Is there a drug to get rid of my fear of public speaking?

by Pierre Morsa

It may sound weird, but this is a question we get asked from time to time: “Do you know a prescription drug that would help me reduce my stress on stage?”

We’re not talking about illegal drugs, but legal drugs sold in pharmacies. There are a lot of those designed by pharmaceutical companies to reduce stress, anxiety, blood pressure, cardiac rhythm, etc. We are not doctors, so we cannot say anything about them from a medical perspective. But in the context of presentations, we don’t recommend any. We met a few people who unfortunately thought they couldn’t do without them. Looking back at their performance, we don’t think the drugs had any positive effect. They may have thought that it improved their performance on stage, but it didn’t. As the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nile Rodgers once explained in an interview in the Guardian:

“(…) My drugs made me think it was amazing. The people freaking out made me think it was amazing. My beautiful date made me think it was amazing. But the tapes don’t lie. It was not amazing. (…)” —Nile Rodgers

Of course Nile Rodgers was probably referring to something a bit stronger than Aspirin, but his lesson remains true for any kind of stage performance. Great presentation delivery requires your full presence and an authentic connection with the audience. Drugs will only set you off balance and give you a distorted view of reality, preventing you from being yourself, centered and focused on the moment.

In fact, you already may be taking a drug that makes things worse: coffee. Find out why that’s not a good idea in this short podcast.

After working with thousands of speakers, our message is clear: you don’t need drugs to present successfully, but you do need energy. A good presentation coach will help you turn your fear into positive energy, helping you achieve full presence on stage, and giving your messages the power they—and your audience—deserve.