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public speaking anxiety

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public speaking anxiety

Postby penelope00 » Sun May 13, 2007 4:51 pm

I have huge problem with public speaking and dont know what
to do anymore. The fear is overwhelming, so i my voice shake
and i cannot speak properly.
I would appriciate any advice on overcoming speaking anxiety!
Thanks!
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Postby Lucidor » Sun May 13, 2007 7:24 pm

Make sure you are thoroughly prepared.

Practise at home, reading it at half the pace and much loader than you would instinctively do. At least if you are like me and speak fast to get it over with. :^j If you speak too fast, people won't hear what you say and won't pay much attention, which makes you even more nervous.
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Postby penelope00 » Mon May 14, 2007 1:24 pm

I always prepare myself very good, i repeat my speach 20 times.
But it does not help. When i am standing in front of people i am extremly anxius and cannnot help myself. I feel overwhelmed by fear.
I just dont know what to do anymore!
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Postby Lucidor » Mon May 14, 2007 2:47 pm

Have you been to a therapist?

If you have good self discipline you could try this audio book:
http://www.socialanxietyinstitute.org/audioseries.html

I have listened to the first parts only, but it seems very good.
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Postby DeepShadow » Mon May 14, 2007 6:45 pm

I got a lot of help through Toastmasters, an international public speaking organization. Now I teach public speaking, among other things.

Here's an excerpt from a training session handout I use:

BASICS I: WHAT TO DO

Gestures--Your body should speak with you. If you are coming to an important point, consider leaning forward to add emphasis. If your speech has three important points, count them off on your fingers.

Make Eye Contact--Maintain eye contact with someone in your audience all through your speech. Change from person to person from time to time, and include the people in the back and on the far left and right. You should only glance down at your notes from time to time to keep your place.

Prepare--Practice your speech from a general outline--a few half-sentences that remind you of what should follow next. Short speeches like these should be committed to memory if possible (though not word for word--see below). If you need notes, put them on index cards, and number them just in case. A living speech follows the same general format each time you rehearse it, but it's never exactly the same, in words, gestures or expressions.

Vary Volume--You should project your voice without being unnecessarily loud or shrill. People should be able to hear you at twenty feet away even with people in the room absorbing sound. Depending on what you are saying at the moment, you can to vary your volume and style of speech to add emphasis.

Use Pauses--When you ask a rhetorical question, pause to make eye contact with more of your audience to drive the question home. Other pauses after important points can add special emphasis. Pauses should be from two to four seconds. I know, it seems short, but a four-second pause in a speech is a huge gap.

BASICS II: WHAT NOT TO DO
Fidget--don't make any gestures that don't contribute to your speech. Your entire body should be speaking with you, or it should be _silent._

Make Noises Instead of Words--stuff like "uh, um, er, y'know, like," etc. As speakers, we don't hear these things, so they aren't as painful or galling to us as they are to our listeners. One person at each group can keep an "ah"-bucket--a tin can or other container--and drop a marble in at each unwanted interjection. This draws our attention to them so we can avoid them. The duty of keeping the "ah"-bucket should change from meeting to meeting. A common rule is to give the bucket to the person who committed the most errors in the previous meeting.

Ramble--Begin at the beginning, come to the end, then STOP. It seems pretty basic, but people ignore it all the time. Have a clear beginning, middle and end. Going beyond your clear ending screams "I'm wasting your time and insulting your intelligence." Generally speaking, people in politics have to forgive the latter insult all the time, but wasting their time is something they won't let you do again.

Write Everything Down--Writing it all down leads you to read it verbatim, which makes your speaking dead. It also causes problems with eye contact--more speakers have been undone by looking up at the audience and losing their place than by anything else.

Memorize Verbatim--Nearly as bad as writing it down, memorizing word-for-word leads to rushing, vocal monotony, and an inability to adapt.
We all have a set of instinctive fears: of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, of speaking before a rotary club, and of the words, "some assembly required."--Dave Barry
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Postby sum1 » Mon May 14, 2007 7:04 pm

Consider trying medication for anxiety. If your anxiety is limited to
public speaking, you can take a fast-acting anxiolytic just in time
for the occasion.
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Postby Lucidor » Mon May 14, 2007 7:12 pm

I'm sure those are all great things to do once you get over your fear of having many peoples attention at one time.

It seems to me that what penelope feels in front of the audience is what you feel when you sit in the back. Since she already have prepared and rehersed, the problem must be solved in some other manner. Something that makes her feel relaxed and comfortable when on stage.

In that audio I mentioned they have different exercises. One is to say out lod "Stop! I'm having those irrational thoughts again. I don't want them." every time the fear comes.
I don't know how effective it is, but things like that just might work.
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Postby DeepShadow » Mon May 14, 2007 8:23 pm

Lucidor wrote:I'm sure those are all great things to do once you get over your fear of having many peoples attention at one time.


Very true. I'm sorry if I was putting the cart before the horse, I'm just sharing what helps me to stay calm in front of an audience--control over my end of the situation. I mean, it's not like I don't have anxiety when I'm speaking in public, I just redirect it.

Penelope, if you've already done everything on the list, then obviously you need to look at other things. I only listed those things because I've mentored other sociophobes in Toastmasters, and many of them thought they were prepared when they were actually "rehearsing" counterproductive things that added to their anxiety. Some of the biggest culprits I've seen among fellow sociophobes are memorization and writing the speech verbatim.

It seems to me that what penelope feels in front of the audience is what you feel when you sit in the back.


Again, all very true, and I'm touched that you read and understood my other post about sitting in audiences. :D

Since she already have prepared and rehersed, the problem must be solved in some other manner. Something that makes her feel relaxed and comfortable when on stage.


I'd still recommend at least checking out Toastmasters. The have a whole array of such techniques, many of which are similar in format to Behavioral Therapy. One of the things they will tell you, though, is that they aren't about making your butterflies go away, but about making them fly in formation. In other words, they will teach you how to make fear work for you. If your problem is really a matter of too much anxiety rather than misapplied anxiety, then Toastmasters probably isn't for you.

In that audio I mentioned they have different exercises. One is to say out lod "Stop! I'm having those irrational thoughts again. I don't want them." every time the fear comes.


Sounds a lot like the thought stopping techniques used with OCD. I'd imagine that would be very effective against certain types of SP.
We all have a set of instinctive fears: of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, of speaking before a rotary club, and of the words, "some assembly required."--Dave Barry
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Postby Lucidor » Mon May 14, 2007 8:39 pm

DeepShadow wrote:I mean, it's not like I don't have anxiety when I'm speaking in public, I just redirect it.


Ok, I thought you were one of those naturals.


One of the things they will tell you, though, is that they aren't about making your butterflies go away, but about making them fly in formation.


Wow, that must be a sight to behold. :^)
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Postby DeepShadow » Mon May 14, 2007 9:00 pm

Lucidor wrote:I thought you were one of those naturals.


I was...before the anxiety caught up with me. From an early age, speaking was always a refuge, until the day I had an attack at a storyteller's convention at the age of 21. It was like I was on drugs or something, slurring speech, not connecting sentences, repeating things I'd already said.

The worst part was when the guest storyteller of the convention told me I just needed more practice and I'd be great someday. :P I wanted to scream at him, "I was great, until today! You've only seen me at my worst! Three years ago when I joined this group, I was told I'd be commanding paid gigs like yours in three years! What's wrong with me!"

When I joined Toastmasters, it was about learning to do on purpose what I'd always done by instinct. Plus I had to do it with the still-growing anxiety and the knowledge that I'd bombed before, and bad. I had avoided stages and audiences for about two years by that point, but in the end I learned to channel my fears and make speaking my refuge again.

Whew! Didn't mean to make this about me, Penelope! :oops: Seriously, if anything I've said here makes sense, take advantage of it. If not, there are plenty of other people here who give good advice.
We all have a set of instinctive fears: of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, of speaking before a rotary club, and of the words, "some assembly required."--Dave Barry
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