Speaking engagements for me are far and few between. However, that doesn't stop me from dreading them and letting that feeling consume my entire mentality a week leading up to the event. I use to believe there was no cure for my "phobia".. however, after a few hours of research and visit to the walk in clinic, I found a life changing solution.
And I'm about to share that solution with you.
Public speaking anxiety affects millions of people, so if this describes you, then you obviously aren't alone. For many, being in front of large crowds or even a small group of people can cause major social anxiety; inhibiting their ability to do their jobs, participate in social events and even be part of family gatherings. Although there are different types of anxiety medicine for those who really need it to function in their daily lives, I was after something I only needed to take once... to help with my public speaking issues.. the physical issues, without making me reliant on a product or require any excess consumption that I haven't needed otherwise.
Tremors, excessive sweating, rushing heartbeat, dizziness, loss of thought ... Sound familiar? You can write the best public talk that ever existed but its only as good as its presentation.. people have to want to listen, and if you are shaking and forgetting what your saying then nobody is going to hear a thing.
One day.. right before one big talk at the state capitol, I decided I couldn't take failing at it any longer and thus went and visited our local walk in clinic. After sitting down with the practitioner for no more then ten minutes, she gladly had me set up with two different anti-anxiety medications, including a nifty little pill that will be my new go to - its called propranolol.
No I'm not addicted... Nor do I take this medication for anxiety everyday..
I've actually only used it twice in a span of about a month.
The best part of it? I only need to take it 30 minutes before I speak.. until I gain my own confidence.. which is the best medicine of all.
Propranolol is considered a "beta-blocker" and is used to block the affects of adrenaline which initiates the "flight-or-fight" reactions. This reaction is what causes the racing heart and subsequent side effects and is essentially our "life saving reactions". However, its more of a nuisance then a benefit in our twenty first century lifestyle. It's what scientists use to claim as our "life saving reaction if we were to be.. eaten?"
Although this pill does a lot to subside your physical issues, it does not affect your nervousness before your speech, but it does keep your physical symptoms completely at bay by keeping controlling blood flow through your veins. This keeps blood pressure and heart rate controlled.. inhibiting the associated side effects mentioned above. Many, many people have utilized this drug to help with their public speaking issues... especially people who either take a new job or receive a promotion that requires a high level of public engagements. A quick google search will adhere a long list of reviews and experiences on the drug.. so I highly recommend doing this if you want to hear more first person experiences. A high majority of these people have had tremendous success with this medication without any sort of dependence or physical symptoms and essentially have been able to become "medication free" after they practice.
My experience with propranolol? Incredibly beneficial.
I took a test pill the day before and I really can't say that I noticed any affects. Of course I was under no stress nor was I anywhere near any anxiety inducing situations. Therefore, I felt safe trying it the next day (the day of the big speech). I highly recommend you trial any drug before you use it in a public situation (you don't want to end up puking in front of these people right?).
Once I was on stage and began speaking... my nerves started subsiding and I went through the talk in an incredibly smooth fashion without a single stutter (however, I may have spoke a bit too fast). In fact, by the end of the talk I almost felt as though I didn't want it to end. Although I still had some nervousness... my thoughts were clear and my words were being expressed effortlessly. This is never been the experience previously.
So what is the best solution for overcoming public speaking anxiety? Practicing. Propranolol is a great way to overcome the initial fear.. and help you improve performance.. but it isn't exactly a "fix all". Its just a great tool to help aid you in your public speaking journey and help you gain confidence. As I mentioned previously, it is non-addictive so treat it as such and only use it when you know it will make a significant difference.
Of course, you can't receive this medicine without a prescription. Therefore, explain your situation to your healthcare provider and let them assess what may be the best for this situation.
With insurance, the cost of propranolol was less then $5.00, so it was not only beneficial but extremely affordable. It was a great investment in my career and performance and I highly recommend it to anyone who experiences similar speaking anxieties.
Do you have fear public speaking? What have your solutions been?