Why Nervous Energy Exists When Public Speaking?

Why Nervous Energy Exists When Public Speaking?

By: Elizabeth Peterson M.A.CCC-SLP

Excerpt from, How to Speak like a Broadcaster and Lead like a CEO



According to consumer surveys, it is a widely known fact that more people are afraid of public speaking than death. On a personal note, I have always been surprised and disappointed by that fact. It’s my goal for my clients for them to enjoy themselves when public speaking before a group!

If you have knowledge in a specialized area, then talking about it in front of others should be an exciting and a pleasurable experience. I always tell my clients that your audience wants to hear from you. You have information that they want and need. How wonderful is that?  It is my intention through this series of articles that you will look forward to public speaking in front of others.

When your body is under the stress of experiencing fear, the brain releases a hormone called adrenaline. This is done to protect you, and the hormone release is a result of the “fight, flight or freeze” response. It is a quick source of energy that assists you when you need to respond urgently during times you feel panic. Some people, who feel panic or extreme stress before speaking in front of others, will experience this surge in adrenaline. Having a surge in adrenaline before giving a presentation is not helpful. The good news is there are physical approaches you can take, as well as effective mental/cognitive exercises that will not only help you with managing stage fright, but will also help you feel good (and maybe even excited) about delivering your presentation.

The Signs and Symptoms of Fear of Public Speaking

The good news is, you can fully manage and control your nervous energy.  Yes, this is true. Before we get into the details of how to manage your nervous energy, let’s explore what is happening to your body during an episode of state fright.

Physical Symptoms of Public Speaking

*Hands and knees shake     *Voice quivers     *Heart pounds     *Short of breath


*Shallow breathing         * Feeling like you can’t breathe     *Tense muscles


*Sweaty head, neck, and/or palms     *Tripping over words      *Loss of fluency

Cognitive Factors of Public Speaking

  • Fear of making errors
  • Thoughts of not performing well
  • Worried about forgetting information
  • Unable to recall talking points
  • Fear that your mind will go blank
  • Worried about equipment, audio/visual problems, etc.
  • Concerned about time allotment
  • Concerned that you will not be able to answer an audience member’s question

Take a moment to identify the personal and physical symptoms you experience before speaking in front of others.


Identify the cognitive factors that influence your anxiety.

Unfortunately, these symptoms do not happen randomly.  It is behavioral and something individuals do who have fear of public speaking. How we respond to situations creates physical and cognitive effects. The good news is you can have a role in reversing these behaviors. A habit or behavior is something that can be changed, modified, or eliminated.  Our program will fully outline approaches and strategies to help you minimize anxiety and enjoy the experience of speaking in front of others.

Go to www.SpeechAndVoice.com for information on:

  • Private training in Denver on online
  • Two public speaking day seminars. Denver or online as a webinar
  • E-Learning public speaking class. Take the class on your own timeline
  • Online content-Sign up for our free e-book or have this articles and videos sent to your inbox. Enjoy our free videos.
  • Get the book: How to Speak like a Broadcaster and Lead like a CEO-with auditory support and online downloadable seminar option

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