Speech Time

I can honestly say that public speaking is one of my worst phobias. It's completely dreadful and the second I hear the words "presentation" or "speech" I cannot think, move or do anything the same way. I'm a wreck by the time the speeches have to be presented. I see everyone presenting and when I'm next I would get up and immediately feel panic. My voice gets shaky, I'm twitching furiously and I feel like I could die on the spot. I even have to keep my printed speech in my hand or I'll blank out. I see every ones face staring at me to do anything but the only things that come out of my mouth is a quiet chatter. By the time it's over I'm completely drained of whatever energy I had a second ago. I get the full embarrassment with everyone still staring at me and it really ruins me. I really don't know why people say I'll get over it because it is extremely stressful and has been wrecking me for many years.

...And to say this I really don't know what to do.     
LeeAnonymous LeeAnonymous
1 Response Nov 22, 2010

There with you! I developed this phobia around age 14. I've had it now more than a decade. I agree it is difficult to hear people say "it'll pass" but it helps when you consider where that advice comes from. Everyone has gotten nervous, especially before having to speak, it's normal. Used to happen to me to, I'd trip out beforehand, but once I started... I'd be fine. I was just like one of them ::sigh::So that sort of kindhearted and well-intended advice, though practical for the average person, might not be as useful for a phobic individual.All it really takes is one time to get really shook and then you seemingly stay shook. At least this was my experience, and many like me."Just Do It (you'll be fine)" is a perfectly logical approach to the minor annoyance of nervousness. Unfortunately, when the issue becomes overcoming a fear that has become tantamount to death (i.e., Phobia) the process too must change. Straightforward, "rational" approaches to phobias often fall flat because they are irrational fears. And so a more complicated "baby steps" approach is needed for a more complex issue. When I say baby steps I am mostly referring to cognitive therapy. A friend of mine, who once struggled with a severe flying phobia, went through this process. One step at a time a therapist would take her through situations that were like or pertained to her phobia, talking about flying, purchasing tickets.. and at one point even sitting in a stationary plane that was not taking off, and was asked to rate her anxiety from 1-10. One step at a time the therapist helps you face your anxieties in increments you can bear. It is severely discouraging and disheartening to continually put yourself into extreme-anxiety creating scenarios that you might rate a "10" with friend's and family's and self-help books' advice buzzing in your head- "Come on, just DO IT. COME ON!" And each time you get there having filled yourself with new hope you experience the same thing again, and again. And it never seems to get easier. No one understands you more than I do, you are not alone. It is a deep, alienating, private struggle, but I still haven't given up hope and neither should you. Things I've heard really help- 1. Cognitive Therapy 2. Psychotherapy (finding the root of the problem) *1-2 would probably go best side by side* 3. ToastMasters- apparently this is a support group for people who have fears speaking even though it is advertised as already-talented speakers there to further improve upon their speaking. 4. Propranolol is a beta blocker that has has helped many performers ease the physical side of panic during a speech or performance. I hope some of this was of use to you! I wish you luck on your journey and am here to support you.