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Thread: Public speaking

  1. #1
    Oct 2008
    sunshine state

    Public speaking

    i hate public speaking! i cant get in front of the board of commission for nuttin! help me get over this so i can further my career!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Feb 1998
    Greensburg, Kansas
    It really is all about experience. Get as much as you can. Join a club and become an officer (they are all desperate for volunteers). Officers give reports. Find or start a Toastmaster's club. Volunteer to read/pray at church. After 30 some years at this game, I am still nervous as hell...but only the people who really know me can tell now.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Emerald Coast
    During my first several months of giving public presentations, I was a nervous wreck. But after that, I settled down and got to the point where I actually enjoy this part of the job. Some would say it's ego. My advice? Just do it and you'll eventually get comfortable and it will all seem routine.
    Habitual Offender

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
    Nov 2006
    Rockwood, MI

    Fat Cat

    I am lucky I have never had this problem, a lot of other problems but not this
    What I have noticed over the years is that the people who belong to Toastmasters give excellent presentations
    I also know people that when they were promoted that was part of the promotion that they join Toastmaster and they never regreted it

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    Are your presentations about known questions? In other words can you make flash cards or pre-write a presentation and practice that first to get more comfortable with the material. Public speaking isn't really what most people fear it's not having an answer or the right answer. If you prepare enough and are comfortable with your material you should be fine, remember noone knows it better than you at that moment.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    I am with RichmondJake on this. I like getting up to make a presentation. The best part is he questioning afterwards. It takes practice. The more you do it the more comfortable you will be, the less preparation you will need, and the better you will become.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Sep 1999
    400 miles from Orlando
    Ugh. This is my weakest point. I'm terrified of public speaking. And I am bad at it. I give the Jack Webb, just the facts ma'am report. I was always jealous of the planners who could joke around or be casual with the commission.

    The only advice I can give is, you have to get to know a new board. I was terrified the first time I faced a new county commission because I didn't know their personalities and interests and had no clue what questions they would ask, but you learn that quick. Have good notes and read them verbatim if you're not comfortable ad-libbing. They can't fault you if you're concise and know what you are talking about. Just don't do the "um" thing a gazillion times and don't be shy if you don't know an answer.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
    Jul 2002
    Wellington, NZ
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    After 30 some years at this game, I am still nervous as hell...but only the people who really know me can tell now.
    I did a course on 'dynamic presentation skills' and the two main things i took away from it were that people can't usually tell how nervous we are, and that it's okay to pause, or make a correction if you stumble, or ask for clarification of a question, because we're all human and it's okay to take your time to get back on track. We all had to be videoed and then rate ourselves and others when they were played back, and we were all our own harshest critics, by far!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    I used to be an EXTREMELY shy kid and even into college, the thought of speaking in front of others was terrifying. Now, I really enjoy public speaking, though it still makes me nervous (sometimes very). I don't think that will ever change.

    I think a big factor for me was living abroad for a year. Being in Uganda shortly after the country had opened up again to the outside world, I was conspicuous everywhere I went. When I went to work in the mornings, I sometimes had a crowd of - no lie - 20 30 school kids following me and yelling "Yes, muzungu! How are you?" Managing all of this on an emotional level helped me really live more comfortably in my skin. I had no choice as I was being watched pretty much all the time, being such a novelty to so many.

    Now, I'm not saying living abroad is the only way to do this, of course. Upon my return, I became more comfortable with public presenting, but the key for me has been practice, practice, practice. I typically rough out a presentation and then rehearse it again and again until I know the flow of topics in my head (I still keep paper on hand but rarely use it). I practice in the shower, in the car, etc. The more I know the material, the more comfortable I am, the more convincing my points are (because I KNOW the material and can convey that sense instead of reading it from a page). It also helps me practice different ways of making the same points,so it sounds more conversational and illustrates that you really know the material.

    I also find it easier when I am talking from visuals, but this is not always possible. I almost never put text in my power point presentations (when I use them), but simply talk to pictures, diagrams and maps. The images then serve as my topic headings - like an outline. I'll sit in a coffee shop and run through the slide show, mumbling to myself for practice, too. There are often other people mumbling to themselves for other reasons, so nobody seems to notice...

    Another thing that really helped was some theater training. I have only been in one play (I was not very good). But I have also taken two short workshops on physicality (how to hold your body, find your gravitational center, move about, etc.) and speaking (breathing- including calming your nerves, projection, eye contact,etc.) These were both just half day workshops, but they were hugely helpful to me. I'm sure most university continuing education programs have something like this or a public speaking course which may cover similar material.

    As I said, I still get terrified, but when you know the material and get up there, you just take a deep breath and it all unfolds rather magically. Practice, practice, practice.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10
    Dec 2006
    I did speech and debate in high school and college, specializing in limited prep speaking (extemp and impromptu), two Model UN conferences, and was in a short-form comedy improv troupe for 2 1/2 years in college. I think the improv really helped me look at things in perspective: there were plenty of times where the audience made me speak in languages like german, farsi, urdu, pig latin, roman numerals, esperanto, southern, tourettes, braile, heiroglyphics, giraffe, and middle french. I have had to kill off characters on stage with weapons ranging from a huge paper mache roast turkey to a giant martini glass made out of foam I had to portray characters ranging from a monopoly addict to a squid suffering from dandruff to someone who repeats the entire human life cycle every 30 seconds (my favorite). So much of improv was just outright bizarre that a regular professional presentation seems very tame.

    Speech and improv helped me think on my feet, communicate effectively with the audience, as well as b*llsh*t toasts, speeches, eulogies, and presentations. I think my biggest weakness is still eye contact. I look directly above the person's eyes rather than into their pupils, although I have been trying to correct that weakness. I plan on joining another improv troupe in grad school if I have the time.

    Now if only I could play a musical instrument in a recital without choking up.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 13 Oct 2008 at 12:21 PM.

  11. #11
    Apr 2008
    American South
    When I was a senior in college, I had to write a thesis. I presented it in class on a Monday. On Wednesday night, the professor called me at home and told me that I had been selected to present my thesis (along with two other graduating seniors) at a 'gathering' the next morning. (Being a transfer, off-campus living student, I didn't know much about school traditions and the like.) Anyway, so I wander to the hall where the thesis presentation is to take place and waltz in to see somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 people gathered (school administration, professors, local dignitaries, students, etc.).

    I had spent very little time on the thesis and did not have any extraordinary knowledge of the subject matter.

    Anyway, as I'm walking to the front, my adviser catches me and tells me that there will be an opportunity for audience questions after all three thesis presentations.

    So I took a deep breath, stepped up to the podium, and talked. And I have no idea what I said. I do remember that I was terribly uncomfortable with the microphone. When the q and a session started, I stepped away from the podium and found myself in the center aisle fielding audience questions and answering as loudly as I could so that everyone in attendance could hear.

    The whole experience was surreal.

    I have not had a problem with public speaking since that time. I still avoid microphones when I can, though.

    Advice: (This got me through the above experience.) When speaking, find one or two (or more) people in the audience who seem receptive. (It's ok to plant a person in the audience to serve this purpose.) Look at the audience as you speak. If you come to a scowler or someone who throws your concentration, immediately look back to the receptive/sympathetic person for reassurance. For me, it works every time. It's ok to pause, to order your thoughts, to refer back to your notes. No one expects (or should expect) a planner to be Dale Carnegie.

    Best wishes.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
    Jan 2006
    Yo momma's house!
    Quote Originally posted by jack115 View post
    i hate public speaking! i cant get in front of the board of commission for nuttin! help me get over this so i can further my career!
    Knowledge is power. The more you know and understand about your subject, the more comfortable you will feel. With experience, you'll learn to filter information and anticipate potential questions from your audience.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
    Aug 2002
    Quote Originally posted by vagaplanner View post
    Knowledge is power. The more you know and understand about your subject, the more comfortable you will feel. With experience, you'll learn to filter information and anticipate potential questions from your audience.
    That is good advice . Before a particularly difficult presentation, I run through the worst possible questions that could be asked and figure out how to answer them. When they come up (rarely), I'm ready.

    I also suggest to new planners that they sit in the back and watch the Council, Board, etc. for a few meetings before it is time for the presentation. You can get a better idea of how informal or formal they are, who the talkers are, and the general format so that there are fewer surprises. Plus, you'll have a chance to see other nervous presenters and realize it's not that uncommon. Hang in there - It'll get easier over time.

  14. #14
    Remember, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. Really, you are the expert and everyone is terrified you might point out something they said was wrong.

    The best advise is to do it as often as possible. It does get better with time.

    Finally, never, EVER, eat spinach before a public presentation, everyone will notice the little green thing between your teeth (just trying to cheer you up!)

  15. #15
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
    Jul 2003
    Down by Dun Ringill
    Blog entries
    Give Toastmasters a try. I joined to improve my skills and stayed on because it got to be fun. Though there are those weeks I would rather stay in bed on Monday morning I go. I have friends there. I hear good speeches and Table Topics helps you think better on your feet.

    There are probably a number of clubs in your area, meeting at different times and different places. I go Monday morning at 7 a.m., jump starts my week.

    Try it. The people are very supportive and offer useful guidance.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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