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Public Speaking Anxiety Tricks and Tips for a Better Performance

Public Speaking Anxiety Tricks and Tips for a Better Performance

Public speaking anxiety is a common issue that affects about 15–30% of adults in the U.S. It’s a form of performance anxiety that makes you feel on edge when giving a speech to an audience, leading to sweaty palms, a racing heart, and shaky voice that can affect the quality of your speech or cause panic

Numerous strategies, from immediate relaxation techniques to long-term solutions, can help manage this issue. This article presents public speaking anxiety tricks you can use to cope with this condition, helping you deliver your next speech or presentation with confidence.

Determining Your Public Speaking Anxiety Triggers

The first step in overcoming the fear of public speaking is to determine what triggers your fear. Identifying the specific factors that trigger your anxiety can help you demystify it and point you toward the most effective solution. It can also help you prepare for these situations, reducing your overall anxiety levels.

Determining your public speaking anxiety triggers involves understanding two key aspects:

  1. Causes of the fear of public speaking
  2. Symptoms of public speaking anxiety

What Causes the Fear of Public Speaking?

Public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, is often accompanied by physiological processes that occur when we perceive a threat. When faced with the prospect of speaking in front of an audience, our bodies may release adrenaline, a natural chemical that can trigger a “fight or flight” response as if we’re in danger. 

Elevated adrenaline levels can lead to several physiological changes, including rapid breathing and heightened senses, leading to intense nervousness and anxiety. 

Specific factors that can contribute to the fear of public speaking include:

  • Past negative experiences—If you’ve had a bad experience, such as forgetting your lines, you might fear it will happen again
  • Fear of embarrassment—Public speaking can be uncomfortable if you’re afraid of making mistakes or not meeting the audience’s expectations
  • Lack of preparation—If you’re not adequately prepared for your speech, you might fear that you’ll forget what to say or how to answer specific questions from the audience, causing anxiety

Symptoms of Public Speaking Anxiety

The symptoms of glossophobia vary among individuals and depend on several factors, but they typically fall into two categories:

  1. Physical symptoms
  2. Psychological symptoms

Check out the table below for more details:

Physical Symptoms

Psychological Symptoms

  • Trembling hands or legs

  • Feeling faint or dizzy

  • Cracking or trembling voice

  • Nausea or stomach upset

  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath

  • Excessive worry

  • Obsessive thoughts about failure

  • Avoidance of situations requiring public speaking

  • Intense fear of criticism or negative evaluation

  • Difficulty concentrating 

Immediate Relaxation Methods To Control Speech Anxiety

Source: Werner Pfennig

Learning quick relaxation techniques is crucial for helping you manage anxiety in the moment, such as before or during a public speaking event. Some medications can also be highly effective in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety before a performance.

Five quick ways to manage the fear of public speaking are:

  1. Positive affirmations for confidence building
  2. The 4-7-8 breathing technique
  3. Guided imagery
  4. Progressive muscle relaxation
  5. Beta-blockers as a short-term solution

Positive Affirmations for Confidence Building

According to clinical studies, positive affirmations, or statements that challenge self-sabotaging and negative thoughts, can be effective in reducing moderate subclinical public speaking anxiety.

They replace negative thought patterns with positive ones, reducing feelings of anxiety and improving self-confidence. For example, affirming “I am confident and calm. I’m going to do well” before a speech can boost your confidence, alleviating the fear of negative evaluation.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique can help lower anxiety by altering your breathing pattern. To practice it, follow these steps:

  1. Inhale quietly through the nose for four seconds
  2. Hold your breath for seven seconds
  3. Exhale slowly through the mouth for eight seconds

This can help calm your nervous system, slowing your heart rate and reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. Focusing on your breathing can also distract your mind from anxious thoughts about your upcoming speech, enhancing the focus required for good performance.

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery entails visualizing a peaceful and calming scene or situation, providing mental escape that can be effective in reducing the symptoms of stress often associated with public speaking, interviews, and tests. Visualizing a successful speech or presentation can also calm your nerves by alleviating self-sabotaging thoughts.

Some practical tips for making the most out of guided imagery include:

  • Start with a clear goal—Before you begin, have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your visualization. For public speaking, this could be giving a successful speech
  • Use all your senses—For the best results, involve all your senses in the visualization. Imagine the sound of your voice, the feeling of the microphone, the ambiance of the stage, and the sight of the audience
  • Practice regularly—The more you practice guided imagery, the better you’ll get at it. Set aside a few minutes each day to practice

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can help decrease physical tension, a common symptom of anxiety. This method involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group to induce a sense of calm and control, which can be beneficial when preparing for a public speaking event.

To perform PMR, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed
  2. Curl your toes tightly for about five seconds, then relax
  3. Tighten your calf muscles as if you’re trying to lift your foot, hold for about five seconds, then relax
  4. Tighten your thighs as if you’re pressing your knees together, hold to the count of five, then release
  5. Squeeze your buttocks together tightly, hold for about five seconds, then relax
  6. Suck your stomach in, hold for about five seconds, then release
  7. Arch your back up and away from the floor or chair, hold for about five seconds, then relax
  8. Raise your shoulders as if you were trying to touch your ears, hold for about five seconds, then relax
  9. Make a tight fist and squeeze, hold for about five seconds, then release

Ensure you breathe deeply and regularly during these exercises, and repeat this cycle 2–3 times. With practice, you’ll find your body relaxes more easily and quickly.

Beta-Blockers as a Short-Term Solution

Beta-blockers bind to beta-receptors in the heart, suppressing the release of stress hormones like epinephrine and noradrenaline. By blocking the effects of these chemicals, they alleviate symptoms like increased heart rate and rapid breathing.

These drugs are typically prescribed to patients with heart conditions, such as angina and high blood pressure, but they’re also efficient in the treatment of situational or performance anxiety. 

Two beta-blockers typically used for occasional anxiety are:

  1. Propranolol
  2. Atenolol

Check out the table below for basic facts about these medications:



Available Doses

Typical Dose for Anxiety


  • Tablet

  • Capsule

  • 10 mg

  • 20 mg

  • 40 mg

  • 60 mg

  • 80 mg 

  • 120 mg

  • 160 mg

10–40 mg 



  • 25 mg

  • 50 mg

  • 100 mg

25–100 mg

You can only get beta-blockers with your doctor’s prescription. They’re typically used as needed and aren’t intended for long-term management of public speaking anxiety. 

To determine whether beta-blockers are the best solution for your anxiety issues, you should consult your healthcare provider. With the use of beta-blockers for performance anxiety somewhat stigmatized, most patients may shy away from discussing this effective option with their doctors.

The good news is that telemedicine clinics provide a discreet and secure way to consult healthcare professionals and get beta-blockers prescribed for anxiety. Kick, an online performance medicine clinic, connects you with doctors who can remotely assess your health status and prescribe the most appropriate beta-blocker.

Source: RDNE Stock project

Kick—Helping You Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety

Kick offers a unique approach to managing situational or performance anxiety. The program entails:

  • Online consultations—You don’t need to wait in line as Kick offers quick online consultations with experienced doctors
  • Personalized treatment—After reviewing your information, your doctor prescribes appropriate medication and instructs you on its use
  • Discreet delivery—Your medication arrives in discreet packaging at your home or local pharmacy, so the process is convenient and private
  • Continuous support—You can ask your doctor questions any time via the platform, ensuring constant support

How To Join Kick

To join Kick, follow three simple steps:

  1. Start your 10-minute consultation on the signup page
  2. Fill out the questionnaire with your medical history and specific anxiety issues
  3. Provide your delivery and payment information

Kick’s expert will assess your situation and contact you in 24 hours. If your doctor decides Kick isn’t the best solution for your specific issue, you won’t pay for the initial consultation as per our Doctor Guarantee.

Glowing reviews on Trustpilot testify to Kick’s effectiveness in providing a patient-centered approach to managing performance anxiety. To experience the benefits first-hand, sign up for the program now.

Source: RDNE Stock project

Who Should and Shouldn’t Use Beta-Blockers?

While beta-blockers are generally safe, they aren’t meant for everyone. Check out the table below for a detailed breakdown of who should and shouldn’t use these medications:

Who Can Take Beta-Blockers?

Who Shouldn’t Take Beta-Blockers?

  • Individuals who experience occasional performance anxiety

  • People with high blood pressure

  • Individuals who have had a heart attack

  • Patients with heart failure

  • People diagnosed with angina

  • Individuals with abnormal heart rhythm

  • Individuals with chronic social or generalized anxiety disorder

  • People allergic to ingredients in beta-blockers

  • Individuals with low blood pressure

  • Patients with a slow heart rate

The table above isn’t exhaustive, so inform your doctor about any medical conditions you have before taking beta-blockers.

Side Effects of Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers carry the risk of side effects, although patients who use these medications under the guidance of their healthcare provider rarely experience them.

Check out the table below for a detailed breakdown of the common side effects of these medications:

Physical Side Effects

Psychological Side Effects

  • Cold hands or feet

  • Dizziness

  • Dry mouth, skin, or eyes

  • Fatigue or tiredness

  • Slow heart rate

  • Decreased performance on neuropsychological tests

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Rapid, extreme changes in mood

  • Short-term memory loss

These lists aren’t exhaustive. Inform your healthcare immediately if you experience any adverse reactions while on these medications.

Source: Pavel Danilyuk

Long-Term Strategies for Overcoming Speech Anxiety

Long-term strategies for overcoming public speaking anxiety involve practices that require regular commitment but can yield significant improvements over time. These strategies aim to address the root of the anxiety, helping you become more comfortable with public speaking in general.

Some long-term strategies for coping with public speaking anxiety include:

  1. Regular exposure and practice
  2. Joining a support group
  3. Mindfulness and meditation

Regular Exposure and Practice

Regular exposure and practice, a concept rooted in exposure therapy, can help you overcome glossophobia. It involves gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to the fear-inducing situation—public speaking, in this case. Follow four key steps to incorporate this strategy:

  1. Begin with less intimidating situations like speaking in front of friends or at small group meetings
  2. Gradually increase the size of the audience and complexity of your speech, such as presenting at larger meetings or public events
  3. After each speech, identify areas where you felt most anxious
  4. Note what went well and what didn’t and use this information to improve your next performance

Facing the fear head-on can help desensitize yourself to it, making public speaking a more manageable and even enjoyable experience.

Joining a Support Group

Support groups provide a safe and supportive environment where you can practice public speaking and receive constructive feedback. They allow you to share experiences, learn from others, and get encouragement. 

Groups such as Toastmasters International provide structured programs that let you progress at your pace. The sense of community in these groups can also help alleviate the sense of isolation often associated with public speaking anxiety.

Attending meetings and participating in group activities can also help you overcome social anxiety, which can contribute to glossophobia. 

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can reduce anxiety by decreasing the production of the stress hormone cortisol. They also promote relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which can slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. These effects can be beneficial before a public speaking event for a calm and confident delivery. 

Regular mindfulness and meditation practice can also improve attention and focus, which are crucial for effective public speaking. These techniques can be effective for calming nerves during interviews, exams, or social gatherings. 

Featured image source: Matheus Bertelli