Stage Fright and Your First Speech

You’ve finished your first speech.

How are you feeling?

You didn’t die.  You might not have done as well as you liked.  You might think that you didn’t do as well as I would have liked.

Did you choke?  Did stage fright take over?

Stage fright is normal.  Your body reacts to stress in certain particular ways – stage fright is what we call those reactions you have when you have to address a crowd.

Here’s the usual list:

  • shakingstage fright
  • sweating
  • palms wet
  • nausea
  • lightheaded
  • can’t breathe
  • knees knocking
  • need to pee
  • throat closes up
  • dry mouth

If by chance I skipped one of yours, don’t worry.   Just because it’s not there, that doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Everyone has their own reaction to stage fright

You have your own unique blend of stage fright symptoms.  That’s why we have to find the stage fright symptoms that are the worst for you and work on those.

Work on those???


Many stage fright symptoms have no treatment other than experience and confidence.  But for one of them, we have some fixes.

Dry Mouth


It seems normal to drink during a presentation if your throat gets dry.  It’s normal, but that doesn’t help, because you’re treating the symptom, not the stress reaction.  The real reaction you’re facing is a kind of dehydration.  Waiting until you’re in a panic on stage to take a drink is waiting too long.  You need to drink something about an hour before your speech so your body has plenty of fluids to start with.  There’s a delicate balance between just enough and too much.  You’ll figure it out personally, but if you’ve got a make a mad dash to the bathroom just before your presentation, then that was probably too much water.  About a liter bottle of water finished about an hour before the speech, works for me.  We’re going to find out what works for you.

The Green Apple Solution

This has probably been around since before the time of Shakespeare.  Eat a green apple before you go onstage.  Why green?  Because they’re the tartest apple out there.  You don’t want sweet.  You want something bordering on sour.

Eating the apple’s will stimulate several parts of your mouth and nose in positive ways.

  1.  The act of chewing makes stretches your face and tongue, getting you ready to speak clearly.
  2. The smell of the apple makes your nose and sinuses start to work. Getting the mucous out of your nose will eliminate some of the coughing or annoying sinus drainage during your speech.
  3. The apple’s tartness activates your salivary glands.  It’s almost impossible to have a dry mouth after eating a green apple.


The best cure for stage fright is practice and present.  When you know your material and how you want to present it, you’ll have less stage fright.  But it doesn’t always solve the problem.  People have gotten stage fright years after they’ve been performing on the stage in front of thousands of people.  Barbra Streisand was an award-winning Broadway actress who developed stage fright years after she’d become a professional actress and singer.  Others have come down with stage fright years later.

I know that I’ve had stage fright when I had to deliver bad news in a speech.  I’d have stage fright when I had to get up and speak in front of five people.  There’s no explanation.  It comes and goes.  What I know now is how to deal with it, instead of letting it stop me from speaking.

Extra credit

Tell me about how you felt after you were done speaking today.  (Fifty words minimum.)



  1. It was okay. Nervous, of course. Whenever I’m done speaking, and I sit back down, I don’t want people talking about it. Yesterday was no different; if I do badly I want someone to tell me but also if I do well. I felt ready to try and again and correct my mistakes, especially now that I’ve done it before, I’m more comfortable.

  2. That’s the point of bushwacking you with that first speech before you have time to prepare. You and I learn together what your stage fright issues are and how we can help you improve your speaking. You did a good job yesterday!

  3. Well, I felt very shaky and excited. Every time I tried to write what I felt like it came out in scribbles. I have done many things in front of a lot of people and each time I feel a little bit different. Usually it is a shaky feeling and I feel like I am about to explode and run around. I hope I do better next time.

    • You did fine, Cassia! I’m sure it was very scary (that’s my evil plan, BWAHAHAHAHA!) but you’re off to a good start by knowing what you’ll be facing when you give your next speech.

  4. When I was done with my speech I felt alot better and more calm because I knew it was over and that I could relax. I also felt a bit more confident in myself because I went ahead and did something I would normally never do. I know my speech was far from perfect or even good but I know your not expecting me to be perfect (at least not yet) but as I sat down and thought to myself I realized that you gave me the opportunity to show you and even myself that I’m truly capable of doing anything, I just have to put my mind to it. Thank you for making me do that!

    • My pleasure, Savannah! You have a great deal of potential as a speaker. The only way we’ll know how far you get in speech is by looking at where you’re starting. Iit’s exciting to see how far you’ll go in the class.

  5. I felt like I didn’t do a very good job and that I could have done better. I started out feeling confident, and towards the end realized I really did not have very much to talk about. After I sat back down, I I was getting more ideas of what I could have done for my topic and wishing I had thought of them before hand.

    • That happens all the time in speeches. There’s the speech you prepare, the speech you gave, and the speech you wish you’d given!

  6. Thank you Mrs. Krajci.

  7. Never have i thought one minute could feel so long, after standing in front of the class and talking about procrastination i felt so embarrassed! I looked at my feet the whole time and constantly repeated myself. After the sixty seconds were up my hands were shaking and my face was beat red, i felt hot and it seemed like everyone was looking at me. Though I’m very thankful things didn’t go worse and i know they could have.

  8. I have never tanked a speech the way I did in that minute. I felt disappointed and extremely embarrassed. I went first. The problem about being the first is that you have no idea what to expect, whereas the other students can anticipate what will happen. I picked procrastination because I have watched a TEDTalk about the mind of a procrastinator. When I delivered my speech, I fumbled, repeated, and stopped. I stammered when I realized how stupid I sounded. That may seem harsh on myself, but I seriously sounded insane. For pete sake, I was relating a monkey to procrastination! I have always prepared thoroughly for any presentation that I give. It was traumatizing, yet humbling. It was a reality check that I needed. Thank you for terrifying me, Mrs. Krajci. 🙂

    • Always working hard to be prepared for a speech is a good thing – but so is being able to answer an unexpected question. That’s one of the reasons we will work on impromptu speaking regularly in the class! Just don’t expect any warning…

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