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At some point in your life, you will be called upon to present something. Whether it’s a speech, a product pitch, or even a job interview, being able to present with confidence is a crucial life skill.
Still, you’re reading this article… which means that you are currently cringing on the inside and can feel your heartbeat in your throat at the very thought of presenting?
You may wonder if there's a way in how to not throw up when I'm presenting? Luckily, you can learn all about it here.
What Is a Fear of Public Speaking?
If you’ve always felt happy to jump up on stage and speak to a crowd, you’ve never had stage fright or any sense of fear at being made to speak out in public. But if you’re like me, you’d rather hide at the back of the hall or meeting room than stand on the stage or be noticed.
When you have a fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, you have a unique anxiety disorder that kicks in whenever you need to speak up. It can hit you when you need to speak to more than a handful or crowd of people, or it can also sneak up when you only have to speak to two or three people.
Whenever you feel anxious, start to stutter, develop a dry mouth, or feel your hands and legs tremble while speaking to others, your fear of public speaking hits again. With a fear of public speaking, you won’t be able to think clearly when placed in the proverbial spotlight, much less string together more than two words.
The main thing you probably fear is that you’ll open your mouth and end up vomiting instead of speaking. Throwing up is a nervous symptom that is often triggered by the fear of public speaking.
Next, you may experience shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and heart palpitations. Fainting is not unheard of. You may fear you’ve lost all control, and in extreme cases, you may even urinate in a primitive response to a perceived threat.
No, you’re Not Born with It
Newsflash! You’re not born with a fear of public speaking. Children may be shy, but they will usually sing or dance when praised, no matter the size of the crowd.
The internet proliferates with videos of kids doing amazing things like reciting the Declaration of Independence in front of crowds, with no fear at all.
Fear of speaking in public is something you are conditioned to. Somewhere in your life, something happened and you became conditioned to be afraid of being noticed, being seen, and being heard.
You chose to hide in anonymity instead of rising and shining. You became self-aware, and instead of seeing yourself as a being with potential and talent, you started seeing yourself as being flawed and not good enough.
I remember my first public embarrassment. Can you remember yours?
I recall that I was presenting a garment we’d made in the homeroom of my grade school. It was a large gathering of all the parents, and we each had to model our outfits on a makeshift catwalk in the school hall.
As I turned at the far end of the stage, my shoe got stuck on a raised nail, and I fell.
Nobody laughed at me, but I was utterly humiliated. As a result, I hate it when people watch me walk. This soon extended to being ashamed of speaking in public too. After all, how could I speak up when I couldn’t even walk straight?
I wasn’t born afraid. I became afraid because of something traumatic that happened to me, and I wasn’t able to fully recover from the shame and embarrassment, which became an ingrained fear of anything in public.
Perhaps you lost your confidence when you were a child? Maybe you fell, spoke funnily, sneezed and farted at the same time, or forgot your first oral presentation in English class.
Whatever happened, it wasn’t dealt with correctly, and now you fear the limelight (and being the focus of others’ attention).
Play a Game of “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”
Okay, so here’s a fun, but scary task: List everything that could possibly go wrong when you have to get up and speak or present in public. Yes, list every possible thing you can think about. These are your worst case scenarios, and you need to be specific and list them in full overly dramatic color.
So, you have to speak at your brother’s wedding. See yourself making a complete fool of yourself. Perhaps you fall, or you strike a blank, and you may also end up saying the wrong thing. Maybe you are really boring to listen to or you are so stressed, you want to throw up right there.
Write down everything that could possibly go wrong. Now, write what you can do about each of the worst case scenarios. You are planning a counterattack to put fear back in its place.
If you fear you can be seen as a fool, you may want to include a few goofy jokes to get the crowd warmed up to you.
If you fear you will fall as you walk up to the microphone, you can focus on taking small steps and wear comfortable shoes. Notes will help you remember your speech when your mind hits blank.
Practice speaking to ensure you don’t say the wrong thing. Pop some anti-nausea pills and you’re good to go.
Oh, if only it was as simple as writing down your presentation, popping a few pills and cracking a few jokes. Still, you can’t go out on the presentation stage without a few great tactics in your pocket to help you cope and actually enjoy public speaking.
7 Tactics Not to Feel Sick When Presenting
When you have no other choice, you may be forced to get up there and present your speech to a group of people you may know (who know you) or not. Being prepared is the only way to go in there with confidence.
Here are a few great tactics to help you regain your confidence and manage to not throw up while presenting.
Before the Presentation
Being prepared is a great way to minimize the risk you will not be ready, which can already do wonders to boost your confidence. Here are a few tactics to help you prepare:
1. Write Your Speech
When you know your speech by heart, you will be more correctly prepared for a public speaking engagement. If you try to simply spew out what you’re thinking of, you will have a disaster of a speaking engagement.
Writing your speech out in full will give you something to focus on, instead of worrying about what everyone in the audience is thinking. Use keyword cards or underline important issues that you need to address in the speech.
2. Turn Your Audience into Fans
Much of your fear is based on your own expectation that others are against you. This isn’t always the case. The garbage man who comes every morning is happy to listen to you talk.
So if one of your audience members is looking unappreciative or causes problems, you can picture your audience naked or try to focus on that one person who seems to be listening intently.
With a change in your perspective, you can turn anyone into a good audience member who can appreciate your speech.
Look for enemies in the audience and you will find them; look for friends in the audience and you will find those in abundance.
3. Internalize Your Truth
Let’s face it; most people are equally scared of speaking in public. You are not facing a hungry herd of jackals that are waiting to make fun of you.
Instead, you are speaking to people who are genuinely interested in your life. They want you to succeed because they can also then succeed here.
During the Presentation
When you’re up there, ready to open your mouth, you really don’t want to strike a blank. Here are some great tips for dealing with a larger room and an unforgiving audience.
4. Initiate Contact
Let’s face it, when you’re terrified of speaking in public, you won’t want to look at the people in the audience, but you should. It may surprise you to find compassion in a stranger’s face or understanding in another’s.
You can initiate contact in a few ways, such as bringing flowers, smiling, and being warm and inviting. Greet your audience, and remember to breathe while you present.
There’s no train to catch, so take your time, focus on breathing regularly, and use this to calm your heart rate down.
5. Answer Questions Carefully
Your audience may have questions for you. Be sure to give them a chance to really interact with you.
Make friends out of your audience, letting them take an interest in what you have to say.
After the Presentation
Following the presentation, you should take care of yourself. You’ve just overcome a terrifying day and event, so follow these tips to set you up for success when you need to present (and not throw up) again.
When you’ve had a moment to calm down, you may need to reflect on what you learned and how much you’ve grown as a person.
Celebrate each victory, each speech, and each presentation. You’ve earned success, and each success should remind you that you can step out there and speak in public. As your self-confidence grows, so will your belief in yourself (and the belief that you can do it).
7. Visualize a Successful Presentation
If you are preparing for your next presentation, be sure to visualize what that will look like. Don’t be overly caught up in fantasy.
Rather see yourself realistically speaking to the audience, feel the warmth of their support, and focus on the feeling of satisfaction that comes from sharing your ideas and knowledge in your presentation.
Hold onto the sensation of feeling content, and be sure to let that same feeling emerge when you are doing your next presentation. The contentment will settle over you like a warm blanket that can bolster your courage for your next presentation.
Final Thoughts on How Not to Throw Up During a Presentation
As you end your speech with a polite pause and a stealthily retreat from the stage, remember this: you're learning each time and getting better at speaking in public.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or anxious during the speech, take a moment to breathe, pause and refocus. You can speak in public and present like a pro!
You don’t have to throw up when you feel afraid. Simply, find a strategy that works for you. Whether you imagine everyone in the audience are poodles, or view the silence as a vast sea of calm washing over you, it is possible to deliver a winning presentation and actually enjoy it.
If you want to learn more about dealing with day-to-day anxiety, you can read up on living with less stress. You are not alone and this fear can soon be a distant memory.