public speaking panic attack

Public Speaking Panic Attack: How to Handle It (Better Than Michael Bay)

It’s our worst nightmare as public speakers: the public speaking panic attack. Nerves take hold, panic sets in, the mind goes blank. When the moment we all dread happening actually happens, how can we recover? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

public speaking panic attack

It is one of the scariest & loneliest places to find yourself and it can happen to anyone.

But if it happens to you, then what?

Well I guess you have a choice – the ‘fight or flight’ choice.

It is entirely up to you. In the case of one much-talked-about Samsung presentation in 2014, Hollywood director Michael Bay chose flight…

But if you choose instead to stay and fight, what do you need to do?

Let’s start here.

  • Stop
  • Take a moment and take a deep breath
  • Accept that you have lost control and your train of thought
  • Admit it—firstly to yourself and then if you want, to your audience

Now, think about this question.

What’s the worst that can happen?

It’s very important that you realise as soon as you possibly can that your audience is not your enemy.

Every audience wants the presenter to do well—if the speaker is doing well, the audience does well.  If a speaker is doing badly, the audience does badly.

In Michael Bay’s case, his audience was no different and they silently willed him to recover.

We break down all possible eventualities below.

Rules for Public Speaking Panic Attack, 1: Before you even get to the auditorium

Remember to have notes or at least a cue/anchor to help you get back on track

Rules for Public Speaking Panic Attack, 2: If you’ve just began your talk

  1. Stop, breathe, admit, accept it yourself
  2. Start over
  3. Tell the audience (honesty is always appreciated)

Rules for Public Speaking Panic Attack, 3: If you’re midway through a sentence

  1. Stop, breathe, admit to yourself
  2. Repeat what you’ve just said (or just ask the audience!) and this should get you back on track.

Good luck!


About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives.

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056


Main picture by Victor Rodvang on Unsplash

ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of  corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *