Skip to Main Content

University of Tennessee
Managing Your Fear of Public Speaking


Managing Your Fear

Student Suggestions

Suggestions offered by students in previous Public Speaking classes here at UT include:

  • Give yourself a chance – to fail and then to succeed, you can not improve if you do not try
  • Be yourself
  • Be prepared
  • Do not expect to be perfect

Do's and Don'ts

    Do     Don't
  • Choose a topic that you know well and like
  • Have a positive “can do” attitude
  • Set realistic goals – a fantastic speech is not a “perfect” one
  • Regard the audience as a source of support and your reason for giving the presentation in the first place, not as judge and jury hoping you will fail
  • NEVER memorize a speech
  • Never read your speech verbatim (public reading is not public speaking)
  • NEVER apologize for anything at the beginning of your speech
  • Never forget that most signs of nervousness are not noticed by the audience and seem magnified tenfold by those experiencing it

Manage the Physical Symptoms

Ways to physically manage the fear/anxiety (no single suggestion will work for everyone):

  • Deep breathing exercises – to reduce heart rate and induce feeling of calmness
  • Meditation/Relaxation – do yoga, mediate, stretch, take a bath
  • Stress relief – have a massage, listen to music, engage in a favorite hobby/activity
  • Exercise – run, lift weights, swim, take an aerobics class
  • Maintenance – sleep and eat well
  • Find a “happy place” – mentally imagine yourself in a very desirable, stress-free, relaxing, no “public speaking” location (such as the beach, the mountains, the mall, the gym, etc.) and experience that sense of serenity/peace/contentment