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Thread: Fear of Public Speaking

  1. #51
    I went to sleep a poet Chazemataz's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    I used to get terrified beyond belief when I had to present something in front of the class. I'd cry, shake, get bad diareha, have stomach aches, puke, the whole 9 yards. Then I took an English class in which my EVVVILLL teacher made us do that kind of thing monthly, for 5 minutes at least.

    I got over it in about 3 months. I thought he was awful at the time, but I can't thank him ENOUGH. In my Senior English class, I can now give speeches without visibly shaking or getting worked up, stuttering, ect.

    The best thing to remember is that everyone else has to do the exact same thing as you, and so will likely relate to you in some way. Unless you do something like faint, nobody will really care, so you may as well make it as best and overblown as possible. Try to act casual and "light conversation"-esque. Make sure you act flexible and behave as if you are talking to a friend.

    Those are tips that helped old social phobic me, so they could probably help you, too.

  2. #52
    in the pink
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    Dec 2006
    I just take extra Xanax, and rehearse in front of a mirror a few times before taking the stage.

  3. #53
    practical experience, FTW michellek's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    Kayenta USA

    How do I manage?

    How do I manage? This might sound really really stupid. I just remind myself that I NEVER have to see these people ever again when required to do a speech.

  4. #54
    New kid, be gentle!
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Next door to aliens
    I get nervous laughter (which is so embarrasing.)

    I can tell people are thinking ''what's so funny?'' That's the thing. There's nothing funny!

    Anybody know how to control this?
    Last edited by Night_Sky; 11-09-2010 at 07:13 AM.

  5. #55
    The Undead Bookworm Eudoxia's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Lost in space
    My mind always used to go blank every time I had to get up in front of the class and do a presentation. I would know exactly what I wanted to say and when the teacher called my name, BAM! I just completely forgot everything and just start babbling like an idiot. My voice would be shaky and so would my body.

    I'm a little better at public speaking now. I've been practicing by doing some small speeches or short stories in front of my boyfriend.
    I still will often have shaky hands or legs and a few times my voice will crack, but I doubt any sort of practice will fix that. As long as I can still get my words out without stumbling over them, I'm good. What also sometimes helps me is to just stare at the back wall or a supporting figure (Boyfriend, Husband, Parent, Sibling, Friend, etc.).


  6. #56
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. AW Moderator Torgo's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    London, UK
    I have done lots of public speaking in my time and there's nothing you can do about shaky hands or butterflies - they are, as far as I know, an adrenaline reaction. The cool thing about adrenaline though is that your body is doing it for a reason: to prepare for fight or flight. You get a temporary boost so you can run away from the leopard or alternatively bop it on the head. Or indeed, so you can lift that car off your child. For a little while you can be a bit superhuman.

    The trick, I always find, is to ride that shaky feeling. What feels like nervousness is actually a resource you can draw on. Try learning to welcome the butterflies - for me at least they mean you're a bit sharper than you usually are.

  7. #57
    Re-writer Extraordinaire branchwag's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    I've joined Toastmasters which is an international group (seriously, go find one. They're all over the place) focused on public speaking. It has helped me LOADS. I'm not a club officer or anyone in charge of a recruitment thing, but I really feel like this has been a good way to improve because you will make speeches all the time. If you try your hand at contest, you'll improve faster, and if you don't, you'll still have a community of great people who more often than not know how to fix your problems. My fellow Toastmasters have offered me tons of helpful advice and they're encouraging about it so I want to make that next speech. I noticed things I didn't know were problems before 'such as how much I tend to say 'um' and how high-pitched my voice is if I don't lower it to speak. Seriously, go look them up. After all, practice makes perfect, and a club like this, even if it's not Toastmasters, is going to force you to practice. So my advice? Just join a public speaking group.[/Toastmasters love]
    "But embracing the amazing being that you are: this is a thing that no one can take away from you. Not Publishing, not your mean relative who doesn't get why you keep sending out your novel, not even the city of New York." - The Rejectionist

  8. #58
    practical experience, FTW PrincessofPersia's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    I'm just dreadful at public speaking. I can write what I want to say no problem, and it's usually very eloquent. But, I can't push the words out of my throat. Also, my accent gets really thick when I'm nervous, so people have trouble understanding me here sometimes. I thought about learning sign language and pretending to be deaf so I could have someone interpret for me.

  9. #59
    figuring it all out screamingturnip's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Despite being a social introvert, I'm actually decent at speaking to* crowds. This is in no small part due to a speech impediment which my public education tried to cure and failed, but succeeded in eliminating any fear of speaking at crowds.

    Couple bits I learned that seem to work for me. Get a feel for time, speak for five minutes then ten, learn the difference. When delivering a speech, speak to a spot in the horizon. One final bit, but tread lightly with this one...

    Imagine you are up against a firing squad about to be executed. These are your last words, make them count.

    *I'm actually not comfortable talking with people, but behind a podium I got power.

  10. #60
    Amazon Author Rank #263
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    May 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by darrtwish View Post
    Does anyone else have this phobia? I'm terrified to even stand in a roomful of my classmates/peers and read anything, even out of a textbook. It gives me really bad panic attacks every time I think about it in those situations.
    Used to have this same problem. Started substitute teaching for a little bit and gradually my shyness went away.

    So, I think it's something that will go away, if you work at it. Actively force yourself to be more social, or do something that will force you out of you shell.

  11. #61
    figuring it all out alpaca's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    I know what you mean, public speaking freaks me out too. Right now though, for the summer, I'm in a public speaking class at my college. It made me nervous knowing I had to get up there at first, and it still did on speech days too. Still, I made myself write and practice my (two) speeches out loud at home, I even recorded myself with my webcam to watch out for bad posture or having my sentences fade out at the end or anything else that would get me a lower grade.

    Then on speech day, I had to force myself to go again, and once I got to the school, force myself to actually go into my classroom. :P But the part that makes it so much easier is knowing every other student in the room has to give a speech too, and once it's my turn all I have to do is get up there, say what I came to say, and sit back down when it's over.

    So, I know what you mean -- but you really have to force yourself to do it!

  12. #62
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Jul 2011
    I had to take speech class twice in college. Best advice I can give is to have fun with it.

  13. #63
    "progress" StephenD's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Boulder, CO
    i just get naked.

  14. #64
    practical experience, FTW The305itself's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    Haha, I just listen to rap, that's how I got over it, I'm like, thank buddha I'm not going to be saying these things in front of anyone, then I'm like, I wish would have said those things in front of everyone

  15. #65
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Aug 2012
    I think it's all about self-esteem when it comes to talking in public; I had low self-esteem through high school, and feared when people looked at me. I always thought they were making fun of me, or were going to if they had to see my face and realize I exist.

    However, it always boggled me on how that class clown, or the student that just yaps-yaps-yaps over the teacher, have half the classroom as friends, and play practical jokes in public out in the hallways could be so afraid to stand in front of the class and read the history report. I always think "Come on, man, you talk to these people all the time, you talk over these people when they are giving their speech, don't tell me you're freak'n 'shy' now!". It's strange how public speaking is such a big deal, for various reasons, some reasons not making sense at all, but everyone is different I guess.

    I have to say, college was a lot easier to speak in than high school, because I was surrounded by adults, who I knew wouldn't tease me, or make fart jokes while I'm saying my speech; they were mature people, who understand how cruel it can be to harass others, so it made speaking easier for me. I have to say, I thought I was afraid to publicly speak until I went to college and talked in front of respectable adults who listened and waited their turn (even if they were bored out of their mind in their head! XD)

  16. #66
    practical experience, FTW TroyJackson's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Public speaking really doesn't bother me all that much. I do it for my job, and have for 13 years. Maybe for a speech or class I teach I might get a little nervous the very first time I go up there, but not deathly afraid where I do not want to go on the stage.

    For me it is all about feeling comfortable about the topic(s) you are speaking about. If I am up there speaking in front of a group (whether it's 3 people or 300) I am up there for a reason. In most cases, the sole reason I am up there is because I AM THE EXPERT. People came to listen to YOU. If they didn't feel you were worthy enough to listen to, they would never have come. People crave knowledge, and I am there to give it to them as best I can.

    Three things I feel are a must when speaking publicly:

    1) If you "ho" and "hum" and "uhh" a lot, you're toast. A few of them throughout a speech might be ok, but if you're doing it constantly, people will roll their eyes and think "this guy has no clue what he's talking about" or "he's a terrible speaker." Be prepared with what you want to say.

    2) Having some notes is generally ok, but if all you do is read them.... UGH. Nothing more painful that listening to someone READ their notes to you. I mean, a monkey could stand there and read them. Again, be prepared, and if you need to glance at the notes a few times, that is OK! But don't find yourself looking at them constantly or people will think you are completely unprepared and you will lose most/all credibility.

    3) Depending on what you're speaking about and whether you allow questions... some people may throw you a curveball. Life is a giant curveball. You are (hopefully) a professional with your topic(s) and you are ready to knock it out of the ballpark. If you shut down questions or if you relate back to #1, you will whiff. People will generally not like that. If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification. If you don't know the answer, well, do your best to wiggle out of it by asking for a business card, tell them you'll look into it and post it/call/email the answer, or ask if you can talk to them afterwards.

    Just my 2 cents worth...

  17. #67
    Makes useful distinctions Lady Ice's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    I agree with the above. The important thing to remember is that you are telling these people something useful that they will learn from. You don't have to think of yourself as the ultimate genius- that might throw you when asked questions- but be confident in what you know. As soon as you start to doubt yourself, your audience will doubt you.
    "We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art." (Henry James)

    "Either you think--or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you." (Tender is The Night)


  18. #68
    figuring it all out
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    Mar 2013
    I suffer too. I'm in grad school right now and I hate having class discussions or having to give presentations. It is so terribly anxiety provoking.

  19. #69
    figuring it all out
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    Oct 2013
    I hate public speaking! This is really bad because I'm VP of my class. I always get a severe case of butterflies and my voice starts to "shake"

  20. #70
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Someone mentioned this earlier in the thread. Try toastmasters. There are meetings in many languages all over the world. Each club has different types of members, different dynamics. I visited 4 before I chose.

    The one thing each club has in common -- getting a handle on public speaking -- in a kind, helpful way. I'm a much improved speaker, and I don't get sick anymore. http://www.toastmasters.org/

    PM if you have questions.

  21. #71
    practical experience, FTW GraemeTollins's Avatar
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    May 2013
    Dusseldorf, Germany
    I teach business English classes, never more than eight students. Part of a typical week will involve the students giving a short presentation. I always do this on a Friday, to give the students enough time to feel relaxed with each other.

    The thing I see, time and time again, is the change in body language and breathing. A student will be fine, sat down and chatting with the others, but as soon as they stand up, the body gets tense and the breathing shallow. Why is that? Why calm one minute and the next a shaking bag of nerves? I think it comes down to our perceptions of our audience. Suddenly they are no longer mere classmates, other regular people that we have been joking with only minutes before. Now they are a judging panel, looking for weakness, ready to criticise.

    Now, I always give a jokey little presentation of my own first. Something very inconsequential and relaxed. I involve the class, addressing people directly. It's funny how, very often, students tell me later that they usually die at the thought, but that they enjoyed themselves for the first time.

    I think that is key. To remember that your audience are just other people. They don't want perfect. They just want to listen to another person talking like a real person.

    Huge quantities of alcohol helps too.
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  22. #72
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Katy, Texas


    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha Echo View Post
    I am terrified of public speaking. I took a class in college one semester, and I didn't do all that well. I havent' been in a situation since where i had to speak publically. I think if I were in a group setting...like hopefully one day when i get published and have to do a reading or something, it would be different. Different than standing up behind the microphone, speaking to a whole auditorium full of people.
    I have to speak in front of people. I've always had the phobia, but it gets better with age. The trick I use is similar to an actor. I change myself inside and play the part of principal or public speaker. Another trick is to go out in the audience as they arrive before you speak. Talk to some people and find their friendly faces in the audience as you speak.

  23. #73
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Feb 2015
    I always try to realise that this won't make me die and start speaking.

  24. #74
    practical experience, FTW Booklover199's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Toronto, Canada
    I feel like I would be terrified, but I have been seriously drilled since like Grade 2 to give presentations. I don't know if it was just the school I went to or what, but standing in front of a class of like 30 kids and giving presentations was something we did on a regular basis, I've kind of just become used to it now.

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