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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm really, really bad at public speaking. Even if I don't feel nervous beforehand, my body has an immediate visceral reaction: pounding, rapid heartbeat, sweaty, shaky, forgetting to breathe, squeaky, cracking voice, et cetera. No matter how prepared I am, it always happens. No matter how much I tell myself to not be nervous, it always happens. My brain works absolutely fine-- it's merely this physical reaction that occurs.

So, with that said, I have the most important speech/presentation of my 21 years on planet earth coming up this Friday. I'm in an exhibition that's opening, my first one ever, and I have to do a ten minute talk to everyone there about my work. Needless to say, I am shitting my pants.

So far, I have the following strategies:

--My boyfriend will be there, so I am just going to awkwardly stare at him the whole time and pretend he is the only person there
--Gonna pop a couple of Xanax and maybe have a beer. Yes, that desperate.

I'm hoping you guys might have some less neurotic suggestions as to how I can relax this completely uncontrollable reaction my body has to these kinds of situations and maybe not embarrass myself in front of my peers and faculty of the university.

Kthanks!
 

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I've struggled with this on and off since I was in high school. I find that if I am standing behind something (a desk or a podium) I feel a lot more grounded... do you have access to anything like that?
 
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I've struggled with this on and off since I was in high school. I find that if I am standing behind something (a desk or a podium) I feel a lot more grounded... do you have access to anything like that?
I'm the exact same way. A podium helps a hell of a lot. No podium on Friday, though... It'll be inside the gallery, by my artwork, with nothing between me and the folks. : (
 

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Public speaking is a total high for me. Even when I'm just teaching a class.

The physical reaction is your body's natural "fight or flight" mechanism. even if you don't "Feel" nervous, you are subconsciously nervous and your body is reacting to the potential "danger"...i.e. fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of humiliation, whatever it is for you.

It takes a lot of repeated exposure to calm the Fight or Flight mechanism. In the meantime, I suggest mental exercises. First, allow yourself to feel nervous, but in a controlled way. Talk yourself through it. "I know that I am nervous. I know that I'm afraid I will fail and people will laugh. I know that even if this happens, I will still live the rest of my life and this will not change whether I am a good artist, a good girlfriend, or a good person." Just go through that whole mental process. This helps your cognitive process to break the instinctual cycle.

If you have time before you go up on stage, get a moment alone. Stand very still with your arms slightly out from your sides. Imagine your negative mental energy running off you like liquid and draining from your fingertips. Shake the negative energy off like you just washed your hands.

Stuff like this seems corny, but it helps.
 

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Haha, it's going to be alright. I've seen it all, with nervous speakers first go at it.

Here's the thing. FORGET about what other people are thinking, just go with it, and be you. What is the point of your speech? I say, focus on getting it across.

Actually, I have a bit of a story, I don't know if this will help or not. But, this is what I did. I started writing a speech presentation, and started rehearsing it, for my speech class. It sounded really fucking retarded, and I said, this is SO not me. So what I ended up doing was THROWING it in the trash. I said, I know enough about this stuff anyway, wrote down 5 key elements on a note card that were a sentence or less. Given, before this happened, I was shitting in my pants also. But then, so I just went up there with my 5 key points, and I winged it. And, it was the best speech, I ever gave. The listeners were laughing, entertained, and I got my point across.

Focus on getting your point across!

The thing about adrenaline too. You need to USE it. It's helping you. ;)

Probably, didn't help at all, but that's all I have to offer. :cool:

You'll be alright. Maybe. Lol
 

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I hate public speaking. Yet here's something weird that helped me a little when I had speech class: Along with the podium in the room, there was a stool behind it. I sat on the stool. For some reason, it made me feel less nervous. ...Maybe you should also try getting a stool as well as a podium? ^_^
 

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Remember that people want you to succeed. They are not there to criticise you or make you feel bad. They are there because they want to listen to you, they love you :)

People usually recommend that you remember the first few sentences of what you plan to say, in order to avoid the weirdness. Whenever I try to do so I forget the sentences, :), so I am not sure it's very effective for someone without experience.

My personal recommendation is that you ask something to your audience, like:
"Hi, how many of you have been in a situation like XXX before at your work?" (and you raise your own hand). Some people will interact and raise their hands, then you say "ok, some of you towards the end of the room, as usual" and something about whatever you asked, maybe a little joke, and people will engage because they feel you are saying something they can relate to. And because you have asked them something, it does not feel anymore like a monologue but a conversation, which will make you feel more comfortable.

Good luck!
J
 

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I love public speaking, so here are my tips

1. your audience is there to see you and your work. they are your "friends". they will not attack, criticize ect. So make eye contact and move around as you speak. Smile and they will smile back.

2. You love what you do and are good at it. Remember that. Speak with the same passion you have for your craft; its contagious.

3. Practice in front of a mirror and friends; If you can. record it so you can hear the pace of your speech, and slow down if necessary.
 
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It’s okay to be nervous…most people are, and I still feel nervous when presenting a speech. You won’t always have a podium or something to stand behind to create a barrier between you and the audience, so might as well get used to not having it.

Know your introduction so you don’t have to look at your paper. It’s the part of the speech where you want about 80% eye contact in order to set up rapport with your audience.

When you look at the audience, don’t look them directly in the eyes…as it will make you more nervous and possibly make some audience members feel uncomfortable that you’re staring at them. Look at the top of their heads when looking at the audience. It gives the perception that you are talking to the audience without rudely staring.

Here are some tips that may help with stage fright:

1.) You should be prepared. Practice your speech multiple times before presenting it. It really helps you to remember your speech so you’re not using a bunch of filled pauses like “ummm” “uhhh” “you know.” Family members or friends can help critique your speech, and you can use a mirror to see what you look like while delivering a speech. Good gesturing can bring a speech to life and should come natural, so you can focus on what you are saying.

2.) Relax your muscles before giving a speech. It can help to relieve some tension.

3.) You should have a sense of humor. Know that it’s not the end of the world should things not go as planned.

4.) Lastly, know that you WILL make a mistake. Even the best public speakers make mistakes from time to time, but it’s how you recover from them that’s important. Either pretend it never happened or quickly correct the mistake and move on. Do not dwell and bring attention to it.

You may never like public speaking, but the more you do it, the more you will gain confidence. Practice and know your material so you don’t have to read everything from the paper. Good luck!
 

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So I'm really, really bad at public speaking. Even if I don't feel nervous beforehand, my body has an immediate visceral reaction: pounding, rapid heartbeat, sweaty, shaky, forgetting to breathe, squeaky, cracking voice, et cetera. No matter how prepared I am, it always happens. No matter how much I tell myself to not be nervous, it always happens. My brain works absolutely fine-- it's merely this physical reaction that occurs.

So, with that said, I have the most important speech/presentation of my 21 years on planet earth coming up this Friday. I'm in an exhibition that's opening, my first one ever, and I have to do a ten minute talk to everyone there about my work. Needless to say, I am shitting my pants.

So far, I have the following strategies:

--My boyfriend will be there, so I am just going to awkwardly stare at him the whole time and pretend he is the only person there
--Gonna pop a couple of Xanax and maybe have a beer. Yes, that desperate.

I'm hoping you guys might have some less neurotic suggestions as to how I can relax this completely uncontrollable reaction my body has to these kinds of situations and maybe not embarrass myself in front of my peers and faculty of the university.

Kthanks!
The biggest step in eliminating the anxiety is to eliminate the precipitory-anxiety first. So you may want to drink some chamomile Tea, that always helps for me. Exercising first would also help to eliminate some anxiety. Also, I know A LOT about Xanax. You have to be careful with it. If you take too much, you are going to be high as fuck, the crowd will pick up on it, and you will look like a fool. So go easy with the Xanax. Also, mixing Xanax and alcohol is a very poor idea. It says that on the label.
 

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Oh yeah, I have a fear of public speaking as well. What works for me is to take a hot shower before heading out, get there a little bit early and keep a glass of warm water (not hot) nearby. The warm water calms your throat and seems to moisten everything better than cold water. If you prefer cold water, go for it :)

Practice, practice, practice, and remember that the people are there to hear YOU.

Hope it helps!

ZDD
 

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Gosh,i cant tell you how much i relate...I used to have social anxiety and it was a total burden to even talk to people let alone give speeches!Although im still very shy and anxious about giving public speeches ive discovered ways that calm me down and give me more confidence.Firstly make sure that youre convinced that youre fully prepared for the speech so you dont get even more nervous about not being prepared enough,you can try having little flashcards with you,so if you feel like youre panicking and feel as if you will forget everything,you have something to help you remember the key points.Personally, i found that having a powerpoint presentation at my back really helped because then,there would be something else that people would look at besides me(same thing with having your artwork behind you:) ).Also.... yes, having someone you know and trust in the room really helps,in your case your bf :)And lastly just remember ,everybody gets nervous in situations like this and we always seem to think about the worst situation...but it always turns out much better:)
 

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I love public speaking and have done it for a living. Oh, man, I wish I had more time to write ideas for you, but I have to leave now! I'll see if I can get something down really fast!

Nervousness is a kind of heightened self-awareness. You can't be nervous if you are not thinking about yourself. It's even that way for shy people on dates. They're think, "I look okay, right? Nothing in my teeth? Oh, crap, what if there is? What did she say? Look at her eyes! Stop staring! Look, relax and have a drink. Is my hand shaking? Does she notice? Ack! I inhaled when I drank! *splutter* Now she thinks I'm an idiot for sure. Is she trying not to laugh?" Etc. That's maybe a bit over-the-top, but the point is that this hyper-awareness is the killer. And the way to solve that is to focus strongly on the other person or people. You won't be as nervous when you're not thinking about yourself and monitoring everything. Stop monitoring and be in the moment. Focus outwards.

The fight-or-flight thing, as mentioned, is also something to look at. You body expects one of those two reactions and if you don't do them you'll feel worse. So, do something physical before your presentation, like pushups. It tricks your body into thinking, "Oh, that's all I was worried about? That's nothing!" Just don't do it right beforehand and go on stage panting. ;)

Make sure you eat and drink properly. Low blood-sugar, or caffeine, or too much sugar, etc. will all affect your ability to focus and your moods. Drink water (go pee before you go on stage) and make sure to eat a light meal with protein in it.

Your body language affects both how you feel and how others feel about you: smile. Lots.

Start with a joke. If you can get people to laugh it loosens the atmosphere in the room like you wouldn't believe. I remember starting a speech commenting about the trick of imagining your audience naked. I said, "Great, now I'm nervous and traumatized. And when I imagined [another speaker] naked I felt even more insecure".

Know your stuff! Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. When you give the speech, go with the flow as much as is possible.

Pre-visualize everything way before you do it. Like, kind of meditate on how it will go. Sit down, relax, and see yourself in your imagination giving the best presentation possible. Involve your senses by thinking of how stuff with feel in your hands, what you will hear, etc. Picture the room and the people enjoying your speech. Make sure that you wear the clothes you imagined yourself in, to reinforce the positive visualization.

Gotta go!
 

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I love public speaking, so here are my tips

1. your audience is there to see you and your work. they are your "friends". they will not attack, criticize ect. So make eye contact and move around as you speak. Smile and they will smile back.

2. You love what you do and are good at it. Remember that. Speak with the same passion you have for your craft; its contagious.

3. Practice in front of a mirror and friends; If you can. record it so you can hear the pace of your speech, and slow down if necessary.
These would be my tips, as well. Also, do your best to rehearse several times before hand. It really helps to be prepared. Just treat it as another rehearsal with people around. Don't look at it as the biggest, most important thing in your life. It may be important, but it doesn't mean it has to take frightening/anxiety inducing proportions.

If looking at people's eyes makes you uncomfortable, look near their foreheads. The following link sumps up anything else I'd have said, so do check it out:
Toastmasters International - 10 Tips for Public Speaking
- the 3 second tip has helped me a lot
- greeting your audience also helps. you end up seeing them as "friends" not critical judges.
- eat well before the presentation. make sure you're hydrated so you don't get a dry throat during the presentation.
- practice deep breathing. count to 10-inhale. count to 10-exhale. it's relaxing.
- some nervousness is good. it's energy. it can be utilized.
- smile, stay positive, expect the best from the whole experience. it sounds like self-help crap, but it really helps.


Public speaking comes very naturally to me, and I feel at home on stage. I also have a tendency to "wing it", at times, and not prepare too much before hand. I have to fight the urge to improvise and really focus on prep. What I shared above works very well for any situation involving performance anxiety.

Aside:
When I wrote the LSAT, I went through similar feelings during the prep phase. It was like my entire life depended on it. I felt like if I got anything less than 170, it would be the most shameful feeling imaginable. I, eventually, decided to stop treating is as the be all and end all of my existence. I relaxed into the prep. I did many ..many practice tests. On the day of the exam, I treated it like just another practice test. I knew what to do. I had done it many times. I ended up with a 173, which is a good score.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you so much for the advice, everyone!

My talk was last Friday and it actually went really well. I tried to remember as much advice from this thread as I could, and I ended up being able to use notecards, which was very helpful. Ironically the most helpful thing ended up being totally unpredictable-- I had to deal with a really emotional/troublesome event over those couple of days and it made my presentation seem like silly-willy-nilly to care about, so I didn't even have the emotional energy to be nervous about it. Blessings in disguise, I suppose.
 
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