I would rather be up there doing the eulogy.

While some people suffer from truly debilitating anxiety that might require a deeper level of intervention, most people’s fear can be managed with a handful of simple tools. 

And, like I said, some tough love.

Check your ego at the podium.

When you explore the source of people’s speaking anxiety, it often comes down to the fear of making mistakes or looking dumb in front of colleagues or other people they need to impress. 

And some are self-conscious about their appearance or the sound of their voice.

For this group, I would say, “Get over it!”

Yes, get over it. That’s your ego talking. Your presentation is not about you, it’s about them — your audience.

Your only job is to provide useful information that will help them in some way, large or small — information that will lead them to change their thinking or even their behavior on a particular issue.

So set aside the notion of dazzling or impressing them. Turn the tables on your anxiety. Ask yourself, “How can I help today?” Show up to serve.

Manage your expectations.

Take note of the language I’m using here. It’s modest. Your impact may be small, but it’s useful. You will probably not rock their world and spark a 180-degree turnaround in their viewpoints or actions.

But if you can plant some seeds, give them some food for thought and prompt them to do some further exploration on an issue, then that’s a win.

While it’s true that a speech can change the world, most of them don’t. And they rarely, if ever, make that kind of impact entirely on their own.

So take the pressure off yourself and be modest in your ambitions.

Stop undermining your credibility.

We’ve all seen people visibly work themselves into a near-frenzy in the hours and days before a presentation, telling anyone and everyone how nervous they are. Maybe we’ve done it ourselves.

That’s a natural instinct — we’re talking things out and perhaps seeking reassurance that everything will be OK.

But beyond creating a self-perpetuating doom cycle of anxiety, this behavior seriously undermines your credibility as a professional.

Stop for a minute and think about the impression that you’re making on the people around you — those who look up to you and those who have a role in your future advancement.

This is about how we show up every day as professionals and as leaders.

Act like the leader you are.

When this issue comes up in my speeches and workshops, I often ask about that person’s regular, daily responsibilities. They walk through a few of the important things they do — managing budgets, counseling teammates, moving projects along.

Then I ask how they handle those duties. Do they conduct themselves with calm assurance, or do they run down the hallway like their hair is on fire?

Of course, it’s the former. The point is to treat a presentation like a normal part of your responsibilities. For PR pros, of course, communication is our job. But communication is the heart of everyone’s job, whether they’re managing teams, enlisting support for plans and initiatives, seeking compliance with policy or procedures, cultivating customer relationships or reassuring investors. 

So put yourself in the mindset that speaking in front of groups is simply one more of your normal duties and carry yourself accordingly. You’re cool, comfortable and contained.

In other words, you’re a leader.

Use the tactics for managing anxiety.

Those steps involve a major shift in thinking. Now let’s look at a few simple tactics that may be easier to implement:

• Understand your audience. What are their interests, needs, moods and objections? Use that insight to create truly relevant content and to forge a stronger connection. • Practice and prepare. There really isn’t a substitute for doing your homework and taking the time to practice. The better you know your material, the more poised and confident you will be. • Warm up. Before you go on, do some stretches to burn off excess energy, get your blood flowing and prepare your body. Take three deep breaths to calm yourself.

• Mingle (or don’t). Some speakers become energized by working the room beforehand — introducing themselves, getting to know audience members and asking questions. If you’re not wired that way, then that’s OK. Move on to the next step. 

• Focus. In the moments before you speak, put down your phone and think. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish and go through your intro in your head. That way, you’re more likely to hit the ground running and feel confident from the start. 

• Psych yourself up. Turn your nervousness into excitement. Convince yourself that you can’t wait to get out there, connect with people, share valuable information and make a difference — large or small — in people’s lives. • Ignore your mistakes. If you flub something, then keep going. The less you call attention to it, the less likely the audience will care or even notice. And silence your inner critic. Be cool.

Keep working at it.

Like anything else, the more you do it, the more you will improve. Many people have found Toastmasters to be a great way to get comfortable in front of groups. There are also plenty of books, training and coaching options to check out.

Put in the time to get better. Make it a priority. Yes, it’s a lot of work. But isn’t the benefit of relieving all of that anxiety worth it? photo credit: digitalvision vectors


Rob Biesenbach

Rob Biesenbach  helps leaders break free from death by PowerPoint, tell their story and communicate like humans should. He’s an in-demand speaker, workshop leader and coach, an award-winning communicator and a bestselling author. He’s worked with great organizations including AARP, Allstate, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola and Lockheed Martin.

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Overcoming Presentation Anxiety: Building Confidence and Conquering Your Fears

If you’ve experienced the pounding terror that comes before a crucial presentation, you’re not alone. Studies indicate 75% of adults are affected by a fear of public speaking.

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Presentation anxiety, which manifests as an unsettling mix of fear and dread, can greatly inhibit personal growth and career advancement. 

But it’s crucial to remember that this anxiety is not insurmountable.

This article is your guide to defeating presentation anxiety, replacing fear with confidence, and mastering the art of public speaking.

Recognizing and Managing Nervousness

Presentation anxiety manifests itself in various ways; these can be physical, such as a racing heart and sweaty palms, or cognitive, such as a blank mind or negative self-talk. Beneath these surface-level symptoms lie deeper underlying issues, often rooted in fear of failure or harsh judgment. Therefore, recognizing these elements is vital to mapping your journey toward overcoming presentation anxiety.

Understanding the root of your anxiety gives you the power to tackle it head-on. Is it the fear of public scrutiny, a past embarrassing experience, or the weight of high expectations? Once you identify the source, you can tailor your approach to manage it.

Now, on managing nervousness, it’s essential to note that eliminating anxiety isn’t the goal. Instead, the objective is to harness it constructively. Deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can help regulate your physical response to stress. 

Finally, reframing anxious thoughts can lead to a more positive presentation experience. Instead of viewing the presentation as a dreaded event, see it as an opportunity to share valuable knowledge or insights with others.

Remember, feeling nervous is human. It’s an instinctive response to perceived challenges. The key is not to eliminate it but to manage, control, and channel it constructively.

Building Confidence through Preparation and Practice

Preparation is the bedrock of confidence . Begin by delving deep into your topic. Research gives you a solid understanding and arms you with additional information to handle unexpected questions. Once you’ve gathered your data, organize your ideas logically, ensuring your presentation has a clear and engaging flow.

With your content ready, turn to practice. Practice reinforces your familiarity with the material, allowing you to deliver it more naturally. Also, it enables you to identify potential pitfalls and address them proactively.

Today, technology enables you to use tools to record your presentation or you can practice in front of a mirror. Both strategies help you review and enhance your delivery style.

Remember that seeking feedback from trusted individuals can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement. Their perspective can help pinpoint parts of the presentation that may need more clarity, better engagement, or a different pace.

Using Relaxation Techniques Before Presenting

Relaxation techniques are excellent tools for mitigating pre-presentation stress. Let’s explore some of these techniques in detail.

First, progressive muscle relaxation involves sequentially tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. This procedure can assist you in achieving a profound level of relaxation and increasing your awareness of physical sensations. You can release tension before a presentation by starting at your toes and moving up to your head.

Another effective strategy is visualization. Imagine giving a presentation that is successful from beginning to end. Picture yourself confident, articulate, and engaging on stage, answering questions with ease and receiving applause at the end. This mental rehearsal primes your mind and body for a successful real-life performance.

Furthermore, mindfulness exercises help you stay present, focused, and calm, rather than getting caught up in future “what if” scenarios that fuel anxiety, mindfulness anchors you in the present moment. Simple practices like mindful breathing or a quick body scan can be done minutes before your presentation to calm your nerves.

Incorporating these techniques into a pre-presentation routine can provide stability and comfort, helping you transition into your presentation with reduced anxiety.

Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking fear, or glossophobia, affects many people but can be conquered with the right strategies and persistence.

One effective strategy is exposure therapy, where you gradually face your fear of public speaking. Start by giving a speech to a mirror, then a small, supportive group, and gradually increase the size of your audience as your confidence grows. The process helps to desensitize your fear response over time.

Moreover, positive visualization can be highly beneficial. This practice involves imagining yourself speaking confidently and receiving a positive response from your audience. Doing so can help reduce your fear and replace it with anticipation for a successful presentation.

Don’t forget that fear is often linked to perceived rather than actual threats. Reframing your perception of public speaking from a threat to an opportunity to share knowledge, influence others, and grow professionally can greatly reduce fear.

It’s also important to celebrate small victories along the way. Each step you take towards overcoming your fear of public speaking is progress worth acknowledging and celebrating.

Handling Unexpected Challenges and Technical Issues

In the realm of presentations, uncertainty is a given. Yet, being able to navigate unexpected challenges smoothly can set you apart as a confident and competent presenter.

Know that disruptions can come in many forms, including interruptions from the audience, environmental distractions, or technical difficulties. The key to handling these situations is maintaining composure and demonstrating adaptability.

If you’re interrupted, calmly acknowledge the interruption, address it if necessary, and then seamlessly return to your presentation. In the case of environmental distractions like noise, take a brief pause, allow the distraction to pass, and then continue.

Another common challenge, particularly in the era of virtual presentations, is technical issues. So, familiarize yourself with the technology you’ll be using and always have a backup plan, such as having your presentation saved on multiple devices or a printout for worst-case scenarios.

Lastly, remember that perfection is not the goal. Instead, aim for poise, adaptability, and resilience. Even the most experienced presenters face challenges; it’s how they handle them that makes them successful.

Overcoming presentation anxiety is a journey. It begins with recognizing and managing your nervousness, then building confidence through preparation and practice. Relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety, while facing your fear of public speaking helps with personal growth. Lastly, developing the ability to handle unexpected challenges and technical issues gracefully will aid in honing your overall presentation skills.

Remember, with consistent effort, patience, and these practical strategies, you have what it takes to conquer presentation anxiety. You are capable of delivering compelling and confident presentations. The stage is yours to take, and the audience awaits your voice. So go ahead, embrace the opportunity, and shine.

extreme presentation anxiety

About the Author

Nikole Pearson is a highly skilled environmental consultant with a diverse life sciences education. In the past 23 years, she has successfully managed and executed numerous environmental and regulatory projects across the western US. Nikole is a leading expert on utilizing AI for writing, editing, meeting management, presentation development, SEO, and social media management.

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Fear of public speaking: how can i overcome it, how can i overcome my fear of public speaking.

Fear of public speaking is a common form of anxiety. It can range from slight nervousness to paralyzing fear and panic. Many people with this fear avoid public speaking situations altogether, or they suffer through them with shaking hands and a quavering voice. But with preparation and persistence, you can overcome your fear.

These steps may help:

  • Know your topic. The better you understand what you're talking about — and the more you care about the topic — the less likely you'll make a mistake or get off track. And if you do get lost, you'll be able to recover quickly. Take some time to consider what questions the audience may ask and have your responses ready.
  • Get organized. Ahead of time, carefully plan out the information you want to present, including any props, audio or visual aids. The more organized you are, the less nervous you'll be. Use an outline on a small card to stay on track. If possible, visit the place where you'll be speaking and review available equipment before your presentation.
  • Practice, and then practice some more. Practice your complete presentation several times. Do it for some people you're comfortable with and ask for feedback. It may also be helpful to practice with a few people with whom you're less familiar. Consider making a video of your presentation so you can watch it and see opportunities for improvement.
  • Challenge specific worries. When you're afraid of something, you may overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening. List your specific worries. Then directly challenge them by identifying probable and alternative outcomes and any objective evidence that supports each worry or the likelihood that your feared outcomes will happen.
  • Visualize your success. Imagine that your presentation will go well. Positive thoughts can help decrease some of your negativity about your social performance and relieve some anxiety.
  • Do some deep breathing. This can be very calming. Take two or more deep, slow breaths before you get up to the podium and during your speech.
  • Focus on your material, not on your audience. People mainly pay attention to new information — not how it's presented. They may not notice your nervousness. If audience members do notice that you're nervous, they may root for you and want your presentation to be a success.
  • Don't fear a moment of silence. If you lose track of what you're saying or start to feel nervous and your mind goes blank, it may seem like you've been silent for an eternity. In reality, it's probably only a few seconds. Even if it's longer, it's likely your audience won't mind a pause to consider what you've been saying. Just take a few slow, deep breaths.
  • Recognize your success. After your speech or presentation, give yourself a pat on the back. It may not have been perfect, but chances are you're far more critical of yourself than your audience is. See if any of your specific worries actually occurred. Everyone makes mistakes. Look at any mistakes you made as an opportunity to improve your skills.
  • Get support. Join a group that offers support for people who have difficulty with public speaking. One effective resource is Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization with local chapters that focuses on training people in speaking and leadership skills.

If you can't overcome your fear with practice alone, consider seeking professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a skills-based approach that can be a successful treatment for reducing fear of public speaking.

As another option, your doctor may prescribe a calming medication that you take before public speaking. If your doctor prescribes a medication, try it before your speaking engagement to see how it affects you.

Nervousness or anxiety in certain situations is normal, and public speaking is no exception. Known as performance anxiety, other examples include stage fright, test anxiety and writer's block. But people with severe performance anxiety that includes significant anxiety in other social situations may have social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia). Social anxiety disorder may require cognitive behavioral therapy, medications or a combination of the two.

Craig N. Sawchuk, Ph.D., L.P.

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  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia). In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • 90 tips from Toastmasters. Toastmasters International. https://www.toastmasters.org/About/90th-Anniversary/90-Tips. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • Stein MB, et al. Approach to treating social anxiety disorder in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • How to keep fear of public speaking at bay. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/tips-sidebar.aspx. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • Jackson B, et al. Re-thinking anxiety: Using inoculation messages to reduce and reinterpret public speaking fears. PLOS One. 2017;12:e0169972.
  • Sawchuk CN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 24, 2017.

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5 Tips for Overcoming Presentation Anxiety

Feeling jittery before a university presentation? You're in good company! In this article, Camila Franco, a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences (Honours) student at UQ, generously shares her expert tips on overcoming presentation anxiety. Get ready to transform from fearful to fearless with her invaluable advice!

Facing your classmates and delivering information that you've just learned, or are still mastering, can be a daunting task. I recall my first presentations vividly—when I didn’t have so much experience at public speaking, I felt my mouth extremely dry and started stuttering. My heart was pounding so hard, and my anxiety just became worse as I was looking to the public thinking they were judging me for my mistakes.

Here's the deal: even the most self-assured speakers can get a bit jittery before a presentation. A sprinkle of nerves can actually enhance our focus and keep us sharp. While that's somewhat comforting, there are effective strategies to tackle these pre-presentation jitters. But before we delve into those, let’s first gain a clear understanding of what presentation anxiety truly entails!

Understanding Presentation Jitters

The fear of public speaking often boils down to worrying about how the audience will perceive us. It's totally normal to stress over stumbling over words, forgetting what we're going to say, or feeling physically awkward like sweating or shaking. Recognising these signs of anxiety creeping up is the first step to handling them:

  • Muscle tension
  • Shaky hands
  • Dry mouth, sweating, or blushing
  • Upset stomach
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Catastrophic thoughts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Heart racing or chest feeling tight

While these symptoms can feel overwhelming, they're definitely not unbeatable.

Let's dive into some tricks to help you prep and feel more confident when you're up against public speaking challenges.

Tip 1: Prepare a well-structured presentation

Success in public speaking begins with thorough preparation. Take the time to research your topic extensively and understand your audience's needs and expectations. Structure your presentation logically, and design visually engaging slides to support your message. Rehearse your script until you feel comfortable with its flow and content.

Tip 2: Polish and rehearse your script

Embrace a growth mindset and view challenges as opportunities for improvement. Practice delivering your speech aloud and use self-recording to evaluate your performance objectively. Seek feedback from friends or family members and incorporate their suggestions to refine your presentation. Familiarise yourself with the venue beforehand to alleviate any logistical concerns.

Tip 3: Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Identify and challenge the negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. Write down your concerns and the potential consequences you fear. Take a step back and assess whether these thoughts are realistic or exaggerated. Reframe negative self-talk with more balanced and empowering statements.

Tip 4: Create a Troubleshooting Plan

Anticipate potential challenges and devise strategies to address them proactively. For instance, keep a glass of water handy to combat dry mouth, or prepare standard responses for unexpected questions. Having a plan in place will boost your confidence and help you navigate any hurdles smoothly.

Tip 5: Practice Mindfulness

Incorporate relaxation techniques into your routine to manage anxiety effectively. Experiment with breathing exercises, visualisation, or meditation to calm your mind and body. Cultivate mindfulness habits that you can employ before, during, and after your presentations to stay grounded and focused.

When to Get Professional Help

If your presentation nerves are really starting to mess with your academic or personal life, it might be time to reach out for some extra support. Keep an eye out for signs like constantly avoiding presentations, messed-up sleep or eating habits, or weird physical symptoms that don't seem related to anxiety.

Consider chatting with a mental health pro or counsellor who can offer personalised advice and a listening ear. There are plenty of avenues of support you can turn to, including a range of programs and counselling services offered at UQ to help support students’ health and wellbeing.

Dealing with public speaking jitters is tough, but totally doable. Our university days are the perfect time to work on our presentation skills and boost our confidence. Push yourself a bit, tap into the resources around you, and you'll soon be rocking those speeches like a pro. Remember, every presentation is a chance to learn and grow.

Camila Franco

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Overcome presentation anxiety easily with these steps

Overcome presentation anxiety easily with these steps header

Nancy Duarte

You know the feeling: You’re about to give a big presentation (maybe it’s not even that big), and your nerves set in . You feel pressure in your chest. Your breathing gets shallow. Your blood pressure increases. And suddenly it seems inevitable that you’re going to mess this up — and everyone will see.

There’s an evolutionary reason why you feel this way. It used to be that the increased  adrenaline and cortisol  pumping through your system in times of stress helped us flee or fight in the face of predators. In business, the threats to our well-being are largely psychological instead of physical — yet, our bodies fail to differentiate significantly between the two.

While there is some difference in how the brain processes  physical and social pain , our neurological response to getting pinched, for example, is strikingly similar our response to rejection. And since public speaking offers us the opportunity to face rejection on a grand scale, it’s no wonder that some people fear it  worse than death .

Though these reactions are deeply ingrained, it is possible to overcome presentation anxiety.


The first (and most obvious) way to overcome presentation anxiety is to do everything you can to ensure that things go smoothly, and that means you have to prepare. One of the most nerve-wracking talks I ever prepared for was my presentation at TEDxEast. I knew that this performance, in particular, could have a huge impact on the way the world viewed presentations — and my business. So, I rehearsed for 35 hours. I even printed out pictures of my employees’ faces and posted them on the wall to simulate an actual audience.

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It’s not exactly news that preparation helps you convince your audience that you know your material. But you’ll also benefit by making your talk a more predictable event. Nerves are often triggered by surprises (like the time I accidentally walked out on stage with my skirt tucked into my underwear, or when I suddenly had six hot flashes in the middle of a talk). There will always be surprises, but you can limit their number and impact by researching your topic thoroughly, anticipating tough questions, and practicing your delivery.


Next, try a little visualization. Imagine yourself giving a great presentation. Since the brain sometimes has trouble  distinguishing between actual experiences and imagined ones , use that fact to your advantage. Picture every minute of the presentation in great detail. Imagine having the meeting turned over to you or being introduced on stage. What will that feel like? How will you launch into your talk? What will the audience’s faces look like?

This technique is effective for a couple of reasons: If you thought you were already prepared, this exercise will make you  ultra- prepared. It’s likely that you’ll think of things you forgot to address, things that might have tripped you up if they’d occurred to you  in the moment . And after you give your imagined presentation, you will feel as if  you’ve done it before . Your actual presentation will be an encore.


Once you’ve prepared to the hilt, start getting comfortable with uncertainty. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we can have total control over a situation. You can’t. At a certain point you have to trust that you’ve done all that you can to prepare, and leave it at that. That might sound overly Zen of me, but the likelihood that your worst fears will come true really is very slim.

Nerves often start to build when we think people can tell we’re nervous. In most cases, they can’t. Only you know about the disaster scenarios running through your mind, so keep it that way. If you stumble, act as though it didn’t happen. Even if you fall flat on your face, get up, make a joke about it, and continue on your way. You can’t control the audience’s reaction , but you can lead people in the direction you want by remaining calm and loose.

Speaking of audiences, get used to looking at blank faces — or faces that are distracted altogether. When you’re talking to somebody one-on-one, you get the physical and verbal cues that someone is listening — head nodding and sounds of agreement, like “Uh-huh.” Groups of people don’t always do that. They’re not judging you. They’re probably trying to be polite and listen. Or they might just be in a world of their own. I once had my assistant help me prepare for a presentation by fidgeting and giving me different negative facial expressions while I rehearsed. (It was surprisingly effective.) The key is not to let anyone’s body language faze you. Chances are, your audience wants you to succeed.

Speaker coaching

A version of this article originally appeared in HBR.  

Illustrated by Ryan Muta.

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How to Manage Your Anxiety When Presenting

Do you get nervous speaking in public? Learn how to mitigate your fear.

January 29, 2016

extreme presentation anxiety

Tricia Seibold

For media inquiries, visit the Newsroom .

Explore More

Communication tips from the classroom and around the world, class takeaways — how to run a meeting effectively, conviction and compassion: how to have hard conversations, editor’s picks.

extreme presentation anxiety

March 02, 2015 Matt Abrahams: Tips and Techniques for More Confident and Compelling Presentations A Stanford lecturer explains key ways you can better plan, practice, and present your next talk.

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University Counseling Service

30 ways to manage speaking anxiety, initial considerations.

Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking

It is the single most common phobia (fear)

Approximately 75% of people experience this

You are not alone in your fear

You cannot eliminate your fear–but you CAN manage and reduce it. 

Thirty ways to manage public speaking anxiety

Getting ready .

Select a topic of interest to you

Prepare carefully–know your material

Practice–rehearse your talk with a friend

Know your audience

Challenge negative thinking–make 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.

Expect positive reactions–expect success!

Know the room–if unfamiliar, visit your speaking space before you talk.

Employ aerobic exercise strategies–daily aerobic exercise can cut anxiety by 50%.

Eat for success–foods containing tryptophan (dairy products, turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Eliminate caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.

Sleep for success–know and get the number of hours of sleep you need for optimal performance. 

The Day of the Presentation 

11.   Eat several hours before the talk–not immediately before 

12.  Dress for success–your success! Dress comfortably and appropriately for the situation. Look your best

13.  Challenge negative thinking–Continue positive thinking

14.  If you need to, express your fears to a friend 

15.  Review 3 x 5 cards of inspirational thoughts

16.  Practice your talk one last time

17.  Go to the room early to ready equipment and your podium.

18.  Exercise immediately before the talk to reduce adrenalin levels. 

  • Employ anxiety reduction techniques
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Deep muscle relaxation
  • Visualization strategies
  • Deep, rhythmic breathing (4 hold 7) 

19.  Use the restroom immediately before the talk 

20. Take a glass of water to the talk 

The Presentation: A positive experience stemming from careful preparation! 

21.  Interpret anxiety symptoms as excitement

22. Use the podium to practice grounding strategies. Touch the podium to steady yourself and to remind yourself that you are safely connected to the ground which is firm and steady beneath your feet.

23. Take a security blanket with you–a complete typed version of your talk to only be used as a backup strategy.

24. Use tools to reduce audience attention on you.

  • PowerPoint presentation 
  • Video film clips
  • “Show and tell” objects to pass

25.  Get out of yourself–engage the audience

26.  Look at friendly faces in your audience

27.  Use humor as needed

28.  Use the room’s physical space to your advantage–walk around as appropriate.

29.  Appropriately regulate your voice

  • Speak clearly–enunciate
  • Open your mouth–do not mumble
  • Slow down if necessary
  • Lower your voice–speak from your diaphragm
  • Project your voice–use energy when you speak
  • Use appropriate animation 

Additional Considerations 

Seek out public speaking opportunities to desensitize (reduce) your fear of communication apprehension.

Consider use of anti-anxiety medication

Join Toastmasters International to have a supportive and safe way to practice

public speaking

Gain experience–practice makes perfect. 

  • academic skills

Current enrolled students can call University Counseling Service at 319-335-7294 to schedule an appointment. Initial Consultation appointments can also be scheduled online. Students must be in the state of Iowa to attend virtual/Zoom appointments.

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  • For General Anxiety
  • For Panic Attacks
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Presentation Anxiety: How to Overcome Stage Fright (Complete Guide)

Tyler Ellis

Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is thought to affect as much as 75% of the population. For both students and professionals alike, this phobia tends to take the form of presentation anxiety. So, how can we overcome stage fright and presentation anxiety once and for all?

While avoiding presentations may bring some short-term relief to your anxiety, this will worsen your stage fright in the long-run. To overcome presentation anxiety long-term, presentation tools and gradual practice are the most effective solutions.

Maybe, right now, you’re extremely anxious about a presentation coming up. Maybe the only thought racing through your mind is how in the world am I going to get out of giving this presentation?

No worries. This guide is going to cover everything – and I mean everything – you’ll need to know. Make sure not to skip the section on “alternative ways of presenting,” I think you’ll find those really useful!

No need to stress; let’s get right into this.

What Causes Presentation Anxiety?

First things first… why do we feel presentation anxiety in the first place?

Sure, we might expect our heart to pound and breathing to accelerate as we walk along the edge of a cliff – but during a presentation? What part of talking about George Washington Carver inventing peanut butter should cause our hands to tremble and our voice to stutter?

Well, as it turns out, presentation anxiety is caused by ancient mechanisms in our brain responsible for our survival. For anxious people, our brain perceives being the center of attention in large group to be a threat. This triggers the “fight or flight” response, causing us to panic as we try and escape our uncomfortable setting.

Obviously, we are in no real danger while giving a class presentation or work presentation. Many years of evolution, however, have trained us to avoid stage fright with a passion. In ancient times, being surround by a (potentially angry) mob could have fatal consequences; as could being humiliated, rejected, or otherwise cast out from the tribe.

For many of us – especially those of us prone to social anxiety – such fears have stuck with us since caveman times. It’s important we remember these fears are harmless. Just being aware of their nature can help with this process. Despite what your brain and body may be telling you, these feelings of anxiety are not dangerous; they are going to pass.

Feel free to check out this article for a better understanding of the evolutionary psychology behind anxiety .

How to Get Out of a Presentation

I recommend against avoidance in most cases, as it only reinforces our anxiety in the long-run.

However, I know what it’s like to be a student with presentation anxiety.

I know how hard it is juggling academics, a social life, relationships, and newly blossoming anxieties all at once. I know that it can get so bad the most logical option feels like dropping out of school altogether. I don’t want you to feel like you have to do that.

So, if you’re really just not ready to overcome your stage fright:

  • Intentionally Choose Classes That Don’t Require Presentations
  • Tell the Teacher or Professor About What You’re Going Through
  • Ask the Teacher or Professor for Alternative Assignments
  • For Group Presentations, Ask Someone Else to Take the Lead
  • Present Your Assignment in an Alternative Format Using Presentation Tools and Software (more on this in a bit)

If this seems a bit vague, it’s only because I’ve actually dedicated an entire article to this topic already. Check out this piece on how to get out of giving a presentation in class for more help with this.

Like I said, ultimately, avoidance is a poor strategy. However, I believe it’s just as detrimental to be “forced” into facing our fears before we are mentally prepared to do so. Having been there myself, I want you to be able to rest easy knowing that you do have some options here.

For this guide, however, I want to focus more on how to actually overcome presentation anxiety and stage fright.

My secret is – believe it or not – I get incredibly nervous before public speaking, no matter how big the crowd or the audience and, um, despite the fact that I laugh and joke all the time I get incredibly nervous, if not anxious, actually, before going into rooms full of people when I'm wearing a suit... And now that I've confessed that, I'll probably be even more worried that people are looking at me.

Prince Harry - Duke of Sussex, Member of the British Royal Family

How to Stop a Panic Attack While Presenting in Class

When I first started having panic attacks, I had no idea what they were or why they were happening. Prior to my first panic attack, I had never had an issue with public speaking or presentation anxiety at all. In fact, I had voluntarily participated in several clubs and activities that required public speaking.

Yet, when my first few panic attacks started (I was around 16 at the time), they would occur in any random situation. Wherever they occurred, I'd quickly develop a phobia associated with that location or situation. One such random panic attack occurred – you guessed it – during a class presentation.

While this experience was terrifying, embarrassing, and extremely uncomfortable, I had – fortunately – managed to keep it together enough for most people not to notice. For the many class presentations that would follow, however, I had to develop some tricks to stop panic attacks while presenting in class.

Here’s what worked for me:

  • Volunteer to go first. This may seem strange, but I always felt it easier to volunteer first and get it out of the way. Oftentimes, it’s easier to deal with presentation anxiety when we don’t feel cornered. By choosing to do it yourself, you maintain some control of the situation and get the jump on things before anticipation anxiety kicks in .
  • Remember you are not going to die. This is just a panic attack, and it’s going to pass. It may be uncomfortable, but it will be over within a few moments.
  • Take control of your breathing. 478 breathing is a simple technique that works. Simply breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds through the mouth.
  • Find a focus object. Choose a point, or several points, to focus on in the room. This could be a ceiling tile, a lightbulb, a pile of books, anything. Whenever your thoughts start to wander or spiral out of control, recenter your thoughts on that focus object.
  • Try and remember the other times you’ve given a class presentation with anxiety. Chances are, this isn’t your first time. Remember those past successes and visualize this presentation as one where you overcome stage fright as well. If your mind is drawn to a time when it didn’t go so well, at least remind yourself that it passed and you survived it; just as you’ll survive this one.
  • If you have a friend in the class, look to them from time to time. Flash them a smile or a wink, and try not to laugh out loud while you’re up there. This may seem silly, but I’d rather stifle a laugh than grapple a panic attack.
  • Remember that no one’s really paying attention. Just as you were sitting at your desk nervously thinking about your own turn to present, most people are doing the exact same now. And even if they’re not anxious, they’re probably zoned out or drifting off; it’s quite difficult to keep an involuntary crowd’s attention. Trust me, they’re probably not thinking about you much.

These are just a few ways to stop a panic attack while presenting in class. Of course, just about any method for stopping panic attacks can work well here, so feel free to explore our site a bit to learn some other methods.

There are only two types of speakers in the world:

1. The nervous

Mark Twain - American humorist, novelist, and travel writer

Alternative Ways of Presenting to Help Overcome Stage Fright

If you take nothing else from this article, I believe that this is the section that can help anxious students and professionals with stage fright the most. When I was dealing with presentation anxiety myself, most of these options didn’t even exist. If you’re anxious about standing in front of class and presenting, any of these could be fantastic alternatives to presenting.

Basically, any of these presentation software tools can help you to quickly create a visually stunning presentation; all without having to speak in front of the class. They utilize audio, video, and/or animation to create informative videos that get the point across even more effectively than conventional presentations.

For the most part, all a teacher or boss really cares about is that you: 

  • Put hard work and dedication into your assignment
  • Learned something throughout the process
  • Are able to communicate what you learned to educate your peers

Telling the teacher “Sorry, I just can’t present today,” won’t meet any of these points, and is likely to land you a failed grade.

Instead, ask your teacher if you can use one of these presentation tools to create an even more engaging and informative presentation. This way, it’ll seem like you’ve put in the most effort in the class, rather than the least; all without having to speak in front of the class.

Here are the automated presentation tools I currently use myself and recommend:

I go into much greater detail on these tools here: automated presentation software . Before buying anything, I strongly suggest giving that article a read. Otherwise, Toonly and Doodly are my top picks.

What is the Best Presentation Anxiety Medication for Stage Fright?

Giving a presentation in high school or college can be extremely stressful for many people. If standing in front of the class feels like an impossible task, you may be wondering about presentation anxiety medication. So… what are the best drugs for presentation anxiety?

Since I’m not a doctor, I can only offer you a friendly opinion here.

In general, I think it’s a good idea to steer clear of anti-anxiety medication whenever it isn’t absolutely necessary. If your doctor prescribes you presentation anxiety medication, so be it. In the long-run, however, this can often create cycles of reliance and dependence that are best avoided.

But what about taking an over-the-counter supplement for anxiety before a presentation?

I have personally found one supplement to help me relax and communicate more confidently. This is my favorite supplement for stage fright, as it has helped me tremendously in situations where I would normally feel a bit socially anxious. I’ve used this supplement for presentations, job interviews, and even first dates.

My favorite supplement for presentation anxiety symptoms is phenibut. It just helps me feel significantly calmer while simultaneously boosting my sociability and confidence. This supplement is extremely affordable and legally sold online in most countries. If you want to learn a bit more about it, I have an article going into greater depth about phenibut here.

I do urge responsibility when using phenibut, as you don’t want to become reliant on it. But if it makes the difference between shirking your presentation vs. delivering a great one, I highly recommend it.

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning

Winston Churchill - Former Prime Minister of the UK, Famous Orator

Tips for How to Present a Project Effectively

Few things help to eliminate anticipation anxiety like truly preparing for the situation. If your fears are rooted in delivering a poor or ineffective presentation, take some time to prepare.

Here are some tips for how to present a project effectively:

How to Present a Project Effectively chart

How to Overcome Stage Fright and Presentation Anxiety

There are many strategies we can take when dealing with our presentation anxiety or stage fright. Here are three of the most common strategies:

  • Complete Avoidance – Post-college, public speaking occasions like presentations are pretty few and far between. As an adult, it isn’t too difficult to avoid presentations, although not overcoming stage fright can be a hinderance in many career fields.
  • Reluctant and Occasional – Here’s where most people in the world probably fall. Most of us aren’t 100% comfortable with presenting, yet we suck it up and get it done when we have to. This isn’t a bad place to be, although it's uncomfortable occasionally.
  • Conquering Presentation Anxiety – Some brave souls will choose to completely crush their fear of public speaking, overcoming stage fright and glossophobia entirely. This path is not for the faint of heart, as it isn’t easy; however, it has the largest payoff in the end with regard to career and confidence.

We’ve already discussed strategies for the first two earlier in this guide. Let’s now focus on the third.

How can we overcome presentation anxiety and glossophobia?

Well, whenever we want to eliminate a fear or phobia long-term, the best way to do so is through exposure therapy. We do have a full article on how to extinguish fears through exposure therapy if you’re curious to really understand this process.

For now, I’ll fill you in on the basics:

By gradually stepping outside of our comfort zone and exposing ourselves to our fears, we can eliminate those fears over time. The key here is that we are stepping a bit outside our comfort zone, but not immersing ourselves so fully to induce panic. In other words: challenge yourself at a fair pace.  

comfort zone vs growth zone vs panic zone

So how do we apply this to overcome presentation anxiety and stage fright?

My suggestion would be to identify the smallest voluntary step you can take outside of your comfort zone without panicking. Perhaps presenting may induce a panic attack, but are you at least able to read aloud from your seat? Perhaps reading aloud is difficult, but could you at least volunteer an answer from time to time?

This process will be as unique as a fingerprint for each person, as we all have different comfort zones and stressors. Try and find where your comfort zone ends and take small steps just outside of it. With repeated practice, you’ll notice your comfort zone expanding as you become more confident with the activity.

gradual exposure hierarchy image

In general, here are some opportunities you may find useful for stepping outside of your comfort zone:

  • Start raising your hand more often to ask or answer questions
  • Volunteer to read aloud or answer a problem on the board whenever you’re feeling confident
  • Create a presentation using presentation software (recommendations above), but see if you can actually get through it without relying on the audio. If you get too nervous, you can use it
  • Rather than trying to get out of a presentation, ask your groupmates if you could take a lesser role with speaking; perhaps you could do more of the research to make up for it
  • Seek out your local Toastmasters group to practice public speaking away from the pressures of your own social circles
  • Try and attend small open mic nights and similar opportunities to gain experience with public speaking

Fun Fact: I successfully avoided presentations for the majority of my high school and college career. Afterward, I wound up working several jobs that forced me to confront this fear. First came a sales job, and next came a job that required me to speak in front of 150-200 people multiple times per day.

Turns out, I liked money more than I disliked public speaking.

List of Famous People with Public Speaking Anxiety

Sometimes a bit of solidarity goes a long way. Here’s a list of famous/successful people who have long been known to have suffered from public speaking anxiety:

  • Winston Churchill
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Prince Harry
  • Warren Buffet
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Tiger Woods
  • Rowan Atkinson
  • Jackie Chan
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Princess Diana
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Sir Richard Branson

As you can see… we’ve got some big names up there. And this is just a very small list of successful people who have been open about their public speaking anxiety – to say nothing of the silent majority!

Never forget, you’re far from alone in experiencing this – you can absolutely overcome presentation anxiety, stage fright, and glossophobia if you wish to!

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About the Author

Years of personal experience with anxiety disorders and panic attacks have led me to devise some pretty creative ways to keep my anxiety in check. In the past, anxiety and panic attacks felt like something I'd have to live with forever. Nowadays, panic attacks are a distant memory for me, and I'm free to pursue passions like writing and traveling the world. Hopefully, the information on this website can help you achieve the same. I do all the writing here myself, so don't hesitate to reach out with questions!

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extreme presentation anxiety

Manage Presentation Anxiety to Become Confident Public Speaker

by Janice Tomich

  • Fear of Public Speaking

I’m a public speaking coach, and I know that for a lot of people (including those you think look cool and composed on stage) the thought of public speaking creates a surge in anxiety levels. That anxious feeling is daunting because the out-of-control emotional rollercoaster usually overrides logic. Learning how to calm yourself down before a speech or presentation is an essential skill. 

When you don’t have the ability to calm yourself or manage your emotions it can stop you from volunteering to deliver a presentation (pass by an opportunity to be seen) or the reason for not sleeping well nights before the day you’re scheduled to be on stage. 

Presentation anxiety is an issue that clients often reach out to me for because having the ability to deliver presentations and communicate confidently is a skill that’s in high demand. It’s important that their ideas are heard. Direct reports look for strong public speaking and communication skills in their teams because it’s crucial to organizations that persuade and influence others without worrying they’ll be racked with anxiety.

Some of my clients described the anxiety as feeling weirdly outside of their body … out of touch with reality and as an outside observer looking at themselves. Their stressed out monkey mind takes control and they can’t figure out how to get out of the anxiety loop. 

Presentation anxiety can manifest in other ways such as excessive sweating, shaking or trembling, an octopus of knots in your stomach, or even nausea. It’s no fun when you waste time feeling the fear of public speaking before and during a presentation.

The bad news is when you’re on stage and feeling anxious it can have serious impact. So much so  that your mind goes blank because your amygdala has been hijacked . 

The good news is presentation anxiety (usually) can be managed. Just like anything else you learn and get better at, the tools and techniques can be worked through, however as always the caveat is they need dedication to a consistent practice. 

Investing your time to deliver presentations confidently is well worth the time compared to what happens to your career growth when you pass off presentations to your colleagues or decline speaking opportunities. 

Table of Contents

How Common Is Presentation Anxiety?

Public speaking anxiety can be managed.  You can’t entirely get rid of it, however there are tools and techniques to dampen down the anxiety and regulate it so you’re able to deliver speeches and presentations confidently. 

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 73% of us humans are affected by public speaking anxiety . The primary reason that the anxiety happens is because we fear being judged by others.

Many of the people you see that speak at events have some degree of a fear of public speaking but they have learned how to tame their anxiety. Even to the point they enjoy delivering presentations. 

So, many people experience presentation anxiety…how will you tame your own nerves?

It is possible for most anyone to enjoy public speaking. Once you’ve managed your anxiety and delivered a presentation that you’re proud of there is an energy that happens when you connect with your audience and you’ll find you’ll want to invite more speaking opportunities because of the rush you get. 

extreme presentation anxiety

Angela Ferarro Managing Director, International Education, Burnaby School District

(info on public speaking coaching package)

Steps To Manage Presentation Anxiety

Anxiety is fueled by the chattering, negative monkey brain that’s telling you stories that aren’t true such as, “this presentation is going to fall flat or what business do I have presenting?” 

Please know that the whiley monkey is lying to you. 

Getting rid of the monkey takes reeling your mind back and asking what’s really going on – figuring out what you’re believing that’s sabotaging your confidence. Then notice what you’re feeling. The feeling piece takes practice and patience because you need to slow down and listen. 

If you’ve spent years ignoring what triggers you it’s going to take some time and investigation to go inside and listen to what your emotions/feelings are telling you. 

The next step is acknowledging what you’re feeling and then letting it go. This visual works well: Visualize a nasty little gremlin on your shoulder that’s chattering away at you. Listen to it, thank it, and then in your mind’s eye make them dissolve/disappear. Give them a swat and send them on their way. To manage presentation anxiety take the time to go through each step – it’s is important to stop what fuels it. 

Without taking the time to learn where your anxiety is coming from you’ll have a difficulty managing public speaking anxiety. Or you might find that you’re doing okay and then for no reason – out of the blue – get bitten by it. 

It’s Not About You

It’s about your audience…what’s in it for them.

focus on your audience to help with presentation anxiety

To help shift the spotlight off of yourself consider how your presentation will help your audience. Think too about why you’re grateful to be the person to deliver the message. How are you being of service? 

By taking the focus off of yourself and realizing that you are delivering a presentation to educate or provide a service/product to help others, your mindset shift will tame your anxiety. It’s because you’ve moved the spotlight off yourself and focussed it on your audience. From this perspective there is no/little room for you to experience anxiety. 

Pro Tip: You may think your anxiety or nervousness is obvious to others. It’s usually not. I’ve been privy to many conversations where the speaker shared they had been really anxious and thought they were obviously nervous. They are usually  surprised to hear that no one could tell. 

Carefully Plan And Prepare Your Presentation

It’s key that in the first stages of getting ready for your presentation you understand why you’re giving it. It’s how you will really understand if you have been successful (or not) and will help you get a good foundation of what your audience wants and needs to hear from you. 

You are an expert in what you’re presenting. Your audience is not. Be cautious about bombarding your audience with too much information. Take your subject matter expert hat off and think back to when you were learning your craft or the gaps of knowledge that your expertise fills. Keep it simple and stick to the facts. 

I’ve built a framework to create and develop presentations that are simple and focussed. You can access it here . My framework works well to stop audience overwhelm, so you don’t build in extra concepts that will confuse and lose your audience.   

Practice Deep Breathing

deep breathing to manage presentation anxiety

Most adults don’t know how to take a deep breath. When asked they think they do but can only take a breath from their upper chest. Their breathing is constricted. It’s been a habit that’s built over lots of years. 

Have you watched a young child or a baby breathe when they’re sleeping? Their lower belly expands and contracts as they breathe. That’s what you’re aiming for.

Are you skeptical about how well deep breathing works to calm nerves? You’ll find this article and this one that is proven research. Or prove it to yourself. If you have a smartwatch that records your heartbeat take a number of deep breaths and watch your heart rate go down. It’s magic how well deep breathing works to regulate nerves and anxiety.

If you find taking deep breaths difficult to master  (you’re an upper chest breather) this explainer video will help you visualize the mechanics of deep breathing.

I encourage you to do a round of two to three deep breaths each time you practice your presentation. And do a few rounds just before your presentation. And set an alert on your phone or watch for a few times a day. Check in. Are you taking deep breaths?

Deep breathing is a worthwhile exercise to master. You’ll feel calmer for it.

extreme presentation anxiety

​​​​David Getzlaf Strategy Manager, Autonomy & Positioning, Hexagon

Turn Nervousness Into Positive Energy

There is a close connection to nervousness and excitement and reframing will change your perspective and tame your anxiety. 

Have you noticed that sometimes you tell yourself stories that aren’t true? Stories such as my colleagues won’t value what I’m sharing (they already know what I know) or there are people that know more about what I’m speaking about than I do. These types of stories breed anxiousness. 

Research tells us that by flipping the switch and using the word excited instead of negative ones will make us feel positive. 

There is a connection between words/thoughts that make us feel anxious and those that make us feel positive. 

The next time your thinking is going down a negative path, change your wording to excitement, which will change your perspective to a positive one. 

Practice Your Presentation

Practice your speech to help with presentation anxiety

Practicing just until you’re confident that you have learned your presentation will ease your public speaking anxiety. You’ll notice that I used the word learned and not memorized. 

Memorizing your presentation will fuel anxiety. It’s too time consuming and tedious to learn your presentation word for word. And when you’re practicing or delivering your speech if you forget your place or even one word you have set yourself up for trouble. Which will reflect badly on your delivery and cause more anxiety. It’s too much pressure!

You’re better served to memorize your outline and then riff/expand off of your points. The result will be a presentation that comes off as being natural and you will be more comfortable delivering it. 

Only practice until you are tired of practicing and of hearing your voice. You might have a few rough spots and rather than practicing your presentation in its entirety simply practice those. 

It’s by knowing your presentation well that you’ll manage any anxiety that bubbles up. 

Visualize Your Success

Elite athletes ‘watch’ themselves driving the ball onto the green or scoring goals. It’s from this type of positive perspective that you’ll  create a feeling of comfort and ease – watching from the theatre of your mind deliver your presentation. 

Taking yourself through the actions of getting ready, arriving on the stage, delivering, and taking in the applause. Key though is you’re not only watching your success. You need to also feel success too. 

Feel Your Feet On The Ground 

mindset techniques to relieve presentation anxiety feet on the ground

Try this quick tip just as you are about to deliver your presentation ground yourself by feeling your feet on the ground. This is a mindfulness technique that will pull you to the present rather than letting your monkey mind sabotage you with anxiety. 

Interrupt Your Anxiety While On Stage

Did you know that Steve Jobs practiced Apple new product rollouts for months and months before the conference events? He meticulously practiced for what could go wrong and had a Plan B down to every detail. Do the same by giving thought to what you will do if your technology doesn’t work so you’re not caught without your Plan B if technology doesn’t go as planned. 

Speaking too quickly and not really feeling the depth of your words can accelerate your nerves. Take your time, breathe, and give your words time to land by using pauses. You’ll notice that your audience will find it easier to get your point and the connection that happens when you’re on the same wavelength as your audience. 

If you find yourself going blank and unable to remember what you wanted to speak to next buy yourself time by taking a few sips of water or referring to your notes. No one except you will realize that you’re gathering your thoughts.

If you’re lost and unsure about how to make your presentation compelling, I can help.

Give more presentations

Give more presentations to manage presentation anxiety and to be a confident public speaker

When I returned to university as a mature student and struggled with a fear of public speaking I was determined to put it behind me. I made a point of volunteering for every opportunity I had to present to my cohort. It was naive because there is a foundation of skills that go hand and hand with practicing and raising your hand to every opportunity. 

Your presentation skills do get better with the more presentations you give. Presentation anxiety diminishes when you have experience successfully managing your anxiety, which builds confidence for the next one and so on. 

Performance Anxiety (Stage Fright) Disclaimer

Please seek medical support if you have severe performance anxiety.

If the techniques described above don’t make a difference to your anxiety level consider speaking with a medical professional. A medical professional can help with stage fright using cognitive behaviour techniques and by prescribing medications such as propranolol, which will slow down your heart rate and block adrenaline surges. 

I encourage you to reach out for help from your medical provider if your anxiety is severe. 

Most presentation anxiety can be managed so that you can deliver a presentation that is well received. It takes techniques such as shifting mindset, deep breathing to regulate your emotions, and practicing with the right focus. Managing presentation anxiety is doable and even better a goal that’s worthwhile. 

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Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

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Micah Abraham, BSc

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10, 2020

Fear of public speaking is incredibly common, and not just in those with anxiety. While anxiety tends to fuel public speaking fears, nearly anyone can suffer from this type of phobia. Public speaking anxiety is one of the most common fears shared among the general population, and unfortunately these days few people have the tools necessary to overcome this fear.

What Causes Fear of Public Speaking?

Fear of public speaking - also known as Glossophobia - has its roots in social phobia. It comes from the fear of being judged, which stems from all the attention that people place on you when you're speaking. Ideally, you need to be able to deliver a loud, effective speech. Yet doubts over our own ability combined with the knowledge that others are forced to pay attention to the words we share can create a feeling of fear that is tough to shake.

Public speaking fears are also frequently reinforced. No one gives a perfect speech. If you go up there and do a great job but make a few mistakes, your mind tends to focus on the mistakes, and your fear is then confirmed.

In addition, there is reason to believe that the modern day lifestyle makes glossophobia more common than it had been in the past. Consider the following:

  • More and more people spend their free time in less public situations, like online, which not only reduces public social interactions but also allows for complete anonymity. Those that spend a lot of time online become less used to the idea of talking in public and being judged.
  • Increasingly, people have work-related communication that requires fewer public speaking engagements. Now you can send emails, talk on the phone, or use online workrooms. No longer do you need to worry as much about others looking at you and judging you, which is a problem for future public speakers because it means less experience speaking in public.

It doesn't matter if you're younger or more experienced - the modern day lifestyle has less interaction with other people, which can only increase the ease to which people develop public speaking anxiety.

How to Reduce Public Speaking Anxiety

A little bit of anxiety as you prepare for a big speech or presentation is common. Even the best speakers in the world get a small amount of anxiety before they get on stage or speak in front of a large group. You should never expect yourself to be completely anxiety free. What you need is for that anxiety to fuel you into giving a great speech, not hold you back from speaking.

When your fear of public speaking overwhelms you, you need help. The problem is that we have a tendency to focus on the mistakes, so it's not always easy to overcome that anxiety right away. One mistake (and yes, everyone makes mistakes), and you may accidentally convince yourself that your fears were justified.

In order to cure your public speaking anxiety, you need to make smart decisions before, during, and after you speak. Some people get public speaking anxiety just by talking in front of their friends when their friends are in large groups.

In this case, we're talking about learning to speak in front of a group. It may be planned (such as a presentation at work) or unplanned (such as talking at a meeting when you have a good idea), but you still need to make the right choices and deal with your anxiety directly.

Below are strategies that will help you overcome your public speaking anxiety.

Before Your Speech or Talk

Practice thoroughly.

Obviously practice is step one, and the step that you need to complete beyond adequately. You practice for several reasons. You practice to remember your speech or your lines. You practice because it turns the act of speaking into more of an instinct. You practice because you become more familiar with what giving your speech and speaking up is like, so that if you do lose your way and your speech is derailed you have an easier time making your way back.

But you need to over-prepare. Don't just stop because you think you know it. Stop when you're annoyed that you have to keep doing it. Then do it three more times. The point isn't just to know your speech. The point is to know it so well that you don't even want to give it anymore. That's when you're ready to go.

Visualization and Relaxation

Your next step is to try to get used to the fears you're going to have. Do this only after you've practiced thoroughly. Then, imagine a huge crowd of people judging you. Imagine upset faces and anger. Imagine the things that will cause you anxiety.

Once you've done that, you should start to experience a bit of anxiety. Your heart rate should increase a little and your fear should start to take over. Once that happen, take some deep breaths. Try to relax. Imagine those frowning faces mean something better. Imagine that they really love your speech, and they're glaring at you because they can't handle it. Try to calm yourself down until you feel better, then keep going.

Once it no longer brings you anxiety, give the speech and imagine you're giving it in front of a hostile audience. See if you can calm yourself down while giving the talk without any distractions. That'll help you get used to it.

Get Used to Embarrassment

You can also try a strategy that some people use to get over their social phobia. You can try to get used to the idea of embarrassment. If you no longer fear embarrassment, your ability to overcome some of your public speaking fears will be cured with it.

How to do this is up to you. One of the easiest ways is to dress up in some ridiculous outfit and simply sit outside somewhere public. People will look at you, and people will think you look funny, and you'll feel embarrassed. But if you stay out there for a long time, eventually that embarrassment won't bother you anymore.

You can also do something a bit more active. You can try yelling in a bar ("who here loves baseball?!") or try to say "hi" to everyone you walk past. It's not that important what you do, but it is important that you do a lot of it. You do it until you it bores you, and you stop worrying about whether people are judging you.

This isn't a cure for public speaking anxiety on its own, but every little but helps.

What to Do on the Day of the Speech

On the day the speech arrives, you need to make sure you do all of the little things that help your body and mind control anxiety. You need to make sure that you're fully rested, with a good night's sleep. You need to make sure you're properly hydrated and that you've had full and healthy meals. You need to go jogging, or do something to relieve some of your muscle tension.

You should also prepare everything you need in advance, so that you don't have any worries about whether or not you have everything ready. You can try practicing the presentation one more time and do the visualization techniques again - or you can integrate many relaxation strategies to make sure you're calm for the day, such as:

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation

The less anxiety you experience that day, the easier a time you'll have on the speech. The buildup can be one of the worst parts, and avoiding the buildup will decrease the way that anxiety affects you.

Finally, remind yourself that it doesn't matter what people think. Don't go in there worrying about everyone else. Go in there reminding yourself that you've done what you can, and that no matter how well it goes you'll continue to get better.

There are strategies you can integrate when you start speaking to reduce anxiety as well. These include:

  • Starting Strong Don't try to ease into it. Start as loud as you can't. Don't even worry if you're a bit too loud. Many people think they'll start slow and ease into it, but the best thing you can do is start strong.
  • Look at No One Don't worry about looking at people. Look around the room as though you're talking to everyone. You may find yourself getting more nervous if you can't help but look at one or two people and they're not giving you the "face" you want. Look around the room to ease some of the tension you have about someone specific judging you.
  • Don't Worry About Stumbles It's easier said than done, but you should never expect it to go perfect. Perfection takes years of practice, and none of the most world renowned speakers were as skilled right away. You can look back at old YouTube videos of well-known speakers and see the way that they stumble. If you lose your place or something happens, just figure out where you were and keep going.

Once you're into the speech there isn't as much you can do. But there are ways to improve the likelihood of a positive outcome. As soon as it's over, pretend you did a great job. Worry about any mistakes you may have made later.

After the Speech is Over

One thing that many people don't realize is that what you do after a speech can also affect how well you are able to handle the next time you speak. If you sit in the corner and think about all of the things that went wrong, then you'll worry about the next speech more. If you allow yourself to feel too "relieved" as well, you'll reinforce the idea that what you did was scary, and increase the likelihood of fear next time. Consider the following:

  • Write Down 10 Positives The mind has a tendency to focus only on the negative, but the truth is that ample positive things occurred during the speech. Make sure that you acknowledge them for yourself. Even if you had a terrible presentation and stumbled over every word and cried on stage, there are things that you can write out that were positive. For example, remembering some important lines, some degree of eye contact, speed of talking - don't worry about the negatives and write out the positive things so that you're not letting your mind increase your anxiety.
  • Don't Party There's a tendency after big speeches to party hard. After a college graduation, for example, many people go out and celebrate. Some celebration is okay, but keep it moderated. You don't want to see the speech as something tremendous you overcame, and partying too hard can actually cause more anxiety. If you must go out, keep it as low key as you can, and don't try to numb your high emotions.
  • Give the Speech Again Finally, if you did have a truly bad presentation, or you simply can't stop focusing on the negatives, give the speech one more time in the comfort of your own home, either to your family or to your dog or to nobody at all. One of the problems is that your last memory of giving the presentation is up on stage when you were anxious. Replace it, by having your last memory be of you sitting in your pajamas talking to a wall with a poster of a cat hanging from a tree branch.

How You Can Overcome Public Speaking and Anxiety

The reality is that you can recover from your fear of public speaking. Using the above tips can be a big help. If you're also someone that suffers from anxiety regularly, you'll also benefit greatly from controlling your overall anxiety. Anxiety tends to be cumulative, and those with anxiety are far more likely to develop public speaking fears.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods? – Anonymous patient
You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process. – Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP

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To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Stop Thinking About Yourself

  • Sarah Gershman

extreme presentation anxiety

Tips for before and during your presentation.

Even the most confident speakers find ways to distance themselves from their audience. It’s how our brains are programmed, so how can we overcome it? Human generosity. The key to calming the amygdala and disarming our panic button is to turn the focus away from ourselves — away from whether we will mess up or whether the audience will like us — and toward helping the audience. Showing kindness and generosity to others has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which has the power to calm the fight-or-flight response. When we are kind to others, we tend to feel calmer and less stressed. The same principle applies in speaking. When we approach speaking with a spirit of generosity, we counteract the sensation of being under attack and we feel less nervous.

Most of us — even those at the top — struggle with public-speaking anxiety. When I ask my clients what makes them nervous, invariably they respond with the same answers:

extreme presentation anxiety

  • Sarah Gershman is an executive speech coach and CEO of Green Room Speakers. She is a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, where she teaches public speaking to leaders from around the globe.

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A Guide to Understnding Presentation Anxiety

presentation anxiety

We’ve all been there before. The room is dark, and the only light comes from the projector screen in front of you. You can feel everyone’s eyes on you, and your heart is racing. You take a deep breath and begin to speak, but your mind goes blank. You stumble over your words, and by the end of your presentation, you feel like a complete mess. If this sounds familiar, then you may be suffering from presentation anxiety. In this blog post, we will discuss what presentation anxiety is, how to recognize it, and how to overcome it!

  • 1 Defining Presentation Anxiety
  • 2 Signs And Symptoms
  • 4 Link With Other Disorders
  • 5 Consequences
  • 6.1 Be rehearsed
  • 6.2 Practice positive self-talk
  • 6.3 Build cues
  • 6.4 Ensure comfort
  • 6.5 Release tension
  • 6.6 Know your triggers
  • 6.7 Set realistic goals
  • 6.8 Breathe deeply
  • 6.9 Normalize failure
  • 6.10 Visualize success
  • 6.11 Seek professional help
  • 7 Conclusion

Defining Presentation Anxiety

Defining Presentation Anxiety

The important thing to note is the difference between shyness/nervousness and anxiety. While everyone may get a bit nervous before presenting, those with presentation anxiety often experience more intense symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, trembling, and even nausea. For some people, the fear is so intense that they may avoid presenting altogether.

It is also essential to keep in mind that presentation anxiety is not the same as stage fright. Stage fright is the fear of being on stage in front of an audience. This can be due to a bad experience in the past or a general feeling of uneasiness. While presentation anxiety is focused on the content of the presentation and how well you will do, stage fright is more about the physical act of being on stage.

Signs And Symptoms

Recognizing the signs and red flags of presentation anxiety is the first step in overcoming your fear. For some people, the symptoms may be very mild and only occur in specific situations. Others may find that their anxiety is more constant and interferes with their daily lives. The most common signs and symptoms of presentation anxiety include the following.

  • Avoiding social situations or events where you know you will have to present
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, trembling, or nausea
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Having trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Feeling irritable or on edge
  • Imagining the worst-case scenario
  • Fearing that you will embarrass yourself or be judged negatively
  • Having intrusive and negative thoughts
  • Dry mouth or difficulty speaking
  • Mind going blank during presentations
  • Feeling like you are going to faint or pass out
  • Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks in the days leading up to your presentation

It is important to remember that this is only an outline of some of the most common symptoms. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, so you may experience other symptoms not listed here. If you are unsure whether or not you are suffering from presentation anxiety, it is best to consult with a mental health professional.


  • Fear of public speaking : For many people, the thought of speaking in front of a group is enough to trigger anxiety. This can be due to a bad experience in the past or a general feeling of uneasiness.
  • Perfectionism: If you are someone who strives for perfection, then the thought of making a mistake in front of an audience can be very anxiety-inducing.
  • Lack of experience : If you have little to no experience presenting, then it is only natural to feel anxious about it. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
  • Imposter syndrome : This is the feeling of being a fraud or not good enough for the task at hand. It is common among high-achievers and can be very debilitating.
  • Fear of being judged or evaluated negatively: This is a common cause of anxiety for many people. The fear of being judged by others can be very overwhelming and often leads to avoidance behaviors.
  • Lack of preparation: If you do not feel prepared for your presentation, it is only natural to feel anxious.
  • Previous bad experiences: If you have had a bad experience presenting in the past, it is likely that you will feel anxious about doing it again. This is because you may be worried that you will make the same mistakes or that the outcome will be just as bad.
  • Low self-esteem or lack of confidence: Lastly, if you do not feel confident in your abilities, it is likely that you will feel anxious about presenting. This is because you may be worried that you will not be able to do a good job or that you will be found out as a fraud.

It is essential to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. What may cause one person to feel anxious may not have the same effect on another.

Link With Other Disorders

Our psychology and emotions are not separate entities. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that presentation anxiety is often linked with other disorders. The most common ones are as follows.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder : This is a disorder characterized by excessive and long-lasting anxiety that interferes with daily life. It often leads to avoidance behaviors, as well as physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Social anxiety disorder : Also known as social phobia , this is a disorder characterized by intense fear and anxiety in social situations. It often leads to avoidance behaviors and can be very debilitating.
  • Panic disorder: This is a disorder characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These panic attacks are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and sweating.
  • Agoraphobia : This is a disorder characterized by fear and anxiety of situations where escape may be difficult or impossible. It often leads to avoidance behaviors and can be very debilitating.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: This is a disorder characterized by intrusive and distressing memories, flashbacks, and nightmares of a traumatic event. It often leads to avoidance behaviors and can be very debilitating.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder : This is a disorder characterized by intrusive and distressing thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It often leads to avoidance behaviors and can be very debilitating.

As you can see, presentation anxiety is often linked with other disorders. If you are experiencing anxiety, it is important to seek professional help.



  • Poor performance: When we are anxious, our performance often suffers. This is because we are not able to think clearly or focus on the task at hand. As a result, our presentations may be poorer quality and we may not be able to achieve our goals.
  • Avoidance: As mentioned earlier, anxiety often leads to avoidance behaviors. This means that we may start to avoid situations where we have to present. This can lead to missed opportunities and a decline in our career or studies.
  • Isolation : When we start to avoid social situations, we may start to feel isolated. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression .
  • Health problems: Anxiety can also take a toll on our physical health. When we are anxious, our body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This means that our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and we may start to experience chest pain, headaches, and stomach problems.
  • Mental health problems: Anxiety can also lead to mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders , and substance abuse .

If you are experiencing any of the above consequences, it is important to seek professional help. These consequences may be dire but are manageable. This is why it is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing anxiety.

Tips To Overcome

The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available for those suffering from presentation anxiety. Some people may only need to make a few lifestyle changes, while others may require more intensive treatment. The key is to try different methods and see what works for you.

Be rehearsed

The foremost step to lessen your anxiety is to be rehearsed. This will help you be more confident and in control when presenting. You may do so by practicing your presentation in front of a mirror or videotaping yourself. This will help you catch any mistakes and give you a better idea of how you come across to others.

Practice positive self-talk

positive self-talk

· “I am prepared.”

· “I can do this.”

· “I am confident.”

· “I am not perfect and that is okay.”

If you think you can make it to the end of your presentation without any cues, you are wrong. Cues help to ground us and remind us of what we need to say next. They can be anything from keywords written on index cards to physical prompts like rubbing your hands together. Incorporating these cues will help you feel more prepared and in control.

Ensure comfort

Anxiety is bound to make you feel odd or uncomfortable. To counter this, it is important to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible. This means wearing clothes that you feel good in, being aware of your posture, and making sure that the room temperature is not too hot or cold.

Release tension

Anxiety makes its way into our body and makes us hold onto tension. This can lead to physical discomfort and make it difficult to focus. To release this tension, you may want to try some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga. You may even want to try aromatherapy or meditation.

Know your triggers

Know your triggers

Set realistic goals

When we set unrealistic goals, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. This can trigger our anxiety and make it harder to cope. To avoid this, it is important to set realistic goals for ourselves. This means being realistic about what we can achieve and not putting too much pressure on ourselves.

Breathe deeply

Don’t forget to monitor your breathing. When we are anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid. This can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness. To avoid this, make sure to take deep belly breaths throughout your presentation. This will help to calm you down and ease your anxiety.

Normalize failure

If you still fail or are unable to meet your goal, it is important to remember that this is normal. We all make mistakes and we all have days where things don’t go as planned. What is important is that you learn from your mistakes and keep trying. Don’t let one failure define you or your presentation skills.

Visualize success

Another method that can help ease your anxiety is to visualize yourself being successful. See yourself giving a great presentation and imagine the audience applauding you. This will help increase your confidence and reduce your anxiety.

Seek professional help

Seek professional help

At last, if your condition is too severe and is impacting your daily life, it is important to seek professional help. This doesn’t mean that you are weak or crazy. It just means that you need a little extra help to get through this tough time. There is no shame in seeking help from a therapist or counselor. They may make use of the following techniques.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy : This type of therapy helps to identify and change the negative thoughts and behaviors that are causing your anxiety.
  • Exposure therapy : This therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the things that trigger your anxiety. This can help you to learn how to cope with your triggers and eventually overcome them.
  • Narrative therapy : This therapy involves telling your story and working with a therapist to find a new perspective. This can help you to see your anxiety in a new light and eventually overcome it.
  • Free association: This therapy involves saying whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself. This can help to identify the root of your anxiety and eventually work through it.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to help control your anxiety. Your doctor can prescribe you with medication that will help to ease your symptoms.

If you suffer from presentation anxiety, know that you are not alone. Millions of people around the world suffer from this condition. However, there are ways to ease your anxiety and make it more manageable. By following the tips above, you will be on your way to giving a great presentation. So don’t let your anxiety hold you back—you can do this!

To conclude our blog post, we can say that presentation anxiety is a common problem that many people face. However, there are ways to overcome it. By being aware of your triggers, setting realistic goals, breathing deeply, and visualizing success, you will be on your way to giving a great presentation. If your anxiety is severe, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. With the right help, you can overcome your anxiety and live a normal life.

If you or someone you know is looking for psychological help, Therapy Mantra is here for you. We are the leading providers of online therapy and counseling. Our team of highly trained and experienced therapists can provide assistance at the most affordable rates. Contact us today to learn more about our services. You may also visit our website to book an  online therapy  session or download our free  Android  or  iOS app  for more information.

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Phil Lane MSW, LCSW

How Are Situational and Generalized Anxiety Different?

Understanding these two distinct types of anxiety informs treatment..

Posted July 3, 2024 | Reviewed by Davia Sills

  • What Is Anxiety?
  • Take our Generalized Anxiety Disorder Test
  • Find counselling to overcome anxiety
  • Situational anxiety and generalized anxiety are not the same, though they are often confused.
  • Major differences between situational and generalized anxiety include duration, intensity, and root causes.
  • Paying attention to unique life circumstances can help in coping with anxiety, stress, and worry.

Situational, Not Pathological

In the mental health field, we tend to pathologize and diagnose even commonly encountered challenges. Through the lens of human experience, however, we can recognize that some emotional and mental states, such as anxiety , stress , sadness, and anger , are not only shared by all of us but also not necessarily pathological. Enter situational anxiety.

Different than generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or specific phobia , this is the type of anxiety that ties directly to a situation(s) in our lives. These situations can run the gamut from experiences like career changes to buying a home to becoming a parent to undergoing a change in physical health status. Although anxiety experienced in these types of scenarios may not qualify for an anxiety disorder diagnosis, it is no less uncomfortable or challenging.

Situational Anxiety vs. Generalized Anxiety

The main differences between situational anxiety and generalized anxiety are duration and intensity, as well as root causes. Generalized anxiety is just that: generalized to an individual’s daily life without a specific identifiable cause or trigger. Situational anxiety, on the contrary, is rooted in a specific and identifiable cause and is typically less acute than generalized anxiety, though it is still disruptive and uncomfortable. The following two client examples illustrate the difference in how these two distinct types of anxiety present themselves:

Client A: Reports persistent feelings of worry and panic but is unable to identify what they are in relation to or what causes them. She reports that feelings of anxiety are present for most of the day and disrupt her ability to carry out daily tasks and obligations.

Client B: Reports that he has recently started a new job and taken on new responsibilities. Though it was something that he had desired, he reports that it has caused additional stress and feelings of anxiety regarding his ability to deliver on his new responsibilities. Though the anxious feelings are uncomfortable, Client B reports that he feels he is still able to carry out his daily tasks.

Notice that Client B is readily able to identify the source of his anxiety, whereas Client A reports a much more ambiguous anxious presentation. Furthermore, Client B reports that his anxiety poses more of a nuisance than something that prevents him from daily functioning. It is likely that Client A may be a candidate for a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, whereas Client B does not necessarily fit those diagnostic criteria. This difference will influence the type of intervention that is helpful for each client.

Treatment Differences

When treating a chronic, persistent disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, a medication intervention is often helpful. Though not the right fit for all clients, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors ( SSRIs ) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can be helpful for treating generalized anxiety. These medications, however, may not be appropriate for situational anxiety, as this type of anxiety is often not present for the long term and dissipates as an individual adapts to a challenging situation or as the situation becomes more stable. In both cases, psychotherapy can be helpful as a supportive force wherein a collaborative approach can help individuals learn to navigate anxiety and cope with difficult situations.

Why Paying Attention to Your Circumstances Is Important

It is important to understand your unique life circumstances so that you can be aware of what is happening around you and in your life, job, family, and environment that might be contributing to feelings of anxiety, worry, and stress. When we are attentive to and aware of all that is happening in our lives (and it’s typically a lot), we are better able to report our symptoms, draw connections between symptoms and circumstances, and identify healthy ways to cope.

The next time you are anxious, ask yourself, “What is happening in my life?” Pay attention to changes, transitions, challenges, dilemmas, and uncertainties, as these all influence how anxiety presents itself. When you recognize and acknowledge the complexities of your life, you find yourself more equipped to seek adaptive methods of coping with situations.

Phil Lane MSW, LCSW

Phil Lane, MSW, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of the book, Understanding and Coping with Illness Anxiety.

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    5. Adopt a positive mindset. Actively work to replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your strengths, past successes, and the value of the information you're sharing. A positive mindset can improve your self-esteem and reduce the impact of presentation anxiety. 6.

  4. Speech Anxiety: Public Speaking With Social Anxiety

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  5. Beating Presentation Anxiety: 5 Steps to Speak Confidently

    Practice deep breathing exercises before stepping onto the stage to calm those nerves. Besides deep breathing, adopting power poses backstage can significantly boost your confidence levels. Although it may sound crazy, this is a tip from social psychologists that has helped many speakers take control of their anxiety.

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  9. Here's How to Overcome Presentation Anxiety

    That way, you're more likely to hit the ground running and feel confident from the start. • Psych yourself up. Turn your nervousness into excitement. Convince yourself that you can't wait to get out there, connect with people, share valuable information and make a difference — large or small — in people's lives.

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    Conclusion. Overcoming presentation anxiety is a journey. It begins with recognizing and managing your nervousness, then building confidence through preparation and practice. Relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety, while facing your fear of public speaking helps with personal growth.

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    Consider making a video of your presentation so you can watch it and see opportunities for improvement. ... other examples include stage fright, test anxiety and writer's block. But people with severe performance anxiety that includes significant anxiety in other social situations may have social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia ...

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  14. Overcome presentation anxiety easily with these steps

    The first (and most obvious) way to overcome presentation anxiety is to do everything you can to ensure that things go smoothly, and that means you have to prepare. One of the most nerve-wracking talks I ever prepared for was my presentation at TEDxEast. I knew that this performance, in particular, could have a huge impact on the way the world ...

  15. How to Manage Your Anxiety When Presenting

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  16. 30 Ways to Manage Speaking Anxiety

    Employ anxiety reduction techniques Aerobic exercise Deep muscle relaxation Visualization strategies Deep, rhythmic breathing (4 hold 7) 19. Use the restroom immediately before the talk 20. Take a glass of water to the talk The Presentation: A positive experience stemming from careful preparation! 21.

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    Take control of your breathing. 478 breathing is a simple technique that works. Simply breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds through the mouth. Find a focus object. Choose a point, or several points, to focus on in the room.

  19. PDF Top 10 Tips for Managing Presentation Anxiety*

    Think about positive outcomes and say positive affirmations. 2. Say tongue twisters to warm up your voice and become present oriented. 4. Gesture broad and forward so your arms don't become defensive. 6. Hold a cold bottle of water to reduce sweating and blushing. 8. Step forward when you start to avoid retreating.

  20. Manage Presentation Anxiety to Become Confident Public Speaker

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  21. Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

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    The most common signs and symptoms of presentation anxiety include the following. Avoiding social situations or events where you know you will have to present. Experiencing physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, trembling, or nausea. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Having trouble sleeping or concentrating.

  24. How Are Situational and Generalized Anxiety Different?

    Anxiety does not always take on a generalized presentation. At times, identifiable underlying situations can influence anxiety. It is helpful to understand this distinction.