Afraid of Public Speaking

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

im 13 and I’m always scared when i have to present. My hands get all shakey and sweaty and my heart races and i feel like passing out and crying. I tried to kill myself just to get out of presentating. I have to presentate in science class and im scared to death. I wanna miss school but my moms making me go. Whenever i have to go up infront of the class i feel like crying and running out of the room. I hate the way i feel. Taking breath doesnt help and i cant think positive when im scared. There’s always a negative holding me back and thats everything. Im scared of what people will think. I tried killing myself just to get out of this presentation but i stopped before i harmed myself. I feel as if im the only one that goes through it because everyone is brave and talks so confident. I cant take it anymore.

A: I don’t know why some teachers forget that not all children are comfortable being on center stage. Not every kid is able to his or her best work when confronted with 20 or 30 pairs of eyes on them. You are definitely not alone in your feelings.

What you are talking about is stage fright. It’s a real thing. Even great actors often have some version of it. You can learn to handle it but throwing you into the situation you most fear isn’t the best way to teach you. It certainly isn’t worth hurting yourself to get out of it. That only substitutes one hurt for another.

That’s not to say it isn’t useful to know how to talk in front of others. Part of being successful in jobs and in life often means putting your point of view out there. You can learn how to do it. You just need some lessons.

I suggest you show this letter and my response to your mom. My suggestion is that the two of you talk to your teacher together about how scared presenting makes you. Ask if there is another way for you to complete the assignment. Perhaps you could be teamed up with someone who is more self-confident in front of the class. That person can do the talking. You could hold up posters, demonstrate the experiment, or do something else to be helpful.

But meanwhile, you do need some help with the anxiety. Perhaps a few sessions with a drama teacher or coach could help you learn some techniques for managing your fears. Once your teacher understands, she or he may also be willing to provide some practical tips and some support. You don’t want to let fear get in the way of succeeding at things you want to do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 May 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Afraid of Public Speaking. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/23/afraid-of-public-speaking/