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Thread: PUBLIC SPEAKING

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    PUBLIC SPEAKING

    One of my deep-seated fears is public speaking. I think it's not uncommon at all to have such a fear. I've hated it all my life and I've generally avoided doing it where possible. I'm now thinking of doing something about it, either by going to classes or by seeking out real life situations in which to do it. But it scares the bejebus out of me. On the other hand, it annoys me greatly that I'm hiding from it.

    I also have other deep-seated fears, about not being liked for example, and in some ways I feel that some of these other fears are related to the OP fear.

    I think on the whole I am and have always been quite an insecure person. That said, I don't think I'm crippled by my insecurities. I've coped quite well, and I've successfully confronted some of my fears and insecurities. And I'm much less insecure, in at least a few ways, than I used to be. But this one is still there.

    There was a time early in my career that I dreaded either chairing or speaking up at around-a-table work meetings, but I'm mostly over that, having done it quite a few times. I reckon I could handle being a teacher in a classroom too, even if it were adults in the class. I've coached basketball teams, and still do, and that's ok.

    The sort of situations that I dread are giving speeches, at a wedding for instance, or at an anniversary party or something. The expectation of being witty seems to be especially scary. I think I could give a talk on a 'dry' or boring subject, if I felt I knew enough about it, without too much difficulty, though I'd still be nervous beforehand. But feeling that I'm expected to be witty as well is almost a sort of curse.

    Does anyone else have this fear of public speaking? Or did you once have it but you've overcome it? Perhaps you found that you just had to do it, as part of a job, for instance, and that while it was difficult at first, you became inured to it.

    Or, possibly, is/was there some similar public/social fear or phobia that you have or had that you are either avoiding, coping with, tackling or overcame?
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-26-2020 at 11:06 AM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Does anyone else have this fear of public speaking?
    here!
    Or did you once have it but you've overcome it?
    well, i was hired to lecture the military on our weapon systems, so i hzven't overcome it so much as no one around me gives a shit if i am scared.

    I am nervous every time i speak to more than four people, have been for the last thirty years. Before that i wasnt really allowed to talk to to others...
    Perhaps you found that you just had to do it, as part of a job, for instance, and that while it was difficult at first, you became inured to it.
    not inured. Practiced, maybe.
    I make sure i know the topic, including stuff they may ask me about that isn't in the presentation. Questions seem to be the worst part. I think my fear is not being seen so much as being questioned beyond my expertise. Looking like an idiot, esp. if it's likely someone in the room CAN answer the question.
    Lucky for me, half the time they ask 'why do it THAT way?' and i blame engineers. Who knows why engineers thought this was better?

    And i joke. I have found that the nervousness mostly goes away if they laugh at my first joke.
    If it flops, i am kind of in trouble.
    But it's definitely a phobia, an illogical fear. I won't be fired, they won't rush the podium, no angry mobs... but still i fear.

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Thanks. You have my sympathy, empathy and understanding, etc.

    Yeah, attempted jokes that flop. Aargh.

    And of course, if you're worried about whether a joke might flop, you're probably adding to the chances it will, because your delivery is affected. We're talking confidence here.

    I guess stand-up comedians must find ways of dealing with it. I mean, everything they come out with is either supposed to be witty or be building up to it. For them, there's no 'moving on and doing other non-witty stuff'. The thing about jokes is, there's on-the-spot, during-the-speech/talk, judgemental feedback to cope with!

    My aim, over the next while, is to get to a point where I can look forward to enjoying, and indeed enjoy, giving a future speech at, say, a big wedding anniversary, a big birthday party and my daughters' weddings.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    And of course, if you're worried about whether a joke might flop, you're probably adding to the chances it will, because your delivery is affected. We're talking confidence here.
    Actually, no. For me, i KNOW my jokes are funny. But i have a very dry delivery. They may not know i was joking. For me, though, the biggest problem is that my experience includes a lot of things few others share. So i don't know if I've given, say, a room full of fresh-out-of-college engineers enough information to appreciate a joke about submarine operations.
    But too much explanation KILLS a joke.
    My aim, over the next while, is to get to a point where I can look forward to enjoying, and indeed enjoy, giving a future speech at, say, a big wedding anniversary, a big birthday party and my daughters' weddings.
    Well, i will say, after the initial butterflies, and the rotten bastards' abject failure to laugh at my material, once i get going, it's a very rewarding experience. I have the best job. I do enjoy it, until about an hour before, and a good ten minutes into it.
    But there is a definite thrill to being able to answer their questions, or see the light of comprehension come on, or hear applause. Just have to keep an eye on the prize, which is eventually getting to sit back down.

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Oh, and you daughters' weddings? You'll do fine.
    If all else fails, just make it a love letter to her, ignore everyone else in the room.

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Public speaking is one of those weird things that we feel like we shouldn't be afraid of, despite the fact that most of us almost never do it. It would be weird to have confidence in doing anything you rarely do, and if you did have that confidence it'd likely be the Dunning-Kruger type. I was a high-school teacher for about a year, while I was going through social anxiety and mental health issues. I was nervous as hell for my first lesson, but after a few months it was no problem. It was the experience that did it.

    In 2018 I also had to give a wedding speech to every important person in my life, as the groom, and had anxiety about it for about eight months. What I did was start writing the speech two months early, practice it extensively until I knew it inside and out, and leading up to our wedding I didn't drink much caffeine, and no alcohol at all. I didn't drink at my wedding until after the speech. The experience of actually delivering it was still a bit jarring, but given it was our wedding day I had quite a lot of adrenaline and wasn't that nervous. Because I knew it inside and out I was able to free-style a bit, and nailed it for the most part.

    It might help for you to do something like search 'good parent wedding speeches', that'll give you some guidelines of dos and don'ts. Beyond that recognize that everybody knows that we all suck at speeches, and nobody will be judging you that hard unless it's egregiously disastrous, which it very likely won't be. Something like that happened at a wedding I attended a few years ago - the bride surprised her mom with a 'hey do a speech' last minute and she had no time to prepare. Got up there and got deer in the headlights. Even then, most people said 'meh' and moved on.

    With jokes you could do something like pick a few genuinely funny anecdotes about your daughter, that way you don't have to worry about getting a laugh. Partner and I did our speech together and we alternated between four funny anecdotes, then thank yous, and finally the heartfelt stuff.
    Last edited by rousseau; 02-26-2020 at 03:13 PM.

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    Senior Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    I have a good friend who had a phobia of public speaking. He joined a group called Toastmasters_international that basically works to improve one’s public speaking skills. After several years (he enjoys the monthly meetings) he gave an annual speech as treasurer of a small branch of an organization that was so effective he was offered a position in the national office.

    On looking at their website they seem to have aspects of a rah rah motivational organization, but it might be worth your while to have a look

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    Veteran Member crazyfingers's Avatar
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    The company I was working for in the late 1980's paid to have Toastmasters do lessons at our office. It was pretty good. The main thing I remember was never stand there with your hands in front of your crotch, like Bernie Sanders does. You look silly, as he does. Let your arm just hang by your sides.

    Anyway, I'd guess that I've made over 200 presentations to more than 30 people in my career and I am always really nervous before I go on. After I start I always calm right down. Strange reaction but I thing the big thing is to know what you are talking about.

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    Super Moderator Bronzeage's Avatar
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    One thing to remember about public speaking is, unless people are paying to listen to you, they really don't care how well you perform.

    I've done a lot of public speaking. It really helps to rehearse. You don't need to write it out. A short list of points is all you need. Wedding speeches are easy. Nobody wants a long talk. You'll have a glass in your hand, so that's taken care of. Thank everyone for coming. Welcome the groom/bride to the family. Raise your glass and wish for a long happy life together. Done in about two minutes or less.

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    I rarely have to do any public speaking, but I just can't do the platitudinous/sentimental thing, so I do dry, dead-pan reverse expectation remarks: I say uncomplimentary things but in a way that everyone knows I don't mean it. It works for me, and I like it when the half-assed solemnity of Big Ceremonies gets subverted. I'd like to lead the prayer in Congress some day.

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