Public Speaking Program:
Coping with Public Speaking Anxiety1
The most important thing to remember when coping with anxiety is that even the most
experienced public speaker is nervous before a presentation. However, the experienced
public speaker also knows that nerves are not your enemy! In fact, being nervous can
work to your advantage, giving you an added boost of energy.
Before the Presentation:
If possible, pick a topic that interests you. This sounds obvious but does make a difference.
• Consider the format. If a question & answer format is more comfortable for you than a
formal presentation, structure your presentation as a series of questions you can answer.
• Prepare note cards or an outline with main ideas, transitions, and important arguments. Use
these notes when practicing to get familiar with them. (Number your cards.)
• Practice, Practice, Practice! If you know the material really well, you won’t be as worried
about making a mistake.
• Ask your friends to listen to you give your presentation:
In addition to feedback on delivery, this can give you feedback on the clarity of your
If the person who is listening to you doesn’t know how to give you feedback, ask
them specific questions about your presentation or tell them ahead of time what you
want them to listen for.
• Give your presentation out loud in your room or, if you can, practice in the room in which
you will be presenting.
• Wear appropriate, yet comfortable clothes.
If you are going to be wearing clothes that you are not used to wearing (heels or a suit), then
practice the presentation in those clothes.
If you know that when you are nervous you play with your jewelry, don’t wear it. Wear your hair
pulled back if you tend to play with it.
• Your clothes should not call too much attention to themselves.
• Picture yourself succeeding—think positively!
1 Tamara Burk “Tips for Managing Public Speaking Anxiety”