How to Beat Anxiety About Speaking

Three Methods:Giving a Public SpeechSpeaking with Social AnxietySpeaking Help

Speaking in public can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Many people, even those who speak in front of groups frequently, find themselves nervous, sweaty, or shaking when they stand in front of a large group to speak. However, public speaking doesn’t have to be an embarrassing or unpleasant experience—with a little practice, experience, and a few tricks, you can become a more confident and successful public speaker.

Method 1
Giving a Public Speech

  1. Image titled Choose a Role Model Step 2
    Acknowledge whatever fears or anxieties you have about speaking. This will give you a more personalized understanding of what makes you nervous. It may even help to make a list.[1] Public speakers often dislike speaking for varying reasons; some dislike their voice, while others fear a poor audience reception. Make a list of your personal anxieties about public speaking. A specific list will help make the problem feel more manageable and less overwhelming. Example anxieties include:
    • Discomfort standing on a stage / behind a podium.
    • Concerns about physical awkwardness—physical stance, hand gestures, etc.
    • Unhappiness about a tendency to rush through public speeches.
  2. Image titled Make a Sales Presentation Step 2
    Be knowledgeable about your topic. It doesn't matter if it's an informal conversation or a presentation, if you know what you're talking about you'll feel confident. This will involve hours of research, approach this speaking engagement as if you are working to master the concept itself, not as if you’re merely trying to memorize enough facts and talking points to get you through a brief talk.[2] Talk to others who are knowledgeable about the topic of your speech, and see if they can help you craft a sharper, better focused talk.
  3. Image titled Make a Sales Presentation Step 3
    Practice your speech many times. A speaker who has rehearsed their talk many times to themselves in private will be well prepared to deliver a successful talk in public, whereas a speaker who has poorly rehearsed will probably struggle to deliver their speech successfully. Many speakers find it useful to practice in front of a mirror; this allows you to observe your own body language and eye contact.[3] When you practice:
    • Speak confidently.
    • Stand with good posture.
    • Encourage yourself, even verbally. Try saying, “This speech will be a success whether or not I stumble over a few words.”
    • Before you recite your speech, tell yourself, “What other people think of me is none of my business; I’m free to make mistakes.” Don’t worry too much about whether the audience approves or disapproves of you!
  4. Image titled Excel in a Retail Job Step 1
    Take your time when you speak. Trying to rush will make you tongue tied. A slow flow may put your audience to sleep, while too fast of a speaking rate will stress your audience; they may even struggle to understand what you are trying to say.[4] Use a stopwatch (or the stopwatch function on your phone) to measure the number of words that you speak per minute. A good speed should have between 120 and 150 words per minute; if you speak fewer than 100 per minute, your speed is too slow. If you exceed 160, slow down.
  5. Image titled Get a Job Fast Step 11
    Remember to breathe. When a speaker is nervous, their first inclination will be to tense up and to contract the abdominal muscles, bladder, throat, etc. A limitation of air intakes and a lack of oxygen can change your voice dramatically. Deep breathing increases oxygen your lungs and brain, which promotes relaxation. Whenever you feel stressed, consider taking a deep breath and reconnecting with your body.
  6. Image titled Succeed in Network Marketing Step 10
    Prepare a script for your speech, but don’t read from a paper word-for-word. If you are not reading a speech word-for-word, your hands will be free to make whatever gestures feel natural, and you can make eye contact with members of the audience.[5] This works best if you’re intimately familiar with your speech (and have practiced the talking points many times). You should know roughly what you’re going to say, but give yourself permission and freedom to elaborate important ideas onstage. To avoid reading a script, many speakers:
    • Use a PowerPoint or Prezi, with limited words on each page.
    • Prepare note cards, each of which contains a single talking point.
    • Memorize their presentation, so they can speak without being tied to visual aids.
  7. Image titled Make a Sales Presentation Step 6
    Focus on the positive aspects of your performance. No speech will ever be perfect, and speaking in front of a group is an environment in which mistakes are often made, even by professionals. Once you step off the stage, review the speech in your mind: what went well, what went poorly? If you talk with members of the audience, they likely noticed the positive aspects of your speech, and forgot about the negative parts. You should allow yourself to make mistakes, but also focus on the strengths of your speech, and use those to deliver an even better speaking performance next time.

Method 2
Speaking with Social Anxiety

  1. Image titled Make a Sales Presentation Step 8
    Learn which social situations you feel comfortable in, and which you feel uncomfortable. It’s rare for a person with social anxiety—or any kind of anxiety about speaking in a social setting—to feel equally uncomfortable or panicked in every social setting.[6] Maybe you’re more comfortable in rooms that you’re already familiar with, or when you’re with a certain friend or family member. Pay attention to which social situations trigger you and which don’t, and try to gain social confidence from those settings in which you’re already comfortable. These could include:
    • Talking in a room or building that you’re already familiar with.
    • Talking in social settings when you’re with a friend or family member.
    • Talking with people about a topic on which you’re already knowledgeable.
  2. Image titled Convince Your Boss to Let You Work from Home Step 5
    Listen more than you talk. In any social setting, it’s important to be an engaged listener and to pay close attention to the people you’re sharing a conversation with.[7] This will help you feel more comfortable when you do decide to talk; if you focus on the person who is speaking and engage with them mentally and emotionally, you will feel less anxiety when you have an opportunity to speak in the conversation.[8]
  3. Image titled Empower People Step 16
    Speak confidently, calmly, and don’t let stress overwhelm you. When you are conversing or speaking in a social setting, speak to people with direct engagement. It’s best not to come across as aggressive or pushy, but you should come across as being open and honest.[9] That said, even people who are comfortable in social settings sometimes feel anxious or stressed; these feelings will often be worse for individuals with social anxiety. To avoid stress in a social conversation:
    • Take a few deep breaths.
    • Step outside of the room; take a few minutes to calm down.
    • Use humor to diffuse a potentially stressful situation.
  4. Image titled Choose a Role Model Step 8
    Engage in more social conversations using empathy and listening skills. At some point, you’ll have learned enough from listening to others speak and from talking socially in safe, comfortable environments, that you will start feeling more comfortable in general social settings. Approach all social conversations with a focus on listening to the people around you, and when you speak, do so—at least initially—with an emphasis on finding common ground, sharing your emotions with the other members of the conversation, and confidently contributing your own thoughts and opinions.[10]

Speaking Help

Sample Speaking Exercises

Sample Orators

Sample High School Treasurer Speech


  • Pause between each new thought.
  • Open your mouth so that the sound can get out, and project your voice.
  • If you find yourself saying ‘um’ or ‘er’ too often, try thinking them instead.

Article Info

Categories: Public Speaking | Speaking and Listening Skills