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How to get over fear of public speaking? Halp!


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#1 Kay_Faraday

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 07:16 AM

:lol:

I'm taking a mandatory speech class to transfer to uni and have to give a presentation soon. I have a HUGE fear of public speaking, and had previously dropped a class because the professor required all students to participate by putting them on the spot, and asking them questions and etc. :lol::lol: But if I want to transfer to uni then I need to complete this speech course!

I embarrass very easily, so my face might look beet red when i'm giving a speech. My heart also RACES and it feels like I could bursts into tears at any second. I'm also not very articulate and might end up using "uhh", "umm", and "like" for every other word. I'm just really scared of looking like a fool. :cry:

The teacher emphasized on eye contact and prolonged eye contact makes me incredibly nervous. Who am I supposed to look at? How long?! What if I look at a particular person for too long, wont they think i'm weird? I just already know that i'm going to be staring at the floor during my whole presentation.

tl;dr

How can I relieve my nerves? Is there something I can take? (srs)

Sorry for the long rant. Appreciate any help!

#2 ShockandAww

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:15 AM

I probably don't have any good advice. I also have a fear of public speaking. It's an extremely common phobia if that makes you feel any better. There are people that give public speeches all the time and they still do not get over the fear of it. It's somewhat ingrained in us as human beings I think. We don't all want to be the center of attention, and none of us wants to be negatively judged. So you're far from alone in your fear.

In fact I don't know if I've actually given a "public speech" since grade school. The only thing I can remember that helped me at all was to know and believe what I was saying so I was at least confident in the words I was saying, if nothing else. When I spoke I made sure to command attention with my voice even though I absolutely hate attention. I thought of the listeners more as children that I was teaching than as peers who are all staring at me and judging me.

DO NOT LOOK AT THE FLOOR. That's like a self fulfilling prophecy and you will be judged for something like that. What you do is look through or right near people (at an individuals lips for example if you just cant bring yourself to make eye contact) so you at least look like you're making eye contact and such.

I also thought about what I'd say or do beforehand to not bore the audience. Basically I put myself in the listeners perspective and thought about my speech and made sure there were at least a couple of insightful or interesting points that people could hang on.

Dunno, like I said I have pretty bad social phobias all around so I'm not the best person to give advice on something like this.

Good luck anyway. I imagine once it's over you'll be glad you did it.

Edit: If there's a way you can involve someone else (like a participant in the audience) that also helps since you won't feel every eyeball focusing on only you.

Edit: Maybe work an "aint nobody got time for dat" or some goofy deadpan line in. Maybe not lol, but I'd laugh or at least remember it and pay attention.

Edited by ShockandAww, 01 February 2013 - 08:42 AM.


#3 bardockkun

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:28 AM

I Have a weird way of getting over public speaking, which is don't be you. Meaning think of someone who you personally know as a good public speaker, someone with charisma or whatever and try and imitate that. It helps in that you're not too overwhelmed by the material and it alleviates the pressure of what you think you should or shouldn't do personally with your own body language.
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#4 mrspicytacoman

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:11 AM

practice is all that matters. nobody is going to have a good speech without a fuckload of practice.

My freshmen year I took comms 100 (required) and when I was a freshmen I didn't research potential teachers very well. I ended up with the professor/organizer of the NIU speech/debate team as my professor.
she was a mean bitch and graded hard as hell. She treated that blow off class like a capstone senior course. Twas horrible.
But motivated by my own fear of not getting ridiculed by that bitch. I practiced everyday for hours before my speech was due.
Write out full outlines for your speech and practice on "cue cards" that will help you remember the outline of your speech when performing, while not reading it for verbatim.
Eye contact is easy and you have to do it, use the teacher as your "crutch", meaning scan the entire room on a regular basis but then focus on the teacher,
hopefully their a good teacher and won't mess you up, and will give good facial expressions to ease you on. You don't really have to look anybody in the eyes, just look at everybody in a scanning motion.
Let your arms flow yo, cuz if you don't your gunna shake like a bitch. articulate your points with good body language. You should practice this beforehand.
Everyone is nervous doing this, and nobody likes doing it. Nobody is gunna make fun of you, especially at a community college lmao. nobody gives a Fuck

Also a few shots of tequila or rum before class won't hurt either.

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#5 parKer

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:19 AM

I've given departmental and university seminars and public defenses. Very few people ever get used to it. Just a few things come to mind:

#1 Know your material forwards and backwards. If someone interrupts you with a question or a comment, you won't get frazzled and can easily get back on track. Knowing what to say next is key and confidence in knowing your material will push you through to the end.

#2 Look at people's foreheads. It will give the illusion of eye contact. 2 seconds per forehead should be enough. Find someone in the audience who is a "nodder" or "smiler," usually it's the teacher and your friends. Their positive feedback will help your confidence. Do a sweep across the room of foreheads (divide the room into thirds and give some love to each third), but when you feel like a freak-out is coming, find your nodders/smilers. Avoid the floor and clock at all costs.

#3 Keep your voice volume consistent. This is where PRACTICE comes into play. Practice will also help you lessen the filler words (um, uh, etc). I don't do this, but friends have and it helps them: record yourself on your first run-through, practice until you're comfortable with the material, then record again. You'll notice a big difference and it will boost your confidence.

#4 Try not to memorize, but instead present as if you're telling a story. You have an intro, the middle events, and a wrap-up. It will help with your flow. As a gamer, being able to recap a game's storyline to others should be easy.

#5 Always remember that a good majority of the audience wants you to do well. Nothing is more awful than watching someone struggle and suffer through their presentation and you're unable to change the channel or leave the room. They're on your side, believe it or not. So, WOW them.

#6 There is something you can take, but it's by prescription only. I advise against it though. I have seen people take it and sound like slurring drunkards.

Your first presentation will make or break you. Prepare for the first one well and you'll have the confidence for future assignments.

I must've said confidence a handful of times - it really is important. Look at the world's public speakers. They use teleprompters and don't write their own stuff. It's all about showing confidence that can separate a good speaker from a poor one.

Good luck!
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#6 Lieutenant Dan

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 09:28 PM

I always disliked public speaking but had to give my first speech for work recently. Like you I am prone to my pulse racing, sweating, cold hands, etc. I nailed the presentation and got many compliments afterward. Here are the two things that helped me:

1. Prepare as much as you can, and practice your presentation as many times as possible (within reason). Knowing your subject matter to the best of your ability should give you some confidence.

2. Watch any episode of "Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole" or any space-related documentary. Realize how very, very, infinitesimally small you are in the grand scheme of things. You are smaller than a grain of sand when you compare yourself to the vastness of the universe. It does not matter, in the grand scheme of things, how well you do on your speech for your class. It does not matter what those people think of you. Life will go on no matter what the outcome of your speech is. The martians on planet VXWX-6475J don't know you exist, let alone care about you or your speech. In fact, the people down the street from you probably don't know you exist either. I used this method to calm myself down and get closer to my usual easy-going vibe.

Other tips:

Have a good, typewritten script of what you are going to say. Double space it so you don't get lost in a wall of text when you are trying to read and look up at the audience periodically. This is your backup plan if your nerves start to get the better of you. It is your safety blanket. The more you practice and get comfortable with your speech, the less you should need to read directly from it.

If you're having a real, significant problem with nerves, I suppose Xanax could help, but I would take the time to learn how it would effect me first, and of course I would go through a legitimate source like a psychiatrist or something.

#7 lordopus99

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:12 PM

Two tips no one has mentioned
1) Breathe. It will help calm your nerves and keep yourself from that redness.
2) Relax. Speed will only hurt. You will feel uncomfortable. You will go in with the "umms" and "yeahs". It will come out worse than if you go slower. By doing your presentation slower, you will get to a point where it will just flow out i.e. feel natural.

Remember this...
This is Speech Class. The goal of the class is to get you to speak properly and to get you over public speaking. Everyone in your class is in the same position. They all will give presentations. Everyone will have to speak. No dodging it. There will be plenty just like you scared to death. This is your practice for the work place.

As for who to look at... Peak. Just peak around the room as you speak. Don't stare at any individual. Scan the room.

#8 Clak

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:16 PM

The only way to get over a fear of public speaking is to actually do it, which is the point of the class. It will suck, you'll be scared and nervous, but the more you do it the easier it will be. By the time I finished that speech class in college I wasn't nervous at all anymore. Although no one in the class understood my topics either, but that's a whole 'nother conversation.
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#9 fullmetalfan720

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:25 AM

Just do it.



That's the basic point. I was scared of public speaking at one time. So I did theater in high school. After practicing the play numerous times, when I went on stage I was fine. Why? Because I was confident in my knowledge of what I had to do. The more you do public speaking, the better you get. You just gotta do it, and do it and do it again. The first time you might be terrible. You might forget what you're going to say and stammer. But you know what you do? You do it again. And again. And again. And you will get better at it.

Another trick is to just completely desensitize yourself. I was scared of rollercoasters for a while. So when my friends and I were going to a rollercoaster park, I wasn't sure what I should do. Eventually I just figured that I would go on the tallest and scariest ride first, the Powertower. Now this thing goes and shoots you 300 feet into the air, stops, and then let's you drop. On the way up, I was frickin scared. I was shaking and and saying all kinds of crazy stuff. And then I got to the top. And I was just waiting to drop. And I could see for miles out, and all those little people on the ground. It was scary. And then I dropped. And you know what? It was actually kind of fun. I had built up all that fear for really nothing. The ride was actually fun. So after that I went on all the other thrill rides, because I had seen that there was nothing to be afraid of, and that I could just enjoy myself. That's what you gotta do. You gotta realize that you're basically afraid of nothing. Your fear is largely irrational. And if you do public speaking for the first time, know that that is literal the worst it will get. After your first time it gets easier and easier. Nowadays, I very much enjoy public speaking.
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#10 QiG

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:45 AM

I hate eye contact too.. I always look at the spot on the nose right between eyes. As for the speaking, can't reinforce what was said earlier enough, know the material. I freak out in every speech I make, as recently as December. The only presentation I ever killed was on a topic of my choosing (3-4 defense in football).
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#11 Jodou

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:07 AM

Eh, I've never had a problem with speaking to an audience but I will say I love using humor as a tool. It's the BEST pick-me-up for a dull topic or a bored audience. Just don't overdo it though lol.

I will say that the waiting is killer though. I hate having a speech looming and having to prepare for it. Once I'm delivering it's a huge relief.

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#12 Spokker

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:23 AM

Be loud and clear and your hands can shake all they want. You can even pause for a couple seconds to gather your thoughts. Uhm doesn't matter that much. You don't have to make eye contact with anyone. Look at their shirt collar when you are looking around the room. That has been my experience and I aced all of my presentations in college.

2. Watch any episode of "Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole" or any space-related documentary. Realize how very, very, infinitesimally small you are in the grand scheme of things.


Yet the presentation is 30% of your grade and if you constantly bomb them your infinitesimal ass will not be graduating.

Quite the contrary, it is a huge deal and that is all the more reason to take the challenge head on. Deluding yourself is hardly the best way to take on a challenge. It's important, the stakes are high and being nervous is natural but something you have to barrel through like a freight train.

#13 Lieutenant Dan

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:25 AM

Yet the presentation is 30% of your grade and if you constantly bomb them your infinitesimal ass will not be graduating.

Quite the contrary, it is a huge deal and that is all the more reason to take the challenge head on. Deluding yourself is hardly the best way to take on a challenge. It's important, the stakes are high and being nervous is natural but something you have to barrel through like a freight train.


My advice was not to blow it off. The most important thing is to prepare well.

My point was that if the OP "bombs" the presentation (which he won't), it's not like he won't graduate, then turn to a life of crime, drugs, and alcohol and be a homeless bum for the rest of his life.

If he prepares well, the worst case scenario is that he is nervous during the presentation. Not a big deal. He will get a passing grade because he was well prepared and had good information.

This is not a big deal if you look at it in the grand scheme of things. I know it can feel like a big deal (I just went through it myself), but it is not. Reframing the situation this way can help with nerves; it helped me.

#14 CaptainJoel

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 04:30 AM

Talk to yourself in the mirror. Seriously. It works.

#15 Regian

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:11 AM

Practice, practice, practice.

I used to be in your situation before. In high school, I was petrified of public speaking. But after getting a lot of tips from teachers and a few of the peers that would speak to me while nobody else was looking.

Even after a confidence boosting and much moral support, the school's drama director encouraged me to get involved with school plays and such. Believe it or not, I found the excitement that came from entertaining people and making them laugh make my fear of public speaking dwindle.

I used that in my future public speaking classes that came at the end of my high school years and into my college courses. I tried to incorporate some sort of entertainment factor in my speeches to try and get a laugh to break the audience a bit. That always made me feel better and much more confident. For the record, though: Not all speeches should be entertaining. Use as appropriate.

Eye contact is so important. In fact, that was practically drilled into my head the first couple of speeches I did. When I got more confident, eye contact got more natural. Don't be afraid of prolonged eye contact, just spread it out and focus around little areas at a time. You would be incredibly surprised how well having eye contact is when making your speech. Of course, you can always see who's paying attention that way! =D

Today, I host a weekly radio show locally. And while sometimes I tend to get a bit of a mush mouth for speaking too fast, I still enjoy it a ton. Getting behind a microphone isn't the same as being in front of a crowd, per se. However, you know a ton of people could be listening at any given time.

Build up that confidence, relax just a little bit, and be sure to have a nice little cheat sheet for your presentation. A very rough outline with keywords was always something that worked well with me. I just looked down briefly and looked at a very simple sentence or keyword string and the words flowed right out.

Hang in there, man! Go in, be confident, and knock it out of the park!
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#16 pacifickarma

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 07:33 AM

I recommend a visit with Dr. Jack Daniels.

#17 Kylearan

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:31 AM

Make what you're saying - and conveying that information - more important than everything else. Give yourself a reason why you need to tell them.

Rather than concentrating on your fear or self-consciousness, concentrate on who you're telling, what you're telling them, and why. Your need/desire to share the information must supersede any you have about how you look or seem.

If you're worried about how you look or are perceived, your concentration is in the wrong direction. They're there to listen to what you have to say, not you there to await their approval.

Give yourself permission. Don't expect it from them. You won't get it.

Best thing to know: you won't die if you really go for it, and just tell them what you need to tell them. Be brilliant. Allow yourself to kick some ass.

If you are having trouble feeling grounded, press your feet firmly into the ground. Stand strong. Take a deep breath. And don't rush. They are your captive audience. Tell them.

#18 whoknows

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 09:35 AM

Know you're might mess up something and accept it.

No one is really going to care or think about it besides you and probably the teacher since they're grading you on it. How many specific times do you remember other people messing up when talking in front of the class? Probably none. I know I don't because it happens and I don't really care or think about it after it happens.

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#19 hankmecrankme

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:14 AM

Definitely roll into this shit half lit. Shots of whiskey or tequila. Don't be too drunk or you'll slur and everyone will know.

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#20 metaphysicalstyles

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:59 PM

I do tons of public speaking in my employment, and the best thing I have found to deal with anxiety is to know your topic. Having an aversion to speaking in front of people can be virtually crippling. Couple that with being unprepared, and your anxiety level during the presentation is guaranteed to triple. If you know as much about the topic as you possibly can, you'll be more focused on squeezing all the information in within the allotted time period than maintaining eye contact, worrying about what people think, etc. In other words, if you occupy your mind exclusively with the information you're sharing, there won't be "time" to think about the social aspects that cause anxiety. Try to prepare your presentation so that you don't have to rely on a script, or an outline. Want to add some humor? Try not to prepare "jokes" in advance. Instead, just "shift gears" in your "tone" during the presentation, and share the content as if you were talking to your closest friend. Jokes don't have to be knee-slappers. They just have to consist of a tiny bit of wit and a radical difference in "tone" compared to the rest of you presentation.

But this all comes back to my main point... know your topic. As long as you know what your talking about, and have more than enough information to present, the rest should come naturally.
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#21 berzirk

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:42 PM

I've done a TON of public speaking, in front of anywhere from 3-4 people, to a couple hundred. Preparation is key. Most people are going to have a bit of the butterflies, but the way to counter the extreme fear is to know your shit. You're going to give a presentation. OK, learn the stuff front and back. Record yourself doing it and play it back. They might say eye contact, but the way to fake that, look just slightly over the top of the two halves of the room.

Uh, like, um, those are natural parts of speech that most of us likely use talking to our friends. Try to limit it, but don't feel like using those terms invalidates your speech.

At the end of the day, realize that the audience is simply sitting through your talk, until they give yours. You're not being personally judged by them. The pressure is self-imposed. If you can let yourself look beyond that, then you realize that the audience doesn't have any power over you, you have full power, because you're telling them what they are going to hear. They're not guiding the speech.

If all else fails, get halfway through, grab your crotch, drop the mic and walk off. (note, don't really do that).

#22 batman1939

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:04 PM

My first speech class got a D. Second time got an A. Why? Second teacher let me cuss, not for all speechs but most. That let me loosen up and not give a Fuck. And jokes help too. The first introduction speech that you always have to do, I went up and said "my name is Ruben and I'm an alcoholic... (shook my head) oh shit wrong speech. " Got a laugh and just went with it.

#23 elessar123

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 07:09 PM

My face and ears flush easily too. I just ignore it.

I actually came to say the same thing about eye contact a lot of people said. I get extremely uncomfortable with eye contact, so I usually look towards someone (upper forehead), and blur my vision so i don't focus on their face. I do find myself forgetting to look somewhere else though.

I say "um" a lot when I give speeches. No quick solution there. Just try to catch yourself, but don't get too hung up on it. If you do, it'll probably mess you up more than if you allowed yourself to slip some "um"s.

It gets much easier. I had to give presentations twice a month at minimum in grad school, and covered a couple of lectures. Just get your butt up and do it, even if you're scared the first hundred times.

#24 giantqtipz

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 07:26 PM

english isnt my first language and i killed all of my presentations in college. the only way i can gain confidence is by knowing whats necessary about the material.

be curious about the material, and if you're unsure about something, look it up. try to find out as much information as you can about the topic.

then rehearse. rehearse rehearse rehearse. use simple appropriate words. assume your audience knows nothing about the topic.

i remember presenting about the history of the smiley face. everyone loved it haha. some girl wrote that im "absolutely adorable" and invited me to her halloween party on my review sheet. i declined because and told her i had work... when in fact i just wanted to stay home and play some vidya

i still have that review sheet because.. im 4everalone...

but yeah... if i can do it, especially when english isnt my first language, im sure you can do it too.

like i said, knowing the material is key. draft your speech only after you're confident with the material. if you dont know the topic, how are you going to structure your presentation right? youd be lost.




#25 elessar123

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:20 PM

While I agree about knowing the topic, I never bought into the idea of rehearsing. For me, it was better to rehearse only the flow, such as what topic follows what, and when to discuss certain topics, than rehearsing the entire speech. I always did worse when I rehearsed the entire speech, cause if I deviate a little, it throws everything out of whack. The only time I do is for timing, which is rarely accurate.

#26 Josh1billion

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 12:51 AM

I actually came to say the same thing about eye contact a lot of people said. I get extremely uncomfortable with eye contact, so I usually look towards someone (upper forehead), and blur my vision so i don't focus on their face. I do find myself forgetting to look somewhere else though.

This is good advice.

A similar option: if you normally wear contacts, and you're very worried about getting nervous, you could just leave them out that day. You're nervous of how the audience will perceive you; if you're not able to clearly see (and, thus, over-analyze) every facial expression, you may feel more comfortable. When you're giving your speech, if you're like me, you're gauging your performance based on every minor body language cue that the audience gives you, and you're reading way too deeply into them. Taking away that component should reduce your self-consciousness.

This idea has been effective in my experience: while I haven't actually tried it in a formal speech, I've been more comfortable in other social situations when I've had to go contact-less for whatever reason.

(This is assuming you don't have anything crucial you need to see during your presentation, like note cards or presentation slides.)

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#27 monash65

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 01:01 AM

Can't vouch for it myself (and no, I'm not a shill), but I have heard good things about the Toastmasters club as far as getting better at public speaking, together with other people in similar situations:

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#28 Viva Las Vegas

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:38 AM

I haven't read all the responses but my university had a public speaking requirement and I really hate being in front of people. My advice and what I did was to take the class at the oddest time, mine was something like 4:10 and instead of a class of 30 people it was 12. Also instead of giving speeches on anything I cared about I did the most lame possible subjects as the other students were already bored shitless and then I start onto why you should wear a seat belt no one is paying attention.

#29 Finger_Shocker

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:49 PM

I am guessing you have a big FEAR of being laugh at or ridiculed.... And yes people will laugh at you and look at you funny, its part of public speaking or whatever

Once you get over that, you should be fine, unless you lack confidence.. You want to get some P*ss* and have girls like you easily, get over your fear.. You will be laugh at regardless, you just have to thicken your skin.

The best public speakers are ones who see those he/she is talking to as BENEATH him/her and that THEY are the only one that matters.

Better grow some skin, man...

And to the people who says know your material, thats BS!!!! You need to be confident, you could spew BS to your audience, but you need to be able to spew it with CONFIDENCE. You need to make what you say as THE WORD!!!

#30 wquach

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:39 PM

#2 Look at people's foreheads. It will give the illusion of eye contact. 2 seconds per forehead should be enough. Find someone in the audience who is a "nodder" or "smiler," usually it's the teacher and your friends. Their positive feedback will help your confidence. Do a sweep across the room of foreheads (divide the room into thirds and give some love to each third), but when you feel like a freak-out is coming, find your nodders/smilers. Avoid the floor and clock at all costs.


This.

If you're short on time and practice and want to get over the anxiety fast, this is an extremely useful quick tip.

I am terrible at presentations, and had to perform in front of an audience of 200 people for a skit as a host.

When it was time to put on the show, the one thing I am glad I did was stare towards the audience at a level barely above their eyes/heads. It's an excellent illusion to anyone but yourself that you're really focused on the audience, where in fact, at least in my mind when I was speaking, I was pretty much projecting to a large empty room, or at least a room of weird, meaningless entities.

Also another thing that helps is your stance as well.

Stand up straight and tall. Lift up your chest. In this way, you can physically feel a sort of confidence that allows your voice to project wide and far. And this helps to get you on track, or at least to keep talking rather than hit a blank and stop altogether. Talk loud and clear. With the forced effort to talk out there, you're less able to go "umming".