Public speaking anxiety: Coping tips | Speak New York

Why Do I Get Anxiety Attacks During Public Speaking?

Public speaking can be a daunting task for many people. It’s not uncommon to experience some level of anxiety when faced with the prospect of speaking in front of an audience. However, for some individuals, the anxiety can escalate to the point of experiencing full-blown anxiety attacks. If you’re one of those individuals, you’re not alone. Many people experience anxiety attacks during public speaking. In this blog, we’ll explore the root causes of this phenomenon and strategies for coping.

Anxiety Attacks During Public Speaking: What Are They?

An anxiety attack, also known as a panic attack, is a sudden episode of intense fear or discomfort that reaches its peak within minutes. The symptoms of an anxiety attack can be physical, such as sweating, trembling, and heart palpitations, or psychological, such as feelings of dread or impending doom.

When it comes to public speaking, anxiety attacks can be triggered by a variety of factors. For some individuals, it may be the fear of being judged or evaluated negatively by the audience. It may be the fear of forgetting what they want to say or being unable to articulate their thoughts clearly. Whatever the trigger, anxiety attacks during public speaking can be debilitating and make it difficult to deliver an effective presentation.

The Root Causes of Anxiety Attacks During Public Speaking

To understand why some individuals experience anxiety attacks during public speaking, it’s helpful to examine the root causes. Here are a few potential factors that may contribute to anxiety attacks during public speaking:

  1. Fear of failure: Many people are afraid of failing or not meeting their own or others’ expectations during a presentation. This fear can be a significant source of stress and anxiety.
  2. Past negative experiences: A previous negative experience with public speaking, such as being ridiculed by an audience can create a fear that affects future speaking events.
  3. Lack of preparation: Feeling unprepared or underprepared for a presentation can contribute to anxiety and self-doubt.
  4. Perceived audience judgment: The fear of being judged or evaluated negatively by the audience can be a significant source of anxiety.
  5. Overestimation of the risk: Individuals may overestimate the potential negative consequences of their presentation, such as losing their job or damaging their reputations.

Strategies for Coping with Anxiety Attacks During Public Speaking

While experiencing anxiety attacks during public speaking can be overwhelming, there are several strategies you can use to cope with these episodes. Here are a few tips for managing anxiety attacks during public speaking:

  1. Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization techniques can help you calm your nerves and reduce anxiety.
  2. Prepare and rehearse: Being well-prepared for your presentation can help build confidence and reduce anxiety. Rehearsing a presentation in front of a friend can also help you feel more comfortable speaking for an audience.
  3. Reframe your thoughts: Instead of focusing on the potential negative outcomes of your presentation, reframe your thoughts to focus on the positive aspects. For example, remind yourself that you have valuable information to share with the audience and that they are interested in what you have to say.
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  5. Seek support: Talking to a counselor can be beneficial in learning coping strategies for managing anxiety attacks during public speaking.
  6. Use medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage severe anxiety symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the medication is right for you.
  7. Utilize positive self-talk: Practice using positive self-talk before and during your presentation. Encourage yourself, and remind yourself that you are capable of delivering an effective presentation.
  8. Get help from a professional public speaking coach: seeking support from a therapist or counselor can also be helpful in managing anxiety attacks during public speaking. Therapists can provide strategies for managing anxiety, and may also help to uncover any underlying issues or beliefs that are contributing to the anxiety.

Other Factors Affecting Anxiety Attacks:

There are a few key factors that can contribute to anxiety attacks during public speaking. First, the fear of judgment or criticism from others can be a major trigger. This fear may stem from a belief that one’s performance will be evaluated and that any mistakes will be viewed as a personal failure. Additionally, the pressure to perform well and meet expectations can also lead to anxiety and panic.

Another factor that may contribute to anxiety attacks during public speaking is a lack of preparation or confidence in one’s abilities. If a speaker does not feel adequately prepared or has doubts about their ability to deliver a successful presentation, this can lead to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.

Finally, previous negative experiences with public speaking can also contribute to anxiety attacks. If a speaker has had a particularly challenging or embarrassing experience in the past, this can create a fear of similar experiences in the future.

So, how can one overcome anxiety attacks during public speaking? There are several strategies that may be effective. One is to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, in the days leading up to the event. This can help to calm the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Another strategy is to engage in positive self-talk and visualization. By imagining a successful presentation and reminding themselves of past successes, speakers can boost their confidence and reduce anxiety.

Preparation is also key. By thoroughly practicing one’s presentation, speakers can feel more confident and in control, which can help to reduce anxiety.


In summary, anxiety attacks during public speaking can be caused by fear of judgment, pressure to perform well, lack of preparation or confidence, and negative past experiences. To overcome these attacks, practicing relaxation techniques, positive self-talk and visualization, thorough preparation, and seeking support from a therapist may be effective strategies.

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