• Cory Morrison

Autism: Have I ever gone through stage fright?

Has my anxiety ever been related to presenting?


I have had many episodes of anxiety throughout my life, but have they related to presenting anything?


For the most part, no. I've usually been thrilled to use such opportunities.


If anything, I can get more anxious with social interactions because, at least with public speaking, I usually know when I'm supposed to talk and what to do while doing so. Social interaction tends to have more unspoken rules, and it is easier to interrupt or say the wrong thing accidentally.


What is stage fright?


According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), stage fright occurs when people are afraid of public speaking and performing. Sometimes, people can feel so embarrassed about it; they won't tell people they trust the most.

(Photo credit: Aleutie on Can Stock Photo)

Elementary years


There were admittedly times throughout my elementary years when presenting in front of the class or school was nerve-wracking, but only if I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do.


For example, in third grade, 20 years ago, I took part of my school's Remembrance Day assembly. I recall I had to say a few words with many other students, and I don't even remember what I said or even what the assembly was like other than that my mother was there to watch me. I only remember saying something, and a few people laughed at me. I might have gone through slight stage fright at the time, but I don't think I was too upset about it. Regardless, I remember visiting my paternal grandparents a couple of weeks later for an early Christmas celebration, and my grandfather told me, "Hey! I heard that Cory was a hero this Remembrance Day!"


When I knew what I had to do, however, I was quite confident when it came to presentations, especially school speeches when I would confidently talk about topics that I was interested in (Grade four was younger brothers, grade five was fast food, grade six was gum, grade seven was learning disabilities and grade eight was natural disasters). Later in elementary, there was one occasion where I lip-synced with my class, another where I played piano at my school's talent show, and I took part in the school band in eighth grade. I did pretty well with these, overall. They boosted my confidence with presenting to others, at least temporarily.


High school and college years


In high school, because of my IEP and social issues, I had a couple of teachers who accommodated me, so I didn't have to present in front of the class, even though presenting wasn't a huge issue. I accepted the accommodations, however.


Later in high school into college, talking at the front of the class wasn't a problem for me.. In December 2017, in my Fundamentals of Journalism class, my presenting group and I talked about Olympic athletes. It was the first time since April 2013, when I took my General Arts and Science program, that I presented to the class. I was nervous at first, but I didn't experience stage fright.

I present my winning speech at the COPA ceremony in Toronto in November 2018 (Photo credit: John Morrison)

In November 2018, when I won a silver Canadian online publishing award (COPA) for my "The journey of autism services" article on the Sheridan Sun, I presented a speech highlighting the story behind my article and thanking my professors who helped me improve my writing skills. Even if I mixed words up a couple of times, I still considered this one of my most memorable presentations ever. My favourite part was at the end when a bunch of strangers came up to me and said, "You made the night even more fun with your speech!" I didn't expect that to happen.


Just as long as I know what I'm doing


In conclusion, if I know what I'm supposed to present once I go up on stage or in front of a group, I can be confident. Sometimes, people may even see me as quiet at first but see my most outgoing when I present something. The anxiety can still be there, but I can manage it okay.


You may also like: Accommodations people with autism can use in college






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