Public Speaking: My Thoughts on Handling the Anxiety

I think at some point in all of our lives, we’ve had to deal with speaking to a crowd. Whether it was for a school project or a community play or business presentation, we’ve all been in a position where we’ve had to stand in front of an audience and absorb all of its attention.

Like many people, I dread giving presentations. Being the focal point of a large group of people seems like a horrific nightmare. That’s actually one of the foremost reasons why I love blogging. It’s much easier for me to share my thoughts by typing them into a computer rather than speaking them aloud.

Leading up to a big presentation, emotions are running high. There are so many fears and doubts and anxieties scampering through your brain. You think about the eyes of the audience members, boring into you like lasers. You think about your mind going blank, forgetting all the things you’re supposed to say. Your heart races. Your head spins. Your stomach churns. Nothing seems worse than the possibility of failing in front of a crowd.

Public speaking has been one of my greatest worries for as long as I can remember. As someone who tends to overthink things, I would always get myself worked up about presentations in school. When I was in sixth grade, I had to give a short speech about the layers of the Earth in my science class. I had made a Styrofoam model of the planet and painted each layer in distinct shades of red, orange, and yellow. It wasn’t a difficult assignment. All I was required to do was explain what each color represented. Simple.

As I sat at my desk, waiting for my turn to present, I felt my palms start to grow clammy. In my head, I repeated the four layers–the Crust, the Mantle, the Inner Core, the Outer Core–over and over. I told myself to push all my reservations away, and focus solely on getting through my speech.

When the teacher called my name, I scurried to the front of the classroom, legs quaking. I held out my Styrofoam model and looked out into the sea of faces that surrounded me. All of a sudden, everything I thought I knew had vanished. My brain was a blank slate. I could hear the blood rushing through my ears and feel the prickle of forty-two eyes staring me down. My fears had come to life.

Awkwardly, I made my way through the presentation. I didn’t just stumble over my words–I toppled over them at full-force. The minute-long presentation dragged on for what felt like hours. When it finally ended, I bolted back to my seat and drooped my head n silence.

To my sixth grade self, this was the worst thing that could have happened. As I got older, I realized something critical: that was the worst that could have happened.  A moment of embarrassment was the most damage that could be done. After all the fretting I had done, this felt so insignificant. It was like reading a suspenseful book that culminated in a boring finale. I couldn’t believe this moment had me so nervous.

The point I am trying to convey is that despite what our fears may tell us, a botched presentation will not define our lives. When it comes to stresses that seem big but are actually small, it’s important to put everything into perspective. And while public speaking may always been strenuous, it might help to remind yourself that embarrassment really isn’t as bad as it seems.

Thank you so much for reading. I realize this is a lot different from what I normally post, but hopefully it can be helpful.

 

How do you feel about public speaking?

Sincerely,

Paige

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Hi, I'm Paige and my favorite things are lipstick, books, and coffee.

20 thoughts on “Public Speaking: My Thoughts on Handling the Anxiety

  1. I have this horrendous thing that happens me for presentations where my legs physically shake and I have no control over them! But surprisingly this piece actually helped. You’re right, that is the worst that can happen. Huh! I can’t believe I never thought of it that way before. Thank you!

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  2. Great post. I understand where you’re coming from. Up until now I’m in college and I still get scared of public speakin I had to take that subject again. But after several deep breaths and thinking the same thing I think I over came it a little. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve always been mortified to speak in front of people. I get so much anxiety leading up to a presentation. I’m that person who turns bright red too. In school I would avoid anything that had to do with speaking in front of people. In college, I waited till my last semester to complete a public speaking class (which was mandatory). Thankfully, the professor had a great way at explaining fears that everyone had and just made me feel comfortable. By the end of the class I didn’t fear talking in front of my peers. I still wouldn’t go on my own free will to talk in front of a group though. I just think to myself that everyone is probably nervous before they talk in front of a group of people and just to fake it till you make it. Just be confident in what you’re talking about and not worry about what anyone else is thinking. ❤

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  4. Hi, Paige! Whilst I do get super nervous for public speaking, I have actually competed in some public speaking competitions and gotten through to the next round. With me, it’s mostly a case of thinking that most people want to will you on, and if not, then a little embarrassment is okay because at least you had the guts to go up there, do it and complete it – if you get what I’m saying? Because at the end of the day lots of people get very anxious about speaking, even people used to it as a hobby, like me. You’re doing better than you know, and willing yourself on definitely helps 🙂

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  5. I can relate to this so much! I have a tough time giving speeches in front of a large crowd as well. It is nerve wracking to a point where sleep evades me and anxiety grips my head mean before the night of any presentation. It becomes so awful that I just say no to any opportunity I am given to be on stage. I wish I could change that.

    Thank you for reflecting this particular topic today, I’m sure many people can relate to this one!
    Love,
    Anaida

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  6. Paige, public speaking is about the most feared thing to do, more than dying! It’s easy to see why. I had to take a public speaking course in college, and not only did we speak in front of other, but the presentations were video taped and played back! iI was awful.

    However, over the course of my career, i eventually was asked to do presentation in the pet industry. The biggest ego boost is having someone come up to you and say your presentation was great, and that they learned something. What I learned was over a life time you absorb so much knowledge, and you are not even aware of it – until someone asks you to explain or talk on a subject you know well. All of a sudden you realize how much you know. It was such an incentive that for a while I had a business doing speaking engagements and education programs. All of a sudden, it was fun!

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  7. I am lucky- I really don’t have a problem with it! However, I totally understand that most people hate and dread it. I think that a big part of public speaking is being a good listener! Chances are, that person may be struggling for their life up there- a reassuring smile, nods to show you are listening, and note-taking (if appropriate) are all ways to encourage a speaker. I have certain things that I hate to do, and having encouragement makes a world of difference. Proud public speakers, do your part and help out others! Wonderful post 🙂

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  8. I don’t like public speaking, I started having an anxiety attack! I avoid it at all cost! The only time I can do it is when I was a preschool teachers aid and that was easy peasy because they were kids…but adults…nope I can’t handle!

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  9. Ahhh, public speaking. I’m forced to do a lot of it at my work and to be honest, it’s taken me a looooong time to get used to it. Before I begin, I try convincing myself it’s fine. I’m like people do it all the time, there’s nothing to fear. The funny thing is that I cannot ever pin point WHY! I’m nervous with no reason, it’s awesome.. lol!!

    X

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