Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of Public Speaking

Teen: Dear Dr. Expert,

I have an intense fear of speaking in public! It's gotten really bad. Every time I have to get up and do a presentation for school, my heart starts beating fast, I get ringing in my ears, and I'm sure I'm going to pass out! It's gotten so bad that I have been pretending to be sick every time I know I have a presentation. It's beginning to affect my grades because I keep getting bad marks on presentations.

Failing in Fort Nelson
Dr. Expert: Dear Failing in Fort Nelson,

Unfortunately there really aren't any shortcuts - the best way to overcome a fear of public speaking is to face your fear head on! However, just as when you were learning to swim you didn't jump right into the deep end of the water without floaties, you want to face this fear gradually.

First, practice relaxation strategies like calm breathing. Learning to relax can make speaking in public a little easier.

Next, make a list of all the possible ways you could present in public from the least scary to the scariest. For example, presenting in front of your family may rate a 3 out of 10 on your fear ladder of how afraid you are, so ask them to be your audience as a good first step. After you have mastered that, you might progress to inviting a couple of other friends over to hear you talk. Later steps could be talking in the classroom with just the teacher present, showing a video of yourself doing the presentation in front of the whole class, and later presenting in front of the class.

If you work on fighting your fear in small steps daily, you'll be public speaking in no time! Remind yourself that everyone gets embarrassed sometimes and it doesn't last forever - you'll live! And if the worst thing you can imagine is others laughing at you for making a small mistake, plan for what you would do if that happened - the best strategy is to say "Whoops! Um, rewind!" and laugh with them. Rehearsing how you would handle some of those situations will help you feel more confident and shine. Good luck!

Learn more about facing your fears.

For more help and ideas, check out the MindShift app.