top of page

Public Speaking: Most Common Problems and Solutions

Public speaking is a skill that can be both exhilarating and terrifying. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, it's natural to experience some jitters when you're about to step onto the stage. In this article, we'll explore some of the most common public speaking problems and offer practical solutions to help you overcome them.

Nervous Stomach (Butterflies)

Many people experience a nervous stomach before speaking in public, commonly known as "butterflies." The best solution for this is to practice slow, controlled breathing. Taking deep breaths can help you calm down and reduce anxiety. Additionally, it's best to avoid eating prior to speaking as this can cause digestive problems.

Vomiting, Nausea, Diarrhea

Similar to nervous stomach, eating too close to the time of speaking can cause digestive problems like vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea. To avoid these issues, make sure to avoid eating ahead of time and consult your doctor or pharmacist for over-the-counter preparations if necessary.

Jelly Legs

Shaking legs are a common problem when speaking in public. The best solution is to move around, as shaking rarely shows to the audience. Try not to worry about it and focus on your speech instead.

Trembling Hands and a Rattling Script

If you're having trouble with trembling hands or a rattling manuscript, try using 3x5 cards. Connect them by rings and flip up each one as you use it. Another option is to invest in a small notebook in which to place the cards.

Stumbling Over Words, Getting “Tongue-Twisted” or Major Bloopers

If you find yourself stumbling over words or making bloopers, the best solution is to breathe deeply and slow down your speaking. Repeat a sentence if necessary, but do not apologize. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and your audience is likely to be more forgiving than you think.

Shortness of Breath

If you find yourself short of breath while speaking, swallow, breathe and exhale. Make eye contact with a friendly face in the audience and continue with your speech.

Shaking Voice

A shaking voice can be a sign of nerves, but it's also possible to overcome. Make strong eye contact with a friendly face in the audience, swallow, and lower your pitch. Slightly increasing your volume can also help.


Blushing is a common problem for many people, but from a distance and under the lights, it usually looks like a healthy glow. Try to forget about it and continue with your speech.

Red Blotches on Neck

Red blotches on the neck can be a sign of embarrassment or nerves. To avoid this, try to avoid wearing low-necked clothing when speaking in public.

Cold Hands and Feet

Cold hands and feet are a common problem, but you can help to warm up by moving around and making hand gestures.

Hoarseness Prior to Speaking

If you experience hoarseness prior to speaking, it's best to remain silent for 24 hours before speaking. Avoid even whispering and drink lots of warm drinks to help soothe your throat. If the problem persists, try moving in close to the microphone when you begin to speak.

Going Blank

If you find yourself going blank while speaking, try to look at your notes. Consider this pause a "thoughtful silence." Your audience will understand and appreciate your efforts to stay on track.

Excessive Perspiration (Arms)

Excessive perspiration on the arms can be a problem for many people, but there are solutions. Wearing light colors will help reduce the visibility.

In conclusion, public speaking can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people, but it can be overcome with some preparation and techniques. Whether it's a nervous stomach, shaking hands, or difficulty breathing, there are solutions available to help you overcome these challenges. By taking the time to understand your individual symptoms and finding effective solutions, you can become a more confident and successful public speaker. So, if you're facing any of these problems, take heart, they can be managed, and you can achieve great things as a public speaker.

Looking for help with Public Speaking? Click the link below to contact me today.

Best Wishes

Mark Westbrook - Public Speaking Specialist - Glasgow, Scotland.


bottom of page