Flying Solo Banner

Sunday, 11 September 2016 00:38

How do I stop shaking when speaking in public?

Written by


Impromptu Speaking before and after. Which describes you?In the immortal words of Jerry Lee Lewis “whole lotta shakin goin on!”.

The ‘shakes’ are merely a physical manifestation of our nervous energy. It ties into the flight/fight reaction. Our body releases adrenaline so that we are prepared to either run away from the stressor or to stay and fight it. In the case of speaking publicly, we are likely staying to fight. By choice! Well, perhaps in most cases.

Not everyone experiences shakes. Equally annoying can be nausea, dizziness, hyperventilation, headache and numerous other somatic complaints. While they are all annoying and perhaps very scary at the time, they serve a purpose. They are designed to keep us safe and out of trouble.

The challenge is in working past these somatic symptoms. In Toastmasters, we often talk about the ‘butterflies.’ These butterflies are the aches and pains we feel in our stomachs at times like when we have to speak in public. It has probably become a cliché, but it still holds true … the secret is to get those butterflies to fly in formation.

Anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It serves a purpose. When we have it under control, it can give us the energy to deliver a dynamic presentation.

Getting it under control, now there is the challenge.

I started using the technique of imagery in my early years of public speaking and continue to use it to this day. Here are a couple examples. I found that I was very nervous when being introduced as the speaker and having to move from my seat to the speaking area. My heart would be pounding and I would feel the belly butterflies doing the tango.

My solution was to use imagery. As I am waiting to be introduced, I’m processing several things simultaneously in my mind. I see myself going to the front of the room and everybody cheering and applauding me. Whether it ever happens to the degree that I envision it doesn’t matter. At the same time, I am rehearsing my opening line and preparing for the energy that I need to grab the audience’s attention from the opening. I also picture a spotlight on me, with everybody focusing on me. A superstar if you will.

Your mind tends to believe what you think. If you see yourself being successful, your mind will tell the rest of your body to get with the program.

Using imagery in another example, is to prevent the anxiety that I experience when I first stand in front of the audience. I help to minimize this anxiety-producing situation by checking out the speaking area in advance. If it is possible, I will go to the speaking area, doesn’t matter if the room is empty or not and gaze around the room. I look at where my audience will be sitting, looking from left to right and to the front of the room and to the back. I look to see if there will be any problems with sight lines. Will everybody be able to see me and will I be able to see them?

I also quickly practice my opening lines while there, in my mind. I further use imagery to see myself being successful and the audience hanging on every word I say. If you are going to imagine, might as well make it a good image.

Another technique often recommended to reduce the jitters is to “feel the pain” and do it anyways. Overcoming fear is the same as developing any new skill. It takes practice and lots of it.

Shaking is a physical manifestation of fear. As we become more confident, these symptoms no longer serve a purpose and will eventually disappear. I would suggest acknowledging that your shakes are only temporary and it is within you to work past it. Oddly enough the secret to resolving fear is to do more of what creates the fear in the first place i.e. speaking public. Speak often, speak whenever and to whoever you can.

Thanks for your question and good luck with moving past a whole lotta shakin goin on!

As originally published on

Pin it
Rae Stonehouse

Author Bio:

Rae A. Stonehouse is a Canadian born author & speaker. His professional career as a Registered Nurse working predominantly in psychiatry/mental health, has spanned four decades.

Rae has embraced the principal of CANEI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement) as promoted by thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and brings that philosophy to each of his publications and presentations.

Rae has dedicated the latter segment of his journey through life to overcoming his personal inhibitions. As a 20+ year member of Toastmasters International he has systematically built his self-confidence and communicating ability. He is passionate about sharing his lessons with his readers and listeners. His publications thus far are of the self-help, self-improvement genre and systematically offer valuable sage advice on a specific topic. He is a long-time member of Kelowna Flying Solo Toastmasters and is the driving force behind its long-term success. 

His writing style can be described as being conversational. As an author Rae strives to have a one-to-one conversation with each of his readers, very much like having your own personal self-development coach. Rae is known for having a wry sense of humour that features in his publications.

Author of Self-Help Downloadable E-Books:

Power Networking for Shy PeoplePower Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly!

PROtect Yourself!PROtect Yourself! Empowering Tips & Techniques for Personal Safety: A Practical Violence Prevention Manual for Healthcare Workers.

E=Emcee SquaredE=Emcee SquaredTips & Techniques to Becoming a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies.

Power of PromotionPower of Promotion: On-line Marketing for Toastmasters Club Growth


Phone Rae 250-451-6564 or

Rae’s social … are you?


Linkedin? Rae is

Copyright 2015 & 2016 Rae Stonehouse. The above document may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author’s name and contact info remain attached.

To learn more about Rae A. Stonehouse, visit the Wonderful World of Rae Stonehouse at http://raestonehouse.com

From our friends & sponsors.
Click on an ad for more details.