No discussion of public speaking could continue without first addressing the problem of stage fright.


Two separate studies have found what most of us already knew: people are afraid of speaking in public. One study found that 40% of people claim that public speaking is their biggest fear. According to the other study, 70% of people rank giving a speech as the thing they are most afraid of.


Think for a moment about what those findings are telling us. If a large percentage of people are afraid of public speaking, then that means we're not alone at feeling scared when we stand in front of an audience. That should be some consolation, at least.

Feeling Fear is Normal

Another thing that should make you feel better about your fear is to realize its normal. When the human body gets ready for any big event, it starts sending out signals which cause bursts of adrenaline to be released.

Its the adrenaline which causes all of the symptoms we associate with speech anxiety, including having sweaty palms, feeling flushed, having a pulse rate, etc. Everyone, including accomplished professionals in music, athletics, and politics, experience the exact same thing before a performance.

If realizing that your anxiety is a natural reaction and that millions of people, including the majority of people in your audience, have the same fear you do doesn't help you to relax, then here are a few additional tips they will lessen your speech anxiety:

Prepare for your speech

If you wait until the last minute, you will be more nervous. The more you practice and prepare the more comfortable you will be with your presentation.

Visualize your success

One of the reasons we fear speaking in public is that we've never done it. We always fear the unknown. If you close your eyes and visualize yourself successfully delivering the speech, you will literally trick your brain into believing you've done it before and you won't feel as nervous.

Realize that no one can see your nervousness

Even though we're extremely nervous, we don't want anyone in the audience to know that we are and the more we worry that they can the more nervous we become. You need to realize that most of your nervousness is invisible to the audience. To them, you just seem to be calmly presenting your speech.

Understand that mistakes are going to happen

No matter how much you prepare and practice mistakes will happen. While we may be devastated if we screw something up during our speech, the truth is that the audience will only realize that you've made an error if you draw it to their attention. Instead of making a big deal out of the error, you should simply take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and keep moving on as if nothing ever happened.

Hopefully, these tips will help you the next time you have to give a speech. Once you get beyond your anxiety about public speaking, you'll begin to experience those benefits we talked about earlier. They should make the effort worth it.