Managing Speech Anxiety

Giving a speech in front of your peers and professor can be a little nerve wracking.  Most of us, regardless of how confident and prepared we are, will experience a little bit of speech anxiety before, during, or even after presenting your speech. This anxiety may mess with your thoughts and make you jittery and confused, however; “feeling nervous is not only normal but desirable! Channeled properly, nervousness may actually boost performance” (O’Hair, Rubenstein & Stewart, 2010). Now this may sound strange to you, but it is true! If you are able to use that nervous energy to make you sound and look animated, it will improve your speech rather than standing there stumbling over your words.

Some tips for channeling that anxiety into positive energy during your speech includes finding what makes you nervous. If you are able to pinpoint exactly what is making you nervous it may help you eliminate that fear by simply facing it. Another tip is to be sure you are fully prepared before you give your speech. One thing that can cause nervousness is realizing that you are under prepared and that the speech or presentation will lack things. If you pay attention to your assignments and complete each part of it to the best of your ability, your anxiety may lessen because you know you are fully prepared.

Everyone experiences speech anxiety including professional speakers who do it every single day. The difference between a professional and a student taking a beginning public speaking course, “is that the seasoned speakers know how to make their nervousness work for rather than against them” (O’Hair & Rubenstein, 2010). If you take the time to channel your nerves and use them to your benefit you will be a lot better off during your presentation.


O’Hair, D, Rubenstein, H, Stewart, R. (2010). A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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