Reduce your public speaking anxiety with these 7 tips

What do Mahatma Gandhi, Jackie Chan and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? Not much you might think! And yet, they belong to the 77% of the population who are anxious about speaking in public.[i] So if you are feeling limited by your anxiety to speak in public, don’t worry, you are not alone! 


Public speaking anxiety may be experienced in different degrees. Some people have butterflies in their stomachs and clammy hands. Others experience more pronounced symptoms such as extreme perspiration, an upset stomach, a racing heart, dizziness, and shaking.

The good news is you can harness your anxiety about public speaking and turn it into mere excitement at the prospect of addressing a large crowd of people. To do so, start with the following seven tips.

How to reduce public speaking anxiety

1. Make sure you are ready for it

There is nothing worse in terms of anxiety than stepping on a stage and being insecure about the content you are about to deliver. Make sure you have prepared and rehearsed your speech, so the words come easily and flow naturally.

Doing this will help you master your topic; you won’t need to rely so heavily on memorising the content of your presentation or speech. Reciting or reading a text in a lively manner is actually much harder and usually comes across as dull. Instead, jot down the main points on a piece of paper or on your laptop. This will enable you to look mainly at your audience and connect with them. 

Is there a Q&A session at the end of your presentation? If there is, brainstorm in advance the kinds of questions that your audience may ask you and think of a suitable answer. This will increase your confidence to deliver your presentation.

Have a bottle of water and a snack at hand and use the toilet facilities before starting (you don’t want to be distracted by these physiological needs during your presentation!)

2. Breathe, pause and posture

Once the adrenaline floods our blood, we tend to rush what we want to say. Anxiety triggers shallow breathing, which leads to muscle tension, shaking, feeling sick, and many more symptoms. This impacts the power of our voice and ultimately our confidence to speak in public. Make a conscious effort to breathe slowly and deeply. By doing this, your parasympathetic nervous system will kick in, which will regulate your blood pressure and induce a calmer, more relaxed state.

Pauses are very important too! Remember people need time to process what you have to tell them. Don’t give them too much information in little time. Take your time, enjoy the moment and your audience will do the same!

Posture is another particularly important point that can have an impact on your confidence. Make sure you stand tall or sit upright. This will help you breathe properly and project your voice more easily.

3. Relax before the speech

Learning and practising relaxation on a regular basis will have a dramatic impact on how you feel on the day of your presentation or speech. If you are constantly stressed and anxious, your mind struggles to think clearly and logically. Incorporating relaxation and breathing exercises into your daily routine (even for as little as three or four minutes at a time, twice a day) will sharpen your mind!

Going for a walk in nature or spending a few hours in a spa is another way to feel relaxed. Hypnotherapy is a great tool to relax too. Your hypnotherapist will also use positive suggestions to boost your confidence to become a great public speaker.

4. Envision confidence and success

Visualisation is another tool to become more confident at delivering this important speech or presentation. Sit on a comfortable chair or sofa and spend some time to imagine yourself delivering your speech confidently. You may notice the adrenaline rushing in your body; just choose to feel it as the excitement of being offered this opportunity to address so many people and connect with them.

5. Do not expect perfection

Your audience will hear your speech or presentation only once. There is no need to strive for perfection, for two reasons: firstly, because perfection doesn’t exist – there’s always room for improvement, as the saying goes. Secondly, because they will almost certainly fail to notice that you forgot to tell them about something or that you went off on a tangent. Likewise, they probably won’t notice the mistakes you make. 

Accept that you cannot know everything. It is absolutely fine to acknowledge that you don’t know something, but you will make a note to find the answer later, or that you had never thought about that comment that an attendee just made.

6. Be tech-savvy

Don’t ignore the technical aspects of a presentation or speech! If you choose to use a PA system or a software package such as PowerPoint or Keynote, make sure you can operate them, so your presentation runs smoothly and stress-free. 

Will you need a microphone? If you do and you hold it in your hand, make sure you keep it close to your mouth when you speak. If it is on a stand, remember you will need to stay close to it if you turn your head, otherwise people simply won’t hear you. It is certainly worth rehearsing this. Ask a friend or colleague to give you feedback so you can correct these mistakes.

On the day, make sure you arrive early so you can calmly set everything up and engage with the attendees as they arrive without stressing about being ready to start on time. 

7. Connect with your audience

Last but not least, people love a presenter who engages with them. Show them what a warm person you are. As you slow down your speech, you will have time to notice your audience for what they really are - people like you. Remember they want you to do well and they want to feel included in what you are about to tell them. Humour is another great tool! As long as it is respectful, it is a powerful way to connect with your audience. 

Do you want extra support?

I can help you manage your anxiety with hypnotherapy and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). I can also coach you to learn the core skills required to become a confident public speaker. Feel free to contact me to learn more.


[i] Heeren, A. et al. (2013) “Assessing public speaking fear with the short form of the personal report of confidence as a speaker scale: Confirmatory factor analyses among a French-speaking Community Sample,” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, p. 609. Available here

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Caterham, Surrey, CR3
Written by Thierry Gauthier, MHS, SMACCPH EFT & NLP Practitioner
Caterham, Surrey, CR3

Thierry Gauthier is a Registered Hypnotherapist, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Practitioner, Certified Personal Performance and Business Coach.

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