Speak Up! Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking is a part of life

Think back to a time when you were asked to speak in front of a large audience. For some of us, that might have been recently – doing a presentation for work, speaking in a meeting or even at a personal event, such as a wedding! Does that experience bring back negative emotions? Most of us associate public speaking as a negative experience, and possibly one that we would like to avoid as much as possible. However, at times public speaking is unavoidable. Whether you are a student in school giving your class presentation, or an adult speaking at your best friend’s wedding, you don’t have to feel anxious about it. Let a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) help.

How does an S-LP help with public speaking?

An S-LP can work with you to address your concerns in numerous ways. S-LPs can provide strategies that can help you speak in a relaxed and confident manner. In addition to providing professional advice on your presentation skills, we can evaluate your social and communication skills which help in creating client-specific goals. There are six main areas commonly worked on with clients wanting to improve their public speaking (Breakey, 2005):

  1. breathing

  2. pausing

  3. inflection/expression

  4. eye contact

  5. gestures

  6. organization and structure

Other areas affecting the public speaking skills can include fluency, accent and voice concerns, and other non-verbal communication (body language, facial expressions, hand gestures, and postures). These non-verbal communication cues can help convey confidence and make a difference in our public speaking abilities. Furthermore, engaging and understanding the audience’s emotions and facial expressions can help guide your presentation, and lighten the overall experience.
Breakey, L.K. (2005) Fear of public speaking—the role of the SLP. Seminars in Speech and Language 26, 107–117. 


Neetika Dhaddha is a Speech-Language Pathologist who enjoys working with variety of communication disorders and clients of all ages. She has a special interest in acquired brain injury, language and literacy development. She uses a functional and client-centered approach to therapy to help clients achieve their goals.