Challenges of virtual teams

Sex, stress and public speaking

How can you take the stress out of public speaking?

Being afraid of public speaking is common. It’s even common in the business world where presentations are a regular part of life. It’s (wrongly) assumed everyone can do it. So what can you do if you are nervous about presenting? Here are 2 great tips for calming your nerves before your next presentation and a 3rd tip which I came across while doing some research on this topic.

1. Know your content

Knowing your content is a must if you want to stay cool, calm and collected when presenting. Conversely, not knowing your content will always create anxiety and stress. You need to take the time to identify your key messages, connect these messages to your audience and build an engaging and easy to follow structure. If you know:

  • what you want to say,
  • why you are saying it,
  • how you’ll say it,
  • when you’ll say it,
  • what your audience might ask,
  • and how you’ll answer these questions…

…then you’ve reduced the chances of something going wrong – and you will have reduced your anxiety and stress levels. This sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been involved in a presentations coaching session only to discover the manager hadn’t really invested enough time in thinking about the content. Knowing your content is key!

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2. Practice your delivery – and practice it out loud

Another obvious, yet often ignored, tip is to practice your presentation aloud before you deliver it. Planning it in your head or on paper is great – but it’s not enough.  I remember learning from a German executive the idea of practising your presentation front of the mirror in the bathroom. He told me that it helped “to see if the words fit his mouth” and “to test the rhythm”. Others who have since adopted this approach have mentioned that they found themselves watching their own body language and it helped them with posture and hand gestures.  If standing in front of a mirror feels a little uncomfortable, then try:

  • recording yourself on your phone,
  • asking somebody you respect to be your audience,
  • or just closing the door and speaking aloud.

3. Have sex, lots of it

In 2006, Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of Paisley in the UK, examined the relationship between sexual behaviour patterns, blood pressure, and its reactivity to stress. Stress was provoked and evaluated through public speaking and mental arithmetic activities. Publishing his finding in the renowned New Scientist magazine, Brody found that having regular penetrative sex can help keep stress at bay. Volunteers who had had intercourse were found to be the least stressed, and their blood pressure returned to normal faster than those who had engaged in other forms of sexual activity.

In a nutshell, those having lots of sex were comparatively less stressed by public speaking than those who didn’t. In fact it might be reasonable to conclude that not only can sex help reduce your stress levels but, if you can find a willing partner, it might actually encourage you to make more presentations.

A final word of advice

Each of these 3 tips can help reduce the sense of anxiety and stress that many people feel when having to speak in public. The less nervous you are, the more confident and successful you’ll be on the day.  Just don’t do try all three at the same time.


Here are just a few posts for you to explore if you want to learn more on this topic.

4 replies
  1. Will
    Will says:

    Thanks Scott and Andy for the interesting points. I have found that recording yourself doing it is great for improving your performance. Also with presenting. :-)

    But seriously, to reduce anxiety of public speaking, I have a great tip. The audience doesn’t seem so intimidating if you imagine you are speaking to just one person. It helps to visualize this if you focus your attention for a moment on one person in the audience at a time and try to make sure you briefly make eye contact with each person at least once. Obviously, for very large audiences this is not possible, but the principle remains true.

    Good luck with your presentations / speeches!

  2. Hinrich
    Hinrich says:

    I messed up so many times and have to recognize, that again it hinges on the willing partner. Are there any volunteers out there?

  3. Andy Fluck
    Andy Fluck says:

    Good points, all three of them, the last one standing out, of course.
    The very same things are true for sales meetings. It is important to know what you are going to talk about, what the major questions may be and how to react to them. And it is vital that you have proven your words “fit your mouth”. Otherwise your tongue is likely to trip which all in all does not give a convincing impression. This is why role plays are so important in sales trainings.
    Having had satisfying sexual relationship might- this is just a guess – reduce the threat of feeling rejected if the customer should not be convinced by the end of the meeting, because of the experience that there still is somebody who had not rejected you.

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