Fight or flight? How to Overcome Stage Fright and Submit Your Hot Rocks Idea

Mar 14, 2019 at 12:16 pm
Sarah Rumple

You are smart. When it comes to your area of expertise within the veterinary industry, you really know what you’re talking about. That’s why you’re a valuable member of VetPartners, and that’s why you should share your knowledge with your fellow VetPartners members through a Hot Rocks presentation at the 2019 Mid-Year Meeting.

But, some of us really don’t like speaking in front of a group of people, no matter how much valuable knowledge we have to share. Why?

Stage. Fright.

What if your colleagues think you’re awful? What if they think you’re an idiot? The fear of being seen as an awful idiot comes from a primitive part of your brain—your hypothalamus—that you can’t control. As a human, you are wired to worry about reputation. Public speaking can threaten your reputation, and that triggers your fight-or-flight response. It makes your palms sweat. It makes your heart race. It puts your stomach in knots. It makes your mouth dry. It’s terrifying.

BUT…that’s normal. It’s a natural, hormonal, full-body reaction. And, genetics play a huge role in your reaction to public speaking and other social situations that can trigger anxiety.

BUT…you can can overcome this normal reaction.

How to overcome stage fright

According to the Ted Talk video by Mikael Cho, here’s how you can overcome your fear of presenting a Hot Rocks talk at the 2019 VetPartners Mid-Year Meeting:

  • Focus on what you can control — Practice. A lot. The more you practice, the more familiar you are with your material, and the less anxious you will be. If you know what you’re saying, you’ll feed off the crowd’s energy instead of letting your hypothalamus convince your body that it’s about to be lunch for a pack of predators, which causes the fight-or-flight response.
  • Trick your brain — Just before you go on stage, stretch your arms up and breathe deeply. This makes your hypothalamus trigger a relaxation response.

My favorite part of the video that inspired this blog post: “You don’t overcome stage fright. You adapt to it. And to the fact that no matter how civilized you may seem, in part of your brain, you’re still a wild animal… a profound, well-spoken wild animal.”

Yes, you can do this. You can submit your brilliant idea for a Hot Rocks presentation. And, you should (before the April 24 deadline, please).

Join us for the VetPartners 2019 Mid-Year Meeting!
July 30–August 1, 2019
Washington, D.C.

See you there! And, we promise—everyone will love your Hot Rocks presentation.

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Rumple, Sarah
Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Serving the veterinary industry since 2011, her writing covers everything from practice management topics for veterinary professionals to pet health and behavior topics for pet owners. Sarah’s clients include veterinary publications, organizations, nonprofit associations, media companies, individual veterinarians/practices, corporate groups, and others. Sarah is owner and chief creative officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing LLC, which she began in 2016. She and her team write more than 30 blog posts for their various clients every month. Learn more about Sarah or contact her at

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