Dear American Girl,

I have a big presentation coming up for school, and I'm so nervous. Every time I give a speech in front of my class, my hands shake, my face turns red, and I stutter. Is there anything I can do to calm my jitters during my presentation?
-Stage fright

Here's your advice:

My mom teaches a speech class. She says that right before a speech, it's important to take a moment to relax. Take a deep breath and picture something that makes you feel good, such as a sunny beach. If you try to relax before your presentation, you might not be so nervous.
-Bianca, age 9, Washington

When you give your speech, pretend that you are a news anchor. Imagine that you've had years of experience and you're a natural in front of a camera. A confident mindset might reduce your jitters.
-Elena, age 12, North Carolina

If you have a pet, practice your presentation in front of her. Your furry friend won't laugh or criticize your speech.
-Norma, age 11, Illinois

Remember, you're not the only one who has to give a presentation—I bet lots of your classmates are just as nervous as you are!
-Gabriella, age 12, Canada

The night before your speech, do something that makes you feel calm and happy, such as watching a movie or playing with a friend.
-Allie, age 13, West Virginia

Think of a reward to give yourself when you're done with your presentation, such as a trip to an ice cream shop or buying a new bracelet. Maybe you'll end up focusing on your reward instead of your jitters!
-Caitlyn, age 11, Canada

Don't focus on the audience—focus on your speech. It's a simple tip that has helped me through lots of presentations.
-Madison, age 12, Texas

If you freeze up mid-presentation, picture your classmates wearing silly outfits, such as tutus and clown clothes. Imagining this funny scene might help you loosen up and smile.
-Leah, age 13, New Jersey

I have a box at home that I call my "lucky charm box." It's filled with pennies, rocks, and beads, and whenever I know I'll be doing something nerve-wracking, I put one of those items in my pocket. Having a charm helps me feel a lot less nervous during speeches.
-Janie, age 10, Virginia

If it's all right with your teacher, roll a stress ball around in your hands until it's your turn. Keeping your hands busy could help them to not shake during your presentation.
-Elise, age 12, Virginia

I used to get freaked out about speaking in front of crowds. Then I realized that the easiest way to get over it is to focus on one person, such as someone you know, and to act as if you're speaking to just that person. This trick worked for me, and now I'm the captain of my school's debate team!
-Isabella, age 13, California

If you stumble over your words, pause and have a phrase ready to say, such as, "Sorry—my words are trying to run away!" It'll give you and the audience something to giggle about, and then you can move on with your speech.
-Faith, age 10, Georgia

When I practice for presentations, I imagine that I'm giving my speech in front of millions of people. That way, when I do the real speech in front of just 20 people, I feel a lot more relaxed.
-Isabella, age 12, Peru

If your teacher asks if someone would like to go first, raise your hand! I know that doesn't sound like a good idea, but this actually will help you. You won't have to sit and wait while your nervousness builds, and you won't be comparing yourself to your classmates, either. It's good to just get it over with.
-Ally, age 13, Illinois

Practice talking to your stuffed animals. This might sound silly, but if you practice with your stuffed animals until you're confident, you might be better prepared to talk in front of your class. If you still feel nervous, pretend that you're just talking to Fluffy Bunny and Sammy the Snake.
-Beth, age 12, California

The best thing you can do is stand up tall, take a deep breath, and start talking. Don't let anything distract you, and have confidence in yourself. Hope this helps!
-Tessa, age 10, Florida

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