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Public Speaking: The Secret Fear All Public Speakers in Manchester Have

It’s a scene all too many Mancunians can relate to. You step up to give a speech at work, your mate’s wedding, or event at Uni. As you face the eager audience, your hands turn clammy. Your heart pounds. A wave of panic washes over you as doubts race through your mind:


“What if I mess up?”

“They’ll think I’m an idiot if I can’t get the words out.”

“I’m going to completely blank and ruin this.”


Do you have a fear of public speaking
Public Speaking Anxiety

Welcome to the world of public speaking anxiety - a feeling familiar to most people from our fine city. Surveys show up to 75% of people experience some form of fear when presenting or speaking to a crowd.


From shaky hands to jelly legs, those symptoms can feel crippling. But after botching a massive talk years ago, I realised my speech anxiety was normal, and there were ways to overcome it. I asked fellow terrified Mancunian speakers for their tips on keeping calm and delivering when it counts.


In this post, we’ll share how ordinary Manchester folk can manage anxiety and smash public talks. You’ll learn preparation methods, mindset adjustments, and recovery skills. By the end, you’ll have our best insider tips for calming those speech nerves.


Public Speaking Phobias in Manchester

First, let's explore why public speaking freaks so many of us out. Scientists reckon it comes from our early hunter-gather days, when standing up before the tribe carried risk. These days, the “threats” are more social than physical. Common fears include:

  • Heart racing, palms sweating, shaking - good old fight-or-flight response

  • Going blank or jumbling words from anxiety

  • Worrying about looking foolish in front of others

  • Fearing people will judge you as stupid or ignorant

  • Feeling you MUST deliver a perfect speech or else

But here’s the good news. Those anxieties are entirely normal! Speaking in public is tough for most people. Audiences don’t expect you to be the next Churchill - they just want you to help them learn or understand something. A few nerves show you care.


My Personal Story of Anxiety

I still cringe thinking back to a talk I gave to 100 uni students a few years ago. I was massively underprepared, convinced I'd never manage to fill 45 minutes!


Of course, as I fumbled my way through the first slides my mind went blank with dread. I ended up finishing 20 minutes early, mumbling excuses while avoiding eye contact. I slunk off the stage feeling I'd failed myself and the audience.


For awhile afterwards, that embarrassment kept me avoiding public speaking. But I realised avoiding presentations would limit my career options and social life. With practice, I knew I could overcome my fears.


The audience that day likely wasn't judging me as harshly as I judged myself. Now I focus on preparing thoroughly, so I never let myself down again. And if nerves strike, I have tricks to stay cool and deliver.


Preparing is Half the Battle

The number one rule from experts (and anxious speakers) is thorough preparation. Knowing your material inside-out breeds confidence:

  • Practice your speech or presentation several times out loud. Get feedback from a friend.

  • Time yourself rehearsing so you nail the length. Leave buffer time for any Q&A.

  • Memorise or have notes with your opening and closing lines. Start and finish strong!

  • Internalize key points rather than reading word-for-word off slides.

  • Walk through the speech venue beforehand to familiarise yourself.

  • Visualize smoothly delivering your talk - imagine looking confident and the audience responding positively.

With meticulous planning, you canrelax knowing you're ready to share your knowledge. Even if nerves creep up, you've put in the work.


Adjusting Your Mindset

A lot of anxiety comes from distorted negative thoughts. Common mental gremlins speakers report:

  • “They’ll think I’m an idiot if I mess up.”

  • “I don’t know this topic well enough to present on it.”

  • “People will judge me if I’m not perfectly polished.”

Challenge these unhelpful assumptions. Audiences don’t gather hoping the speaker fails - they want you to enlighten them! Some mindset adjustments that help:

  • Focus on sharing ideas rather than judgement. View it as a conversation.

  • Remember everyone gets nervous. It’s a normal human response, not a character flaw.

  • People are far less critical than our worst imaginings.

  • laughter - people relate when speeches don't always go smoothly!

Right before going on, visualise yourself calmly commanding the room, not harshly judging your every word. And during the talk, focus on communicating with the audience rather than your own anxious thoughts.


Managing Physical Reactions

Let's offer some proven ways to tackle those inevitable physical anxiety responses:

  • Slow deep breathing - inhale calm, exhale tension.

  • Light stretching - shake out tense muscles before going on.

  • Channel nervous energy into your passion for the topic.

  • Speak slower than normal - it's fine to pause and gather thoughts.

  • Take sips of water to combat dry mouth.

If using notes, hold them discretely at chest level rather than death-gripping the podium. Keep posture open and grounded rather than hunched. The physical tricks help minimize mental stress.


What To Do If It Goes Wrong

Despite best efforts, the odd mistake or mind blank is inevitable. Don't let it derail you! Here are some saver tips:

  • If you go blank, take a breath and ask to revisit your last point to get back on track.

  • Openly admit when you've lost your place but will continue.

  • Make light of mistakes with humor - audiences relate and it shows confidence.

  • Don't obsess over small slip-ups - focus on delivering value for those listening.

  • Have water or notes readily accessible in case nerves kick in.

Remember, the audience wants to see you succeed, not fail. They won't judge one awkward pause or fumbled remark too harshly. Keep perspective and remain gracious.


While public speaking anxiety may always exist to some degree, the above strategies can help you manage it effectively as a speaker. Here are our top takeaways:

  • Thoroughly prepare and practice your content.

  • Reframe anxious thoughts into more positive assumptions.

  • Use breathing, stretching and other techniques to calm nerves.

  • Recover smoothly from mistakes by staying cool and moving forward.

  • Focus on sharing your message rather than perfection - audiences appreciate the effort!

With time and experience, that fear does lessen. But being a great public speaker is about managing anxiety, not eliminating it.


To all fellow nervous talkers out there - you've got this! What tips do you have for keeping calm before a big speech?

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