4 steps to conquering your dread of public speaking

Stage fright, the jitters, performance anxiety—call it what you will—the fear of addressing a crowd can undermine the brilliance of your presentation. These techniques can save you.

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On the last day of my internship, I called in sick.

I had successfully navigated the technical challenge of a software engineering internship in a major corporation, but I couldn’t stomach what I had to do next.

I had fear, anxiety and loss of breath. The symptoms of my affliction were palpable. What was I so afraid of? An awful performance review? A meeting with the CEO?

Nope. I was afraid of giving a 15-minute presentation in front of 10 people.

My boss asked me to deliver a culminating speech about my time as an intern, but I couldn’t do it due to a crippling fear of public speaking. So, I called in sick.

Maybe your shyness has held you back in your career, or you’ve experienced this visceral, do-anything-to-get-out-of-it fear.

Being famous doesn’t seem to spare anyone, either. Remember Michael Bay’s awkward exit?

That story about calling in sick happened 15 years ago. This year, I was a finalist in a Toastmasters humorous speech contest. How did I go from calling in sick to looking forward to speaking in front of hundreds of people?

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