Wednesday Challenge: Presentation Anxiety


On Wednesdays, I am starting a brand new audience-centered series called the Wednesday Challenge.  I’ll give you a prompt, and you leave your response in the “Comments” section.  The prompt might be a question, as it is today, or it might be an activity.  I’ll share the best comment along with a new prompt the following Wednesday.


Tell me about the time you experienced the worst presentation anxiety in your life.

Can’t wait to hear your stories!


5 thoughts on “Wednesday Challenge: Presentation Anxiety

  1. Speech class during freshman year of high school. I did not know when I signed up that it was usually a senior-level class and found myself in a class full of senior football stars and cheerleaders. Worse, the teacher sat in the back of the room barricaded behind filing cabinets barking lectures at us and the first time you saw his face was during your first speech. I’ve been a speech teacher for 20 years and the words “Motivated Sequence” still give me a cold chill because of him shouting them at the back of our heads. My first speech was a gray blur, but it made me determined to keep taking speech classes until they were second nature.

  2. Gary Bisaga

    Probably the main thing that gives me anxiety is thinking on my feet – unprepared talks. In my Bible institute classes, the instructor would give us some biblical or social topic and we’d have to speak for several minutes with no preparation. One good thing about Toastmasters is I’ll have lots of chance to practice that. :)

  3. In April 2010, a direct report left her position weeks before our large annual conference. The panel discussion she was supposed to moderate during a general session (with 2,000 attendees present) suddenly fell into my lap.

    I’m confident with a lesson plan in hand. I can even present on topics I know well off-the-cuff. But moderating a panel discussion and asking follow-up questions and sustaining an unscripted conversation was not in my wheel house. Quasi-prepared, the day before the panel discussion I worked with another colleague and the A/V people to develop a work around and calm my anxieties: we set up a monitor on the corner of the stage, hidden by some on-stage plants and greenery. A colleague sat in the back of the ballroom (with the A/V people) and fed me questions and follow-up questions (by way of the on-stage monitor).

    We took advantage of the technology to also invite the audience to email questions *during* the panel discussion. The emergency plan to “cheat” on moderating the panel discussion turned into a win/win: I had help from a stealthy colleague keeping the conversation alive AND the audience didn’t have to sit passively listening to a 60-minute panel conversation – they could ask their own questions via email!

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