Controlling Anxiety During Public Speaking

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response of the body to a stressful situation. It is a feeling of fear, unease, and worry that can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and shallow breathing. Anxiety is a normal and beneficial emotion that helps us prepare for dangerous situations. However, excessive and persistent anxiety can interfere with our daily life and cause distress.

What are the causes of anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by various factors, such as genetics, environment, and life experiences. Some people may have a higher predisposition to anxiety due to their genes or brain chemistry. Others may develop anxiety due to stressful and traumatic events, such as abuse, loss of a loved one, or job-related stress. Environmental factors such as poverty, violence, and social isolation can also contribute to anxiety.

How does anxiety affect public speaking?

Public speaking is a common trigger of anxiety for many people. It is a situation that can be perceived as threatening, as it involves exposing oneself to the judgment and scrutiny of others. The fear of public speaking can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as sweating, trembling, racing heart, dry mouth, and negative thoughts.

Public speaking anxiety can be so severe that it can interfere with one's ability to perform well and enjoy the experience. It can affect one's self-esteem, career prospects, and personal relationships. Thus, it is essential to learn how to control anxiety during public speaking.

What can you do to control anxiety during public speaking?

Prepare and practice

One of the best ways to reduce public speaking anxiety is to prepare and practice. This means researching and organizing your topic, creating an outline, and rehearsing your speech several times. The more you practice, the more familiar and comfortable you will feel with your speech. You can also record yourself speaking and review the recording to identify areas that need improvement.

Breathe deeply and relax

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help you calm down and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety. Take slow, deep breaths, filling your lungs with air and exhaling slowly. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body, starting from your feet and working up to your head. Other relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and visualization, can also be effective.

Challenge negative thoughts

Many people experience negative thoughts and self-doubt when preparing for public speaking. They may think that they are not good enough, that they will make mistakes, or that others will judge them negatively. These thoughts can increase anxiety and make it more difficult to perform well. To challenge negative thoughts, try to reframe them in a positive and realistic way. For example, instead of thinking "I will make a fool of myself," think "I am well-prepared and capable of delivering a good speech."

Practice coping strategies

It is important to have coping strategies in place in case of unexpected stress or anxiety during public speaking. Some effective coping strategies include humor, positive self-talk, and distraction. You can also use calming activities such as listening to music, closing your eyes, or focusing on a relaxing image. Remember that it is okay to take a break and gather yourself if you feel overwhelmed.

Seek professional help

If your public speaking anxiety is severe, persistent, or interfering with your daily life, you may want to seek professional help. A mental health professional can assess your symptoms, provide you with coping strategies, and help you develop a treatment plan. This may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.


Public speaking anxiety is a common and treatable condition. By preparing and practicing, breathing deeply and relaxing, challenging negative thoughts, practicing coping strategies, and seeking professional help if necessary, you can control your anxiety and enjoy the experience of public speaking. Remember that anxiety is a natural response to stress, and that it is possible to learn how to manage it effectively.