You've successfully subscribed to Kick Health Blog
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Kick Health Blog
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.
How To Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking—A Comprehensive Guide

How To Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking—A Comprehensive Guide

Speaking in front of a crowd is easier said than done—the spotlight, the audience, and the pressure to deliver can make us feel anxious, impacting our ability to communicate our message effectively. It’s an experience that many relate to, from students to executives. 

The good news is that the fear of public speaking is surmountable. Depending on whether it’s occasional or stems from chronic anxiety issues, you can use pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical methods to cope with this problem. This article will describe the causes of this type of anxiety, its common signs, and ways to overcome it.

What Causes the Fear of Public Speaking?

The fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is a common phenomenon that can be traced back to how our bodies respond to perceived threats. When faced with a situation that feels stressful, such as speaking in front of a crowd, our bodies release stress hormones like adrenaline. It’s part of the body’s natural “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that prepares us to confront or flee from potential harm.

The adrenaline surge triggers a series of physiological and psychological changes, which can be intense, affecting your ability to communicate your message effectively to an audience. In severe cases, it can lead to a panic attack

Check out the table below for a detailed breakdown of the symptoms of glossophobia:

Physical Symptoms

Psychological Symptoms

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Trembling

  • Dry mouth

  • Sweating

  • Shaky voice

  • Fear of embarrassment

  • Fear of making mistakes 

  • Negative self-talk 

  • Fear of criticism 

  • Mental fog

Why Do People Fear Public Speaking?

The fear of public speaking can stem from several factors, such as:

  • Past negative experiences—If someone has had embarrassing experiences while speaking in public in the past, they may develop a fear of reliving those moments
  • Lack of experience—People who aren’t used to speaking in public may fear the unknown and make mistakes, contributing to nerves
  • Personality traits—Introverted or shy individuals may find the prospect of public speaking unnerving
  • High-stakes situations—When a lot depends on a presentation, like a job or a significant business deal, the pressure can intensify the fear
  • Perfectionism—People who are perfectionists may fear not living up to their high standards and making mistakes in public

Source: Kathrine Joy Sorongon

Best Way To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

You can employ numerous tricks to cope with the fear of public speaking. Three effective ways to overcome this type of anxiety are:

  1. Cognitive restructuring
  2. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques
  3. Beta-blockers for occasional performance anxiety

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is a psychological treatment that can help you recognize and alter negative thought patterns that lead to distress. When it comes to public speaking, obstructive thoughts like “I’m going to mess up” can affect your confidence when addressing an audience. Cognitive restructuring can help you identify these negative thoughts and challenge them.

For instance, the thought “I’m going to mess up” can be replaced with a more positive and realistic one, such as “I’m well-prepared and will do my best.” Studies suggest that this shift in mindset, or self-affirmation, can significantly reduce stress, alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and improving performance.

Still, changing thought patterns takes practice and patience, so cognitive restructuring may be more appropriate if you’re considering a long-term strategy for coping with performance anxiety.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be effective in overcoming the fear of public speaking because they help you stay present and focused, alleviating symptoms of anxiety.

Check out the table below for more details on the different strategies to reduce anxiety:



How To Use It

Mindful observation 

It involves focusing on an object in your environment to ground yourself in the present

  1. Choose an object in your environment

  2. Focus your attention on the object

  3. Observe it without judgment


It involves breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures

  1. Choose a quiet and comfortable space

  2. Practice yoga postures while focusing on your breath

  3. End with a meditation or relaxation pose


It entails focusing your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place

  2. Close your eyes and take deep breaths

  3. Focus your mind on your breath or a positive mantra

These techniques are more effective when practiced regularly, not only in the moments before you have to speak in public. If you need instant relief for occasional nerves, consider less demanding methods, such as taking beta-blockers.

Beta-Blockers for Occasional Performance Anxiety

Beta-blockers prevent specific chemicals like adrenaline (epinephrine) from binding to the beta receptors in your body. These receptors are found in many tissues throughout the body, including the heart and blood vessels.

When adrenaline binds to beta receptors, it causes the heart to beat faster and stronger and the blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure. By blocking these effects, beta-blockers can lower blood pressure, reduce chest pain, and decrease the risk of heart failure.

These medications also alleviate the symptoms associated with performance anxiety, including:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling

Because of this, they can be used off-label to manage the fear of public speaking. 

Still, you should only use beta-blockers under the guidance of a healthcare professional, and you can only get them with your doctor’s prescription. Even though they can be pretty effective, their use in treating performance anxiety is somewhat stigmatized, so most people may not open up to their healthcare providers about their specific needs. 

The good news is that telemedicine clinics offer a discreet and convenient way to seek help for performance anxiety. For example, Kick lets you consult healthcare professionals online, discuss your symptoms, and, if appropriate, get beta-blockers prescribed.

Source: Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent

Kick—Your Trusted Partner in Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

Kick provides gentle treatments to help you feel confident about public presentations. The program entails beta-blockers like propranolol and atenolol, which can be effective if you need occasional relief from performance anxiety.

The features of Kick’s program include:

  • Quick consultations—You can complete a quick online visit in a few minutes, helping you receive treatment in the shortest time possible
  • Personalized treatmentsOur doctor will assess your medical history and prescribe the most effective medication for you
  • Ongoing support—Kick offers ongoing support from specialists, so you can consult your doctor anytime
  • Discreet packaging—Your medications are discreetly packaged so no one will know what’s inside, allowing you to take them inconspicuously 

Getting Started With Kick

To join Kick’s performance anxiety program, follow three steps:

  1. Visit the signup page to begin your 10-minute consultation
  2. Fill out the questionnaire to help us understand your health status
  3. Add your delivery and payment details

If you choose express delivery, your medication will be delivered to your doorstep in two days. If Kick’s team decides you’re not the best candidate for the program, you won’t pay for the initial consultation, according to our Doctor Guarantee.

Kick’s program has raving reviews on Trustpilot, attesting to its effectiveness.

Source: RDNE Stock project

Side Effects To Consider When Using Beta-Blockers for Anxiety

Even though beta-blockers can be effective in managing the symptoms of anxiety, they carry the risk of side effects, including:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleep disturbances or nightmares

To avoid unwanted reactions, you should stick to your healthcare provider’s instructions. Beta-blockers are meant for short-term use, so you should only take them as needed, typically two hours before the stressful situation.

If you experience side effects while on beta-blockers, inform your doctor immediately. 

Additional Strategies To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Additional strategies you can employ to overcome the fear of public speaking are:

  1. Exposure therapy
  2. Practice and preparation
  3. Positive visualization
  4. Support groups

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to a fear-inducing situation—in this case, public speaking. The goal is to reduce the fear response over time. To use this technique, follow these guidelines:

  • Start small—Begin by imagining yourself speaking in public, then move on to speaking in front of a small group of friends or family
  • Increase gradually—As your comfort level increases, gradually expose yourself to larger groups and more formal settings
  • Repeat—The more you expose yourself to the fear-inducing situation, the less anxiety it will cause
  • Consider virtual reality—If real-life situations are too scary at first, consider using virtual reality technology to simulate public speaking experiences

Practice and Preparation

Preparation is crucial when it comes to public speaking. Knowing your topic well, organizing your thoughts, and practicing your presentation multiple times can make you feel more confident and significantly reduce anxiety. Some guidelines that may help in this case include:

  • Know your material—The better you understand what you’re talking about, the less likely you’ll make a mistake or get off track
  • Organize your thoughts—Create a clear structure for your presentation to help you stay focused and make your message more understandable for your audience
  • Practice—Rehearse your presentation multiple times to familiarize yourself with the material and reduce anxiety
  • Anticipate questions—Think about what questions your audience might ask and prepare your responses in advance

Positive Visualization

Positive visualization, or guided imagery, can be effective in managing anxiety related to public speaking. To use this technique, follow these four steps:

  1. Visualize success—Close your eyes and imagine yourself delivering a successful presentation, with the audience responding positively, applauding, and appreciating your talk
  2. Visualize the process—Visualize the entire process, including preparation, arriving at the venue, setting up, and delivering your talk
  3. Replace negative thoughts—If negative thoughts creep in, consciously replace them with positive ones
  4. Practice regularly—Practice can help make the event feel more familiar and less intimidating, alleviating anxiety symptoms

Support Groups

Source: Dani Hart

Joining a support group can be fantastic for dealing with public speaking anxiety. These groups provide a safe space to test your public speaking skills and receive constructive feedback. They also let you learn from others who are dealing with the same fears.

Some tips to consider include:

  • Find a local group—Look for local public speaking groups in your area
  • Participate actively—Engage with the group instead of merely observing
  • Learn from others—Watch and learn from how other members calm their nerves and engage the audience
  • Ask for feedback—Constructive criticism helps you identify specific areas to improve to build your confidence
  • Be patient—Overcoming public speaking anxiety can take time

These strategies may be more extensive and more appropriate if your fear of public speaking is caused by social anxiety. If you only experience performance anxiety during public speaking, interviews, exams, or on stage, consider medications designed for occasional use, like propranolol and atenolol.

Featured image source: Pavel Danilyuk