Wet hands, shaky knees, dry mouth, and butterflies in your stomach are all part of the unsettling mental and physical toll stage fright has on our health. The fear of public speaking, which triggers a fight or flight response, tops death and spiders as the nation’s number one phobia. Mikael Cho of TED-Ed teaches us in the YouTube video The science of stage fright (and how to overcome it), how we can adapt to one of our biggest fears and get good at public speaking on center stage.

A common thought that runs through our minds as we approach the podium is, “What if people think I'm awful and I'm an idiot," says Cho in the video. This reaction stems from the fact we are humans — social animals that are wired to worry about our reputation, which can be threatened by public speaking. The automatic human anxiety reaction we feel on stage is how our body physically reacts when our brain perceives a threat.

To effectively prevent our blood pressure from rising and our digestion making us weak in the knees, Cho suggests we use perspective. He believes if we focus on what we can control and practice a lot in an environment similar to our performance, we can reduce anxiety as we increase familiarity with the scenario. That way, when it’s time to speak in public, we will be able to know what we’re saying while feeding off the crowd’s energy.

Now, before you take the stage, remember to stretch your arms and breathe deeply to make the hypothalamus trigger a relaxation response. Stage fright usually hits hardest right before a presentation, so it’s best to take the last minute to breathe, stretch, shake, and let it go. This helps you to adapt to stage fright and learn to reframe stress to become a better public speaker.