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Ted Talks About Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety can be daunting, but the journey to overcome it is filled with valuable insights and inspiration.

In my last blog post, I talked about the transformative power of public speaking assessments in gauging your progress in developing public speaking skills. Speech anxiety is a very common fear, and any tools that help move you forward, and allow you to reclaim your power, are important.

In this blog post, I invite you to explore a curated selection of my favorite TED Talks that offer wisdom, motivation, and practical tips to conquer public speaking anxiety. A well-crafted Ted Talk can not only be an inspiring piece of advice, but a wonderful resource that puts every technique for conquering public speaking anxiety we've talked about into practice. Not only can we gather more expert tips, we see the techniques in action!

These talks, delivered by accomplished TED speakers and experts, will empower you to embrace your fears, find your voice, and captivate audiences with confidence. So, let's dive into this treasure trove of transformative talks and unlock the keys to mastering public speaking anxiety.

"Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are" by Amy Cuddy

In this influential talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy explores the profound impact of body language on our confidence and performance. She draws on the science of social signaling, or how human beings pick up on small details in communication and appearance that aid in drawing conclusions about who we are interacting with.

She shares compelling insights on power posing, demonstrating how simple adjustments to our body language can influence our hormonal levels and boost our self-assurance. By adopting expansive postures and embracing a powerful physical presence, we can overcome public speaking anxiety and project confidence to the world.

I love this talk because it represents a principle I consistently talk about with clients, and even here on this very website -- nervous speakers do not need massive, extreme changes in their speaking techniques or their presentation to communicate confidence and presence in a room. Small, reasonable changes to things as natural to us as our body language can produce powerful presentations. When we reclaim that connection to our bodies, we reclaim the power to focus, stay present, and connect with our audiences authentically.

"The Power of Vulnerability" by Brené Brown

Renowned researcher Brené Brown delves into the power of vulnerability and the importance of embracing our imperfections. In her talk, she shares personal anecdotes and research findings, highlighting how vulnerability can foster connection, authenticity, and impactful storytelling.

Speakers have the daunting task of remaining engaging while also commanding attention in a position that forces us to be vulnerable. We cannot run from the fact that public speaking and giving a presentation puts us in one of the most vulnerable positions we could experience in our lifetime. Rather than manufacturing excitement and charm, a powerful presentation is rooted in authenticity.

Audiences embrace speakers that communicate truth and their authentic selves, and it's second nature for audiences to pick up on superficiality. Speaking to an audience in the same way we would talk to our friends is a great way to calm those nervous thoughts, and keep fear in check.

By embracing vulnerability in our public speaking endeavors, we can forge genuine connections with our audience and cultivate a sense of shared humanity. A good speaker is entertaining, but a great speaker is genuine.

"How to Speak So That People Want to Listen" by Julian Treasure

In this captivating talk, sound expert Julian Treasure unravels the secrets of powerful and persuasive speaking. He provides valuable insights into the art of effective communication, emphasizing the significance of voice modulation, clarity, and storytelling.

Our voices are not only the mechanism by which we communicate ideas, but also our most important tool for forging connection. Effective communication is clear, and allows for emotion and authenticity to shine. People naturally gravitate towards stories, almost automatically. This talk highlights a great method for sharing ideas in the form of narrative, which takes advantage of that natural inclination to hear a beginning, middle, and end while remaining captivating and clear on stage.

By honing our speaking skills and employing techniques such as the HAIL framework (Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, Love), we can captivate audiences and overcome public speaking anxiety.

"Talk Nerdy to Me" by Melissa Marshall

Science communication expert Melissa Marshall inspires us to embrace the power of clear and engaging presentations. In her talk, she encourages scientists and technical professionals to effectively communicate their ideas to non-expert audiences.

This talk is wonderful for anyone who works in a highly technical field such as science, engineering, computation, or mathematics. Chances are, your training emphasized communicating ideas to fellow peers and a few friendly faces from your industry, who probably already have their own expertise in your work.

But just as important as giving technical talks is being able to translate those ideas to a wide variety of non-expert audiences. As our world becomes more connected, technical professionals are being asked to deliver talks to audiences from different walks of life. Melissa Marshall's ideas are especially helpful in this regard, as a common fear among technical professionals seeking non-industry careers is being able to translate their work for a different audience.

By breaking down complex concepts, using relatable analogies, and highlighting the practical implications, we can conquer public speaking anxiety and make technical talks accessible and impactful.

"The Clues to a Great Story" by Andrew Stanton

Pixar filmmaker Andrew Stanton takes us on a journey through the art of storytelling. Drawing from his experience in creating beloved animated movies, he shares valuable insights into crafting compelling narratives.

You may be thinking that talks and stories have very little in common, but Andrew suggests that the art of storytelling is critical for speakers, nervous speakers or otherwise, to keep in their set of tools when giving a presentation. And I have to agree.

I like to think that one of the biggest roadblocks new speakers face is designing talks that go against their natural way of talking about the world. We get so fixated on communicating A,B,C ideas in a clinical, almost mechanical way, that we lose the humanity behind it. It turns a talk into a lecture, and we find ourselves on a stage simply talking at the audience. But audiences crave being talked with, not lectured to.

When we tell stories, and allow our instinctual love of narrative to shape the talk, we turn the stage into a playground for our words and ideas to resonate. We remove the rigidity, and immediately become magnetic. We invite the audience in our world, and the stage is the window by which they can glimpse our passion for the subject we are speaking about.

By incorporating the principles of story structure, relatable characters, and emotional resonance into our presentations, we can engage our audience's attention consistently in a way that's natural and personable.

"The Surprising Secret to Speaking with Confidence" by Caroline Goyder

Renowned voice coach Caroline Goyder explores the connection between breathing, confidence, and effective communication. In her talk, she shares practical exercises to help regulate your breath and cultivate a confident speaking voice.

Quite a few posts on this blog have talked about the importance of breath, and I want to reiterate that point here. Breathing connects us to our bodies, calms our nerves, and provides support to the very words we use to give a speech. Our emotions are intimately connected to our breath, and while other techniques may focus on preparation and visual aids (which are still important), there is no more transformative technique to master for gaining control of our fear than breathing.

By incorporating breath control techniques, you can reduce anxiety, project authenticity, and speak with conviction, transforming your public speaking experience.

"The Art of Being Yourself" by Caroline McHugh

Caroline McHugh, a branding expert, delves into the transformative power of embracing and expressing your true self. In her talk, she encourages us to let go of the fear of judgment and fully embrace our authenticity.

One of my favorite quotes from this talk has stayed with me since I first heard it:

I think that we all come complete. We come complete with one true note we were destined to sing.

The sentiment behind the quote is powerful once you sit with it. It rings true with my personal philosophy behind my work with clients in developing their dreams, and that is the idea that every person has an innate gift inside of them that they can use to achieve success.

The most powerful skill is to know who you are, and acknowledge that everything you need to achieve success has been with you since day one. Stage fright has no way of touching you if you embrace your authentic gift, and allow your true self to shine through.

By aligning your words, actions, and values, you can cultivate a strong personal presence and communicate with genuine passion, overcoming public speaking anxiety along the way.


TED Talks provide a wealth of wisdom and inspiration for overcoming public speaking anxiety. Even from their opening remarks, I found myself already engaged with what these speakers, some of them seasoned experts in public speaking, others from a variety of different industries.

I hope that by listening to these speakers, you gain valuable insights, practical strategies, and renewed confidence to conquer your fear.

Remember, each speaker brings a unique perspective, so explore their talks, discover the approaches that resonate with you, and integrate them into your own speaking journey. Embrace the power of your voice, step onto the stage with confidence, and share your ideas with the world. The journey to becoming a compelling speaker starts today.

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