Nauseating nerves catapult around your stomach, your brain fogs over, the room falls silent and expectant eyes suddenly focus on you.
If this mirrors your feelings about public speaking you are not alone. However, conquering your oratorical hang-ups could bring rich rewards both personally and financially say the Bay's business experts.
Carly Shorter, of Bubble and Speak, hosts courses to improve people's public speaking skills and specifically to help bolster profit.
"This is a highly technological world but we still need to be able to communicate effectively," she said. "The better you get your message across the more opportunities turn up and you maximise those opportunities."
Mrs Shorter, who spent 14 years as a radio presenter, is holding an upcoming workshop on "How To Be a Blimmin Great Public Speaker and Turn It Into Dollars". Subjects covered include building strength and control of your voice, how to structure great content, captivate and engage your audience, and how to use influential body language.
"Communicating your message is the key to success. That's how you turn it into dollars," she said.
However, Mrs Shorter said learning the tools for good communication could benefit more than the business sector.
"They are great skills for anyone from high school through to old age," she said. "You regularly come across teenagers who mumble and grunt and can't look you in the eye, who can't get their opinion across. Also there are people who are more advanced in years who beat themselves up because in conversation they lose track of where they want to go, or forget what they wanted to say and lose the power behind their message."
The owner/operator of Tauranga's Jarrah Construction, Merle Rankin, said she once suffered from chronic public speaking nerves.
"It's my worst nightmare talking to more than one or two people in a public environment. It's my biggest fear apart from spiders."
Ms Rankin decided to take action.
"Everyone goes to public speaking courses for different reasons. For me it was my parents' wedding anniversary a couple of years ago that made me think about it. When it came to standing up in front of friends and family and saying something about Mum and Dad I just couldn't do it. I just knew I would break down. It's been on my mind ever since. I didn't want other events to go by, like my son's 21st, where the same thing could happen."
Ms Rankin attended one of Mrs Shorter's three-hour introductory courses in August. She still "hates public speaking" but said she now had methods to deal with her fears.
"I wanted to get some tools so that it didn't freak me out so much," she said. "We covered relatability, how to engage people and captivate them, voice control, breathing, projection, pace and slowing down. Someone who is nervous about public speaking tends to speak too quickly so Carly got us to hold a rubber band and stretch it for each syllable. It really gets you in tune with the pace of your speech."
Ms Rankin said she had not expected significant results from a short-duration course.
"Carly videoed us speaking at the start and end of the course. I didn't like the thought of watching myself on video so I put it off for a while. To be honest I had enjoyed the course but didn't really feel that much better at the end so wasn't expecting much from the video. But when I watched it back it was amazing at how different it was. I would certainly recommend it.
"You can't just go to one three-hour session and be better of course," she said. "You have to follow up on that and practice."
A Tauranga business leader who benefited from improving his speaking skills was Chamber of Commerce CEO Max Mason.
"Sometimes we can look back on our lives and pinpoint people or events that have made all the difference. For me one of those key events was to enrol with Toastmasters to learn how to speak in public. It gave me a lot more self-assurance than I had naturally, and provided a platform of communication skills that I have always valued.
"As a result for the last 25 years I have spoken at countless weddings, funerals, big birthday events, farewells, openings, and other occasions. My job necessitates that I speak to large and small groups at least twice a week and the secret is always to start with thinking about why the audience is there and what they want to hear. Then to prepare and practice, that's the key."
The connection between public speaking and self-confidence is very strong, says Jemma McLoughlin, owner of Headway Life Coaching.
"A person who has trouble with one often has comparable difficulty with the other. The secret to improving both is to use public speaking as a tool to strengthen your self-confidence.
"Most people are a little nervous before presenting or giving a speech. It can be useful to practice in front of a mirror, or tape yourself speaking so you can see and hear where you can improve. Remind yourself that if you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world.
"As your self-confidence increases, public speaking will become easier. You will be more relaxed and self-doubt will decrease. Public speaking is a skill that can benefit you in so many ways including improved leadership and communication skills and the opportunity to motivate and inspire others."
The "How to be a Blimmin Great Public Speaker" workshop is being held on Thursday, October 4, at the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, from 9.30am-12.30pm. For details contact Emma Harvey on (07) 577 8957.