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I had a panic attack while speaking last fall. I am currently working through it. Training and giving presentations in front of groups is part of my job so I really have no alternative but to get past it. The bottom line is this – You have to let this weird feeling pass over you instead of fighting it. When you allow the initial “wave” of this feeling to pass, it passes very quickly. I am slowly seeing success without meds.

I have thought long and hard about what is working for me and I would like to share the following:

1. Don’t beat yourself up, for whatever reason we are facing this challenge. It is ok to be where you are at this moment in time.
2. Read the book titled “In the Spotlight” by Janet Esposito (I think)
3. Join a local Toastmasters group – this is a group of people like you who want to get better at public speaking. The nice thing is that these groups are generally small in size, 5 – 10 people. It is easier to talk in front of small groups.
4. Look for and be open to speak in safe situations with only a few people. As you get through these experiences take a few more risks with a little larger groups.
5. When you do get a chance to speak, make a conscious effort to relax your shoulders right before you speak. This is huge! If your shoulders are tensed up, it’s harder to breathe. The harder it is to breathe, the more stressed we get which can lead to panic. Relaxing my shoulders as I begin to speak is probably the thing that has helped me the most.
6. High heart rate before a speech? - It’s OK if your heart rate is through the roof. Mine is always high right before a speech, it calms down within a minute or two. No one can tell!
7. Be patient, this will take time. I’m talking months here. You will feel good after every small speaking event and about the progress you make over time.
8. For me, this panic thing is an absolute war. Every speech is a battle. Some battles go better than others, but stay with it!

The hard part is putting yourself out there and taking the risk. Expect to be uncomfortable at times. It is worth it in the end! I am not yet where I want to be but I am on the road to success.

I hope this helps!
 
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