"It's not giving the speech that terrifies me," said a colleague recently. "It's all that anxiety beforehand… those moments, days or weeks before, when I'm planning and preparing… that make me feel sick to my stomach!"
He's not the first or only speaker who suffers from knock-out nerves before giving a speech. Pre-speech anxiety comes in many forms: procrastination, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, irritability, queasiness… there are many more symptoms. They might be due to other causes, but they're very well known to many speakers, from the tentative beginner to the seasoned pro. Why does getting up in front of a bunch of strangers make us feel so scared? And what can we do to prevent it?