Get the Confidence to Speak in Front of a Class

Your thoughts are racing and your palms are dripping with sweat. Speaking is proving impossible because you're that nervous. A minute ticks by, and the teacher clears his throat. The girls in back begin to giggle. Oh no...You feel it coming, you're about to -

But wait! Although you may feel like running hysterically out of the room, throwing up, or wetting yourself, you can learn to speak in front of your classmates with confidence. Although speaking in front of a group of your peers is admittedly difficult, but it is not impossible. Preparation, practice, and presentation - or The Three P's - will help you achieve your goal of staying calm, cool, and collected during your speech.


  1. Figure out why you are nervous. Are you afraid to get a bad grade? Do you think you may embarrass yourself in front of the cute guy in the first row? Once you identify these thoughts, begin to find reasons why they won't be true. For example, when you think, "I am going to make a fool out of myself in front of Brendan.", think something more positive such as, "I am going to be so prepared, I will sound really smart and Brendan will be really impressed." Obviously, your thoughts and examples should be specific to you.
  2. Be prepared. It is easy to feel nervous when you only began thinking about your subject or speech notes the night before the big day! Begin preparing yourself as soon as you find out you will be speaking before the class. It may seem like a pain at the time, but the effort you make will be well worth it once you get in front of the class (and when you see your grade). Now, this doesn't mean you must have your speech memorized three weeks before the due date. It simply means that you should follow a logical time line and know what you're talking about.
  3. Talk to someone. Talk to a respectful friend or an adult you can trust. This person shouldn't be the type that will increase your speaking fears. Ask them how they handle big presentations and what they would do in your situation. Maybe they will offer to be your practice audience!
  4. Practice, practice, practice. Practicing is not the same as rehearsing. When you practice, you are making mistakes and finishing up your final product. Rehearsing is presenting your performance just as it will be for you real audience. Practice your speech in front of a mirror with your notes in hand. Add to them when necessary, and cross out unneeded information. Streamline your notes so you won't fumble through them if you forget your place during your presentation.
  5. Rehearse. Remember that friend or adult from the third step? Ask this person if they will listen to your speech and give you constructive criticisms. Build from their advice, and do at least one more presentation, this time for at least four people. That way, you are experiencing the feeling of having more eyes trained on you, and you can get a feeling for handling crowds.
  6. Stay calm - before and on the big day. It may be helpful for you to look into a few breathing exercises or different ways to reduce stress. Keep calm beforehand so you don't scare yourself too much before you even get to class.
  7. Do your best and have fun with it. Don't mumble too much or read mindlessly off of your notes. You've worked hard to make sure that this speech goes well, so show it! Your classmates will appreciate watching someone who has a bit of fun with the material instead of listening to Johnny Nobody drone on endlessly from his notes.
  8. Do not dwell on your mistakes. Congratulate yourself for having the courage to get up in front of your peers, and don't be over critical of yourself. You will always be harder on yourself than anyone else will. Very few people will actually care if you made a mistake, and many probably didn't even notice. Do, however, ask yourself what you could do better for next time. Focus on the present and future, not the past.


  • When you are presenting, be sure to keep your head up high and to have confidence. Look at everyone including the students and the teacher and breathe in and out. Stay calm and breathe deeply. Talk to them as if you were talking to your friends.
  • Eye contact is important for a good speech or presentation. If you have trouble making eye contact with your audience, try looking at the wall or landscape just above their heads.
  • Try not to practice last minute; it rarely has good results.
  • Try to have an inspiration.
  • Practice more and remember to have a nice smile on your face. Make eye contact and practice.


  • Do not make fun of anyone else's presentations. Everyone else is just as nervous as you are. If you are a supportive audience member, chances are that you will have supportive audience members.
  • If you see people talking don't assume its about you, because then you'll get scared and freeze up.
  • Do not try to be someone you're not. This is not the time to try to be funny if you are not or try to impress the class with your superior knowledge of Civil War artillery if you don't have that knowledge. Just be yourself-- it will be much less nerve-wracking.
  • Try to imagine you're the only one there.
  • Sometimes it helps when you imagine people in their underwear.

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