I am deathly afraid of public speaking....Please help

Postby Ykaty369 » Fri Nov 11, 2005 1:58 am

I have a serious fear of public speaking and don't know how I have made it thus far. I don't remember when it all started but I do recall starting to have problems starting my junior or senior year in high school. I had your typical nerves back then but nothing I wasn't able to get over. I remember doing a presentation in my English class when I was a senior in high school and I was more nervous then I had ever been. I was having a mock trial defending a supposed murderer and I had a smile on my face throughout the whole presentation. I remember someone asking me why I was smiling and laughing throughout the presentation and I believe I made some excuse.

My fear then escalated even more in college. I wouldn't join a class if I knew a presentation was involved. But then it happened. I had to read something in class and I got choked up. It was absolutely embarrassing. It was like I was crying throughout the rest of my presentation. There were no tears but it sounded like I was crying. I have not been able to get over it since and have avoided such situations. I was forced into some group presentations after that, but I only contributed a word or two, leaving the rest of the talking to my partners.

I am now in my first semester at graduate school and have been offered a teaching position next semester starting in January. The class will consist of 30 to 40 students. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I know I can't turn it down. I would be stupid to say NO!! If I am good at this then my department will probably offer me a Teaching Assistantship for the following year and I won't have to pay for school.

How do I get over this deathly fear so that I can accomplish this? I NEED HELP!!! I have contemplated taking a shot of liquor before walking into the classroom in order to control my nerves, but clearly that is not a solution.

My voice gets real shaky and my hands shake terribly. Can someone offer some serious advice to me? I believe that this is a real fear, like other people have fears of height and spiders. Is there any help for me????
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#1

Postby tomas77 » Sat Nov 12, 2005 12:52 am

Hi, Katie. You are definately not alone. I am suffering the same exact thing. I've read books, and now trying herbs to stay relaxed and calm. But this only has minimal results. The best way I know and am trying is weening myself into these situations a little at a time. Make yourself availiable to small groups and sit in with their meeting. And go from there. Have something written down and read off of it. Reading builds up confidence for when you don't rely on looking on a piece of paper. When you read off the paper remember to look up at them as not to look like your dependant on the written material. I have meetings at my job every week for an hour. But only contribute a little when I know a lot about certain topics. It sucks to be blunt. But I will not give up on trying to overcome this because I hate the feeling that it's holding me back in life. So please don't give up. Fight or flight? Pick fight. I know it's easier said than done but try anyway. PM me if you want and we can compare notes. Take care. If something works for you let me know please. Thanks.
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#2

Postby a_shepherd » Sat Nov 12, 2005 3:11 am

Imagine them in their underwear. It is flawless and almost always works.
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#3

Postby Ykaty369 » Sun Nov 13, 2005 6:31 pm

I have been practicing lately in front of my boyfriend, but that really isn't much of a challenge, because I am not afraid to mess up in front of him. But I figured the practice could help. And believe it or not...I think it might....but only a little. It helps me to come up with the verbage I need but it doesn't help me to get over the fear. I need to find more situations like this where I can practice.

Unfortunately for me my Professor might find someone else for the position because he thinks independent teaching for someone at my level will be too much pressure. Yes, I agree with him, but this is my opportunity to get over my fear. Not to mention that I have to take a class in my program that revolves around a 1 hour talk, so teaching this class would help me with the preparation.

I have bought some Kava Kava pills despite the fact that they haven't been approved by the FDA. I tried one out and noticed that I felt a little more relaxed but I wasn't in the public speaking situation, so I don't know if it will react the same when I am in that situation. I also bought some other herbal pills that are supposed to help with stage freight and I am going to try those today. I will let you know how they work.

As for imaging the audience sitting in underwear.....IT DOESN'T WORK. I don't know who came up with that but they are a complete idiot. I have a legit fear and something as silly is that will not help me to conquer it. Maybe it would work for someone who gets slightly nervous, but that is not what I experience. I HAVE A FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING!!!!!!

If anyone else as any other suggestions please let me know. I really need all the help I can get!!!!
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#4

Postby tomas77 » Sun Nov 13, 2005 10:07 pm

Exactly my feelings.
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#5

Postby Dio Scuro » Sun Nov 13, 2005 11:16 pm

Hello. I used to have the same fear but now I am completely over it. I used to be deathly afraid of giving speeches. Then I had a teacher.

This teacher forced us to do speeches every day. They are called impromptu speeches. He gives you a topic and you have only thirty seconds to come up with a 4 minute speech. Immediately after the thirty seconds you go up there and present. Worst, sometimes you did not know anything about the topic you had to give a speech about.

After doing a dozen of these I am over such fears. When I first began I was trembling and shaking I felt that I was going to pee myself.

The pretending they are in their underwear does not work.

There are different methods for dealing with this fear. So many that I will only list a few that have been known to work for me.

First method: Picture yourself as an actor/actress and you are in a play.

Second method: Green tea. Green tea has a calming effect and it also reduces stress. It calms the nerves along with some weight lost side effects. Long term use should be avoided since hair loss is one side effect. Drink three cups the day before a major presentation. Then drink two cups about two hours before the speech ( make sure to give yourself plenty of time to go to the bathroom ).

Third method: The fear of public speaking in my opinion is caused by the fear of what other people think about you. I say who cares what they think? Arrogant yes, but it works.

Fourth method: This one requires me to know more about your social life. However if you lack basic communication skills then I would recommend that you go up to random people and start having random conversations about whatever is going on in the area. Small talk. This builds confidence and increases your abilities to speak to other people. And since they are strangers then who cares if you mess up.

Fifth method: This requires an alteration in reality which is easily achieved if you know what to do. When giving a presentation pretend that no one else is there. This might give a ghost like feeling but it might work. If you are alone then where does the fear go?

For a teacher, I would recommend making a plan for each day and going by a “script” when presenting the material. Know the material you are teaching inside and out, so that if anyone has questions you are confident that you can answer them.

I have more methods but they get weirder from here.

Good luck.
Last edited by Dio Scuro on Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#6

Postby Pookie » Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:38 am

Hi chaps,

I believe that the fear is of messing up badly. In actual fact it is actually impossible to mess up badly.

Frequently in ordinary conversations, someone will say "I have completely forgotten what I was going to say". The listener will have had the same experience, and immediately empathise and react in a supportive way, and rapport will have been enhanced.

The same applies when presenting to a group of people. The audience has a vested interest in the presentation working. If the presentation is factual, like a lecture, then the audience wants to understand the information being presented. If the presentation is for entertainment, such as a commedian, or after-dinner speaker, the audience wants to be entertained.

Think about how you felt and what you thought when you last saw someone make a mistake when presenting (it happens on the TV news all the time).
You will probably have been pleasantly amused and laughed, the presenter will have been slighly embarassed, then amused. You will have been left with positive feelings about the presenter - they are brave, they handled that well, and they are a nice person, showing humility and humour.

One of the best things that you can do to improve confidence in presenting, is to ask people from the audience for critical feedback afterwards. You will find that it is overwhelmingly positive.

I hope that this helps.
John
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#7

Postby Domino » Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:24 pm

Hi... I'll tell you I can really relate to your experience. This FEAR is absolutely the worst thing to hit my life. I'm the type of guy that has everything going for them, and I evn have many friends and an outgoing personality. However, when it comes to public speaking I have no answer. My fear is real, and even though I am told I look so natural I am trembling inside. It is absolutely terrible.

I have also found the more I search the worse it gets. perhpas my mind is working to hard and it just heightens my awareness. It really stinks.

Okay, another factor is that it only really hurts when it is with those senior to me. my boss, peers, etc...

One remedy I have found is to ask questions of them to get you moving. It is very hard to stand there cold. I try to get them involved, and even hand out prints with grahphs or something - anything to take their eyes of me.

personally, I would give anything to rid myself of this fear.

oh yeah, I do use Passion Flower (herb) but when it comes to my name being called to do the speech - forget it, nothing calms me that much.

I really wish I had a better answer for you.

thanks,
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#8

Postby Ykaty369 » Thu Nov 17, 2005 4:30 am

wow Chaps, I am the same as you. I have many friends and I have absolutely no problem socializing. My problem is when I have to present to my peers or my professors, etc. If I had to present to 3rd graders I don't think I would have a problem. But, with people around my age, and older, I just can't shake it.
It turns out that I won't need to teach this class I was asked to teach next semester. But, I still need to get over this deadly fear. The head of my department said that whenever another open TA position comes his way he will let me know. I NEED TO GET OVER THIS FEAR NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only that but one of the classes that I WILL have to take in order to graduate revolves around giving one speech. I JUST KNOW I CAN'T DO IT!!!
I went to some other students speech this week and just picturing myself having to do the same thing almost caused me to lose it. My heart started to race really fast and my hands started to get real sweaty. If I can't even think about it, then how am I supposed to do it?
I am one of those people who gets a shaky voice, so it is clearly obvious that I am nervous. I can't hide my bodies reaction to the nerves so I don't think I will be able to do this. I have tried that whole role playing thing before but that hasn't worked for me either.
I just don't know how everyone does it.
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#9

Postby Dio Scuro » Fri Nov 18, 2005 8:15 am

I have had so many bad experiences. I remember standing there shaking, not being able to say anything.

I JUST KNOW I CAN'T DO IT!!!

Sounds like you are being too hard on yourself. I want you to make a list of things you know a lot about. Maybe a favorite movie or a book you have just read. Pick one of those topics that you know the most about. Write down three different points about that topic. For example, if it is a movie then three points would be: the characters, the locations, the story. Or three points could be: the beginning, the middle, the end.

Now without writing anything else down, I want you to spend one minute talking out-loud about each of the points. You can do this in front of your boyfriend or the mirror.

If you can do this without trouble, I want you to be proud of yourself. You just made it one step closer. If you do run into problems, repeat it with a different subject. Keep doing it- practice makes perfect.

When you are afraid, your memory is one of the things that you loose. But if your speech is organized so that you only have to remember the main points it means you need less memory. Just fill in the details later, which is what the above teaches you.

I still make mistakes, lots of them. I just do not concentrate on them when I do. I have been known to laugh in the middle of my speech when I make a mistake. Humans are not perfect. Which was very tough for me to understand-I am a perfectionist.

Here is the truth: when you make a mistake, no one really cares. Their human too! Humans make mistakes, so do not be hard on yourself.

I cannot speak for you, but for me the way I got over it was simple: I saw it as a challenge. Something to be overcome. Not something to run away and hide from. That is how I thought. It takes guts just to get up there, let alone complete a speech. If you can just stand up there, in my mind, you are already half way finished. Just complete the rest of the work.

I empathize and understand the fear. But do not let it control you.

I can't hide my bodies reaction to the nerves so I don't think I will be able to do this.

This is going to sound cold, do not worry about your bodies natural reactions. Thinking that way is not helpful. I mostly ignore my body and stay focused on what I am going to say next.

There are things you can to do to learn to control your body, especially in stressful situations. Meditation comes to mind. As well as regular exercise.

Meditation works because a calm mind means a calm body.

Use the time you have now to practice. However, as a very last resort, there is one method that is fool proof. Do not sleep the night before. When it comes time to do your speech you will be so tired that you won’t care. I have done this before and it works. I would not recommend this as a permanent solution though.

Asking the audience questions during the introduction part of your speech is a good method. I have done it before, and I notice an instant increase in energy from both them and me. Even if those question are rhetorical, it is still a good thing to do throughout your speech. It not only helps you remember what you are talking about, but it helps the audience follow what you are saying.

There is one method I have been known to do: before the speech I smile. I don’t know why this works for me but it does.

This method helps with memory and concentration: Put your fingers up to your temples and rub them. In fact, give yourself an entire facial massage right before your speech. Don’t forget to rub behind your ears. It works because it relaxes you and it feels good. Do not worry about people looking at you doing it before your speech, it is to help you help them by giving them a good speech.

One more method: This is a tactic used to fight depression, but I am sure you can modify it for fear. Try repeating the following words out loud over and over again: joyful, happy, calm, relaxed, blissful, warm, loving, caring, sweet, generous, pretty, gentle, wonderful.

I don’t know how everyone else does it either.
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#10

Postby mrlitt » Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:40 am

Ykaty369,

Just know that everyone has at some time been afraid to speak in public, even past President's of the United States have said they are deathly afraid to speak in public, but they get used to it. The more you do it the better you will get. The first time for anything is hard, and this is not going to be any different. My suggestion is taking a public speaking class at a community college as most of the people in there will have the same problems and you can form a support group of sorts to get over your fear, plus you'll get credit for it!!!

Good Luck,
Mr. Litt
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#11

Postby Ph » Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:54 am

Hi

here is a useful article about how to control public speaking fears. Good Luck

Philippa

http://www.stresscure.com/jobstress/speak.html
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#12

Postby phobbic » Tue Jan 24, 2006 1:19 am

hi..katy..i have the *exact* same problem. Please tell me if anything worked for you?? I too am looking for a solution.
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#13

Postby siddhartha » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:50 am

I have often been asked that how I am not at all concerned when it comes to Public Speaking (I know it seems as I am speaking like a very old experienced man, but I am in 12th Grade..)

I have won all the Elocution competitions in our school and all the Ex Tempore, Debate competitions in our school and many interstate titles..

Frankly, let me tell you that before any event I do experience restlessness and fear like any other person.. Let me tell you.. ITS IN OUR PSYCHE. This is nothing artificial or nothing abnormal..

Secondly, all the tips given above will work only when you just try to apply them whole heartedly.. I know ITS YOUR CAREER and this problem needs to be addressed immediately..

OK... First of all let me give you an insight as to my mode of preparation... I NEVER TRY TO LEARN ANYTHING BY HEART.. No, the speeches are prepared by casual though concentrated reading ... Secondly, don't try to run after it all the time.. Remember WORK WHILE YOU WORK and PLAY WHILE YOU PLAY.. When you are reading for speeches make sure your mind is not wandering anywhere else...

Now, when you are preparing for your speech or for teaching, read it about TWO to THREE times but follow it word by word.. On the THIRD time, choose one or two words from each paragraph which are more relavant and are capable of making you remember the contents of the entire paragraph..

Make a list of all those 10-14 words and make a small checklist.. After that look at your checklist and on seeing each word try framing the contents of the pragraph using that word.. You can take the checklist with you while teaching or if the subject is thorough with you, you can do without the checklist too..

Remember, ITS YOU and ONLY YOU. Past experiences don't account much... Its the PRESENT you need to take care of.. Be carefree and if possible try doing YOGA in the morning..

So, just go out ther and show everyone that you are the best public speaker in your frnd group or even in the whole city.. CONFIDENCE pays...

"Carpenters bend wood. Fletchers bend arrows. Wise men fashin themselves" - Buddha

You can and should fashion yourself for effective and wonderful public speaking..

So, Best of Luck... >Regards, Siddhartha
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#14

Postby siddhartha » Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:50 am

I have often been asked that how I am not at all concerned when it comes to Public Speaking (I know it seems as I am speaking like a very old experienced man, but I am in 12th Grade..)

I have won all the Elocution competitions in our school and all the Ex Tempore, Debate competitions in our school and many interstate titles..

Frankly, let me tell you that before any event I do experience restlessness and fear like any other person.. Let me tell you.. ITS IN OUR PSYCHE. This is nothing artificial or nothing abnormal..

Secondly, all the tips given above will work only when you just try to apply them whole heartedly.. I know ITS YOUR CAREER and this problem needs to be addressed immediately..

OK... First of all let me give you an insight as to my mode of preparation... I NEVER TRY TO LEARN ANYTHING BY HEART.. No, the speeches are prepared by casual though concentrated reading ... Secondly, don't try to run after it all the time.. Remember WORK WHILE YOU WORK and PLAY WHILE YOU PLAY.. When you are reading for speeches make sure your mind is not wandering anywhere else...

Now, when you are preparing for your speech or for teaching, read it about TWO to THREE times but follow it word by word.. On the THIRD time, choose one or two words from each paragraph which are more relavant and are capable of making you remember the contents of the entire paragraph..

Make a list of all those 10-14 words and make a small checklist.. After that look at your checklist and on seeing each word try framing the contents of the pragraph using that word.. You can take the checklist with you while teaching or if the subject is thorough with you, you can do without the checklist too..

Remember, ITS YOU and ONLY YOU. Past experiences don't account much... Its the PRESENT you need to take care of.. Be carefree and if possible try doing YOGA in the morning..

So, just go out ther and show everyone that you are the best public speaker in your frnd group or even in the whole city.. CONFIDENCE pays...

"Carpenters bend wood. Fletchers bend arrows. Wise men fashion themselves" - Buddha

You can and should fashion yourself for effective and wonderful public speaking..

So, Best of Luck... >Regards, Siddhartha
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