Public speaking anxiety; tips for success

Most of us experience some degree of anxiety when it comes to speaking in public. The heart beats faster, the palms sweat and we find that we are talking an awful lot faster than we normally would!

Fear of public speaking is something I see A LOT as a hypnotherapist. The good news is it really isn’t that hard to overcome. Especially when you know how.

Here are a few tips that my clients say have helped them the most:


We have nerves for a reason. In moderation, they can actually enhance our performance. Some of the world’s best orators admit to feeling some degree of nervousness when they speak. A key trick I teach clients is to watch and observe their nerves. Don’t judge, don’t wish they weren’t there, just notice them and then get on with whatever it is you are doing.

If I tell you that right now I don’t want you to think of a pink penguin, what is the first image that comes into your head!?

I think I guessed right? You thought about a pink penguin, yes?

That’s because when you try NOT to notice something you notice it even more. It’s just the way the brain works.

So if you try not to be nervous or try to ignore nerves the reality is you notice those nerves more and they get in the way.

Image courtesy of  Adam Ciesielski

Image courtesy of Adam Ciesielski




If at all possible go for a short walk before you start talking. Research shows that exercise before public speaking helps you to release energy and dispel anxious feelings.


Now this sounds strange but bear with me! Research shows that if you switch to using your peripheral vision when public speaking, you can reduce your nerves significantly.

It is actually quite simple. When we are nervous our field of vision narrows. We tend to focus only on what is immediately in front of us. By starting to become aware of what’s in our peripheral vision the brain perceives the situation as less threatening and all the unpleasant symptoms decrease.

You can try it now. Just start to become aware of objects in your peripheral vision. How far to the side can you see without shifting your focus?


Now this doesn’t sound like it would do much but it is by far the most effective strategy for a great performance.

Before you speak simply see yourself doing it well. When I mean see yourself I really mean see yourself. Use all your senses when imagining your success:

  • Visualise yourself there and really see your surroundings
  • Visualise your audience and see them really enjoying your speech
  • Hear yourself sounding confident 
  • Notice how good it feels when you visualise yourself speaking well
  • Hear the audience clapping with enthusiasm