Most people would never associate a drug created to help fight heart disease with public speaking, but Propranolol is very frequently given that honor.
Important Note: This article has been written for adults giving speeches or adults considering taking Propranolol for performance anxiety such as stage fright. This article has not been written for children who may wish to calm their nerves before public performances. Whether you are an adult or a child, you should consult with your doctor regarding the usage and correct dosage of Propranolol.
5 Vital Propranolol Public Speaking Facts
#1 – What Is Propranolol?
Propranolol is a Beta-Blocker. Beta-Blockers are drugs that are used to slow down the activity of the heart and also block hormones such as adrenaline. Given the fact that giving an important speech certainly can raise both the heart rate and increase adrenaline production, a drug that combats both symptoms is sure to be something that attracts a great deal of attention. Propranolol is sold under the brand name, Inderal and also comes under other brand names including Hemangeol, Inderal XL, InnoPran XL, and Inderal LA
#2 – Propranolol for Public Speaking Side Effects
As with most medications, there are associated side effects. Some side effects are quite minor, while some are more severe. The two bulleted-lists below are divided into both levels of severity.
- Dry eyes.
- A slower heart rate.
- Weakness or tiredness
- Hair loss.
- Allergic reactions such as swelling of the lips, tongue or face.
- Problems with breathing.
- Dry peeling skin.
- Swelling of legs or ankles.
- A sudden and noticeable weight gain.
- Weakness or muscle cramps.
- Sleep disturbance and nightmares.
Both of the above lists are not exhaustive, and other symptoms could occur. If you are taking Propranolol or any other medication and you experience any ill side effects then always consult with your doctor immediately.
#3 – Propranolol Dosage for Public Speaking
Because Propranolol is mainly prescribed for heart disease, the exact dosage recommended for public speaking varies. After researching this subject, I have found that most people taking Propranolol for public speaking take 40mg. Some people suggest taking one dosage of 20mg a few hours before the speech, and then the last 20mg about one to two hours before the speech itself.
Some people have stated that they take higher doses but that carries the risk that you can go ‘beyond’ relaxed and end up being light-headed. If you are giving a long speech, then the last thing you want is to have no sense-of-self remaining when the audience may wish to ask you questions.
#4 – I have to Give Speeches Very Often, Can I Rely on Propranolol Being Consistent?
The answer is: “possibly,” but there’s always a risk. The risk of taking any medication long-term is that side effects that were not first noticeable can become an issue later. It may be that you take Propranolol and have a slight side effect that you are happy to live with. After repeated doses, however, that side effect may become more potent. There are other long-term side effects associated with all Beta-Blockers, and that is an increased risk of diabetes.
#5 – Are There Any Reasons NOT to Take Propranolol for Public Speaking?
There indeed are reasons, yes. The thing about Beta-Blockers, in general, is that they were never designed for reducing anxiety. Many doctors prescribe Propranolol to help patients with all manner of anxiety issues because Propranolol helps many people who suffer from various forms of stress. But Propranolol was never designed for this purpose. Some people suffer more anxiety after taking Propranolol because the occasional side effects create symptoms, and some people then become more anxious because of the symptoms they are experiencing.
How Can I Be More Relaxed and Confident Giving Speeches Without Taking Propranolol?
One great tip is to turn the nervousness into excitement. This suggestion may seem like a bizarre thing to recommend, but allow me to explain. The feelings of nervousness and excitement are very closely linked. Both emotions may at first seem like complete opposites, but they are not. Both feelings make you experience very similar physical and mental sensations. So instead of moping around before the speech looking and feeling tense and seeming quiet and deep in thought, transform your behavior to the exact opposite.
Think about your feelings before a speech and think about your feelings before going on a fast ride at a theme park. Both moments raise your heart rate, and you feel that nervous energy is raging inside you. Your rate of breathing speeds up and your muscles tingle in your legs and arms. There’s a powerful feeling of anticipation.
Your behavior before each event is often very different. The day of the speech sees you looking tense, and perhaps you snap at anyone who upsets you even slightly. But in the theme park car, you are shouting, screaming and your arms are waving like crazy.
What’s the difference?
The difference is that you have allowed the public speaking event to subdue what your mind and body would love to do, and that is to scream at the top of your voice and move your body to use up that nervous energy!
So instead of reaching for any medication, first try reaching for an energy drink and then allow yourself the full permission to show your nerves that actually, you prefer excitement instead!