Top Ten Tips for Helping Students Overcome Presentation Fear

From the Collective Wisdom of the CTFD Advisory Board

Oral presentations are a standard component of pedagogy and assessment, yet are sheer personal torture for many students. Their fear of public performance also renders a presentation less effective as a learning rubric. Fortunately, there are techniques available to help you help your student cope with hesitancy and fear in the face of public presentation.

  1. Make sure that there is no physical or emotional disability to be considered for accommodation.
  2. Build up to the solo presentations by having more than one per semester, and make them gradually less collective.
  3. Try a small group presentation first, with parts or roles assigned to everyone in class, so that all students have to speak.
  4. Prepare the student by beginning with a small response or recitation, where she can respond from her seat without having to face the class.
  5. When the student faces the class the first time, have him do so with a partner for a shared two-minute presentation.
  6. Give students a choice of dates, so they feel they have some control while adhering to the course requirements.
  7. Hold a dress rehearsal with feedback for the student's first solo outing; this will help relieve the pressure of the graded oral presentation.
  8. Let the student know that it is OK to write out the presentation and that it helps to keep to a text or outline so that time constraints are met.
  9. For the actual presentation, have the student pick three friends to sit one on the left, one on in the center, and one on the right, so that he can make eye contact with friendly faces.
  10. If the problem is severe, Counseling and Psychological Services offers methods to help students overcome their performance anxiety; consult them early if you suspect the issues are more serious than the average stage fright.