I have a hard time giving presentations at work, and my job requires that I do them a lot. Days before I even have to give the presentations, I can’t sleep and constantly worry about it. Many times I don’t even have an appetite, because I’m overwhelmed with anxiety. Even when there are just a few people in the meeting, I feel almost like I’m paralyzed with fear. I get sweaty and my face is flushed. I’m a basket case. I like my job, but the anxiety from these presentations is making my life difficult.
Being a bit nervous before speaking in front of others is very natural and common. In fact, it can serve as a check point to keep you current and constantly challenging your content. Being overly prepared can help you in feeling more confident. If is the fear of being asked a question that you don’t know or being challenged by others that has you most anxious, become comfortable stating “that’s a great question, I don’t have the answer, but will definitely get back with you”. Nobody can prepare for every answer, and it is ok and not frowned upon to let others know that you would like to double check facts before providing an answer that may not be completely accurate.
First, you should know that many people get anxiety from speaking in front of large crowds. Public speaking just isn’t easy. And what do you do when something isn’t easy? You practice. When I was in college, I had to take a public speaking class and I too suffered from harrowing stress and anxiety about presenting in front of crowds of people. I started practicing in front of my friends and I also reminded myself that everyone in the class could empathize with how I was feeling. Most people don’t enjoy giving presentations. So the people you’re speaking to know how you feel.