Public Speaking....

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by SamIchi, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. SamIchi macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    I have an oral presentation on Fri, and I'm not exactly the greatest public speaker. Got any pointers?

    I mean, I've done it a good few times over my years of college, but everytime I get so nervous, like I'm goin to die or sumthin'. I do get through it though. The night before is like hell. First semester I skipped my English Oral Final (I still got a C overall).

    While I'm on the subject of school. Let me ask, what do you guys do when you're completely stressed out with the amount of work. Since the begginning of the semester I've been keepin up with everything, but it's finally gettin to me. This weekend I don't think I'll be able to get all my assignments in. Things just keep piling up :(
  2. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    xanax, valium, ativan, klonopin... any of these will do the trick. ;) drugs listed in order of effectiveness by the way.

    like i've said before, i often find there are chemical solutions to common problems. i'm a cheater like that. :D

    i hate public speaking and quite seriously the only way i've gotten through it was thanks in part to benzodiazepines and denial of what i was about to do. it's embarrassing but true.

    sorry, that's my only pointer. :eek:

    good luck!
  3. SamIchi thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    Hah, totally what I wasn't lookin for but ummm thanks.
  4. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    May 2, 2005
    Take a deep breath.

    Do a few jumping jacks before you go on.

    Bananas help reduce shaky hands. Eat onnna them.

    Good luck!! :)
  5. Peyton macrumors 68000


    Feb 2, 2006
    I'm about to graduate a COM major (and English major) but anyway....

    1. RELAX
    2. The people watching you EXPECT you to be nervous. Prove them wrong.
    3. Look in the mirror for several minutes and ask yourself what you are really worried could happen.
    4. Make note cards
    5. Don't READ note cards.
    6. Rehearse 10 times or until you make no mistakes.
    7. Don't rush your words, you'll end up saying many 'ums' and 'uhs'
    8. If you don't know what to say, don't fill the space with those words, reiterate what you just said even if you have to repeat yourself.
    9. Get your audience to laugh. If you can do this successully early on, your anxiety will drop away.
    10. Go up there thinking these people WANT to hear what you have to say so say it with enthusiasm.
    11. Know that the class doesn't really care how you do, and they aren't analysing you as much as you are. They just want their grade, and to get drunk this weekend.

    Good luck :)
  6. maestro55 macrumors 68030


    Nov 13, 2005
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    Hopefully my advice works, and hopefully I don't sound as if I don't understand what the problem is. I mean the truth is speaking is my forte. In fact this year I got 4th in my district debate meet and first in my distict for persuasive speaking. I will be moving on to regionals later this month. So speaking is my talent I suppose.

    Some pointers:

    #1 If you know what you are talking about, then there is no reason to get yourself upset because you think you will mess up. Have confidence in yoursel!

    #2 So you say its hard to have confidence in youself when you get nervous and mis-pronounce a word or you speak to fast or not loud enough? The best advice that I could lend you in this situation is to go over your speech many times. Understand what you are going to say and say it when you get up and do your speech.

    #3 Organization is a key to a good speech. I got points bumped during my first speech when doing persuasive speaking because I was a bit disorganized at the end. However, if you know your topic you should be able to get up and discuss it with no problem.

    Tips when you get up to where you are going to give you speech:

    - Don't use a podium (even if one is present)
    - Use hand movements
    - talk loud enough to fill the room
    - use eye contact with those you are speaking to
    - hide being nervous with enthusiasm
    - relax
    - double relax

    Good luck!

    What is hard is when you have three judges who are taking notes, and you know in the back of your head that you have one chance to make an impession.
  7. SamIchi thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    Ain't that the truth.

    Thanks for allt he replies :)
  8. muffinman macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2005
    San Diego, California
    if your nervous, dont actually look at the people when you speak. look a little bit above them.

    yeah, as someone said before, make them laugh early. You could do some exotic trip or something, and fall down. one of people i was running against for class president some years back tried that. it was pretty funny... :D
  9. Afro1989 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2005
    I'm in 11th grade and I can't do public speaking at all. It runs in the family. :(
  10. maestro55 macrumors 68030


    Nov 13, 2005
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    Work on the steps that were mentioned above. And you and the OP will become great public speakers.
  11. Peyton macrumors 68000


    Feb 2, 2006
    we sound like motivational speakers
  12. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    How kind of you iBlue. ;) :)

    Looks like we have our very own MR Pharmacist. :D ;)
  13. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040


    Nov 5, 2002
    1. no milk the day of your speech, a tip from a few singers it coats the vocal cords can sort of soften your voice.

    2. practice the whole speech even if you screw up during practice. Often times people become really good at the first half and even have a common screw up point and then they screw it up for real! Go through the whole thing like its one unit or you'll selective memorize things.

    3. try and conquer your fear, having a strategy for this will help with everything. To be honest before every one of my interviews I think of the time I got in my first ever physical fight ( long time ago and I kicked some ass) and I feel really proud and strong. now you won't have that same memory, but think of a time when you were really awesome and try and carry the mood into your speech.

    4. clear. concise. confident. if you master all three of those, you'll probably become president or a very strong leader :).

    5. practice in a mirror and watch for twitches and habits, but don't let them preoccupy you. or better yet with a video camera, its painful to watch / listen to yourself BUT its a great learning tool.

    get over the family thing, nobody else in bill gate's family was the world's richest man ... and it never stopped him (bad example for here) but come on be a self made man, perhaps rise above tradition!
  14. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    The worst grade I got in college was in Public Speaking. I got the grade largely because I was scared to death of how I was defining "public speaking."

    Once I became a teacher, I began to speak publically every day. And I found out not only that I was good at it, but that I was really good at it. I can hold an audience (of kids or adults). The two biggest things I learned:

    1. Believe in your own authority (don't be afraid of being present on the stage)

    2. There's some sort of strange irony that exists between presenters and audience (as though we all know, but won't entirely admit, a performance is at hand). Subtle smiles and glances can suggest and draw out that irony as subtext. In other words, you can use your body to invite your audience to an awareness of just how artificial/constructed your public speaking moment is.

    Trust yourself. Your audience will trust you de facto.
  15. Saluki Alex macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2006
    I may be one of the few people in the world who actually enjoys public speaking (odd, huh?). In fact, I often find that the more people I speak infront of, the easier it is. I've been the host/MC at my school the past three homecomings, I was the MC for our pep rally this year, spoke at Prom last year, and I also ran for State Beta Club President last year. Every chance I get to be infront of people, I jump at it. (okay, enough self-promotion :D ).

    To me, there are a few basic things you've gotta remember.

    1. Project your voice, you want to convey authority, power, and confidence to the audience. This is even easier with a microphone.

    2. Believe in what you're saying, if you don't agree with your speech/presentation, the audience won't either.

    3. Body language is key. Don't be stiff, don't lean on the podium, don't lock your knees. Make use of your hands, but don't over do it. If you can, feel free to walk about the stage, you'll inevitably come across more friendly to the audience.

    4. If you're reading a speech verbatem, practice it a few times before hand in the mirror. Don't over practice though, sounding over rehersed is almost as bad as being under-rehersed. The point is to know the jist of what you're saying, and to prepare for any words that might foul you up.

    5. If you're reading from a note cards, don't rely on them, they're only there to keep you on track, and don't hold them either (you can't use hand gestures if you're holding cards ;) ).

    6. Have a story or anecdote prepared, you might not use it, but if it's applicable to what you're speaking on, you can make your speech more warm and human. What I mean by that is, you can come across as very cold and factual, people will tune that out, keep them interested, relate to your audience.

    7. When it comes to making jokes, use ONLY one or two, and make sure they're funny, practice it out on a friend before hand. And if the joke flops, use a little self-deprication. I also find that if you're going to be funny, play on the audiences reactions, you never no when a joke might present itself, and it's sometimes useful to help lighten the mood of a speech.

    8. Above all else, revert back to 1. And remember, you are in control, you can sway the audience, their feelings, and their emotions by what you say.

    I think people fear public speaking because they fear what the audience is going to think of them, but in reality, the only person you need to impress is yourself. If you believe you are a great public speaker, you'll convey that to the audience.
  16. xsedrinam macrumors 601


    Oct 21, 2004
    Here are a few more to keep in mind:
    1 - Less is more. (Try not to cram too much in to one speech)
    2 - Contextualize. (As best as you can, size up your audience and use word choice, anecdotes, and illustrations which will be clearly understood)
    3 - Be real. (Whether you're extrovert, introvert, fairly knowledgeable or just starting out, be yourself. It will put others at ease)
  17. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    I think it's important to write your presentation how you actually would speak day-to-day – if you go peppering it with fancy phrases you wouldn't normally use, it'll make the whole thing feel more alien and make it harder for you to relax. Remember too that everyone in your class is going to have to give a presentation like this, and chances are they'll all feel just as nervous as you, if not more so. Feeling nervous doesn't make you any less of a good speaker – some of the greatest speakers, actors and the like, even with all their experience and talent, still suffer from terrible stage fright. Just be sure to practice your presentation plenty in the time you've got left, so you know it backwards.

    Good luck for tomorrow, and relax – I'm certain you'll do great. :)
  18. someguy macrumors 68020


    Dec 4, 2005
    Still here.
    Follow the steps in the various posts below if your only fear is messing up or looking stupid. If that is the cause of your nervousness, you really have nothing to be afraid of.

    But, if you are like me, you have a natural fear of public speaking which cannot be fully overcome with practice and experience. For me, public speaking sets off the same reactions in my body as a serious form of danger in nature. I think they call it the flight or fight (or freeze) response. When someone senses danger (real danger, as in fear for their lives danger) they will natural tend to either try and flee if the cause of the danger is too great, fight if they feel they are stronger than their attacker, or freeze and hope to not be seen.

    Well in the case of public speaking, freezing up won't help anything. Neither will fleeing the scene (although this is something I've been known to do... on more than one occasion...). So fighting is really your only option. Due to traumatic events related to public speaking early in my childhood, I cannot fight. I have terrible panic-attacks simply thinking about it (you should see me right now, I'm having to type each word multiple times. Shaking hands + typing = typos...). Now remember that I am comfortable with talking to people in general, and I have no real worries about making mistakes (it's the best way to learn) or being ridiculed for those mistakes. This problem lies in a completely different area in my case.

    The problem is that I am "programmed" - for lack of a better word - to sense danger in a situation where there is no danger. I truly and deeply fear for my life when required to speak in public. I sweat, shake, get very cold, clench my teeth to keep them from chattering, everything but cry (however I wish I could at times). If you want to know how I handle it, I don't. I stay home, pretend I'm sick, anything to not have to do it. It is really taking it's toll on my career. I'm currently talking to a few different organizations that think they can help me, but I haven't decided where to go yet.

    Like I said at the beginning of this post, this may not apply to you. You may just be nervous about saying/doing something stupid, and if so, I envy you. If not, though, then you may come to find (like I have) that it isn't something you can get over alone.
  19. floriflee macrumors 68030


    Dec 21, 2004
    I don't particularly like public speaking, but having taught a couple of classes (one Java and one ESL) I've had to learn to deal with that fear.

    A couple of things that have helped me (which may be points that have already been stated):
    1. I write down as much of what I want to say as I can. I'll then practice saying it out loud over and over again until I practically have it memorized. One advantage of this is that during my "rehearsals" I'll find out whether what I'm saying sounds natural or too much like an essay, and I can find better ways to phrase things for oral presentations. Another advantage is that I get more confident with the material.

    2. I try to find a way to engage the audience. If it's more of a class setting I'll ask questions, which people can then answer. If it's more of a lecture/speech I'll use humor. In both cases I'll try to use some form of visual--be it a Powerpoint, written list on the board, picture, or prop. This could potentially put more attention on your visual and less attention on you, which may help you to relax.

    3. Remember that if you screw up it's not the end of the world. Sometimes making a big mistake during your speech will help you realize that you can get through this and you will still be okay. So your classmates might get bored during your speech. Who cares? They'll forget about it shortly after it's over, and I doubt they'll think any less of you.

    Good luck! I'm sure you'll do great!
  20. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Damn I need to get more sleep. This is what I read this thread title as...
  21. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    She speaks the truth. :D
  22. SamIchi thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    Thanks for all the replies, gives me a confidence boost. :D
  23. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    If you have to use slides (sometimes they're required) keep them minimalist. There's nothing worse that a speaker who simply "reads" the slides. Have a couple of bullet points, but never fill the slides with text.

    Many of the responses here are very good - having spoken in front of a number of crowds of strangers in the past at seminars, etc., I've had my share of wobbly knees the night before, or even up until the speech.

    But once you get into it, that all melts away, especially if you're confident in what you're saying and know your material. Just be yourself.

    One note on the "say something funny" comment - unless you know it's funny, be careful. While it can be a great boost to have people laugh at a joke, it can be no fun to tell a joke that nobody thinks is funny.

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