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Readers Respond: How do you handle public speaking?

Responses: 36

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Updated June 11, 2009

Breathe - and have water handy

I can present to sales prospects but am anxious when the audience is peers. Guess it's the fear of judging thing. Was doing OK the other day in an internal meeting: I had the content down, was breathing from the diaphragm, but my mouth ran dry. I let it go on too long and I suddenly couldn't speak. Basic rule I guess: never speak without having water or beverage at hand.
—Guest Atlanta

Will never speak in public

I have only done one presentation in my life and it was a group presentation in high school. My problem is that I get very serious heart palpitations when I get really nervous, there is no way to avoid this problem and I have been trying to deal with this condition for a long time. The doctor said I have to avoid anything that gives me these palpitations and the only time they happen is when I play sports or when I get extremely nervous. If I know I have to do a presentation in class, I will not come that day or I will drop the class if presenting is a requirement for that course. Some people will never be able to public speak and I am one of them.
—Guest John

A Complete Mess

I absolutely crumble to pieces when I have to give presentations. It's truly debilitating. My voice becomes a barely audible whimper, my heart pounds so violently that you can see my chest thumping, my knees feel like they're about to give out, and all I can think about is that I wish I had an ejector button so I could parachute to my car. I'm supposed to give a long presentation in a week and am looking for any possible way out of it.
—Guest Cassandra

What was my name again?

I cannot believe I forgot my name I was so nervous it took me a minute to remember, and when you're up there a minute feels like a lifetime. After my speech I asked a friend how I did, and she said that I did great! People forgot my little mess-up.
—Guest lane

How I Handle Public Speaking

If I'm not completely avoiding it, then I JUST DO IT. I allow myself to feel the anxiety, which for me means extreme nausea, and I keep going. One thing that helps is listening to and singing music that pumps me up and boosts my confidence. When you're singing, you don't have time to think! For me, the anticipatory anxiety is the worse. Once I'm in the moment I start to calm down.
—Guest Tiffany

happened today

In my 25 years with my company I have always have a hard time speaking in public but usually I can get through it becouse I feel I can add value to the topic. But today I was to give a small part of a presentation about a subject I really didn't believe in. In other words I would have had to stand in front of 20 of my peers and basically relate my supervisor's beliefs that I know to be misinformed. I just couldn't do it. I went home claiming illness. I have a hard enough time speaking in public without trying to bs people I respect. Probably not going to help the career.
—Guest jrw

Trust Yourself

Fear of public speaking..I guess it's normal..you feel your heart beating faster than usual, your hands sweat and you get to the point that you forget what you were going to say. I guess the answer is to TRUST yourself and always prepare for whatever happens...that is the key.
—Guest sigh

Start early (as in with kids)

I got over my fear by becoming a Brownie troop leader. The kids were so eager to listen I found it impossible to be anxious - and I even forgot the parents who stayed behind. Eventually I spoke at public meetings for a community project I was involved in. Then I taught a few college classes and not even the one or two bored students could shake me, nor could the ones who challenged everything I said - in fact I enjoyed the sparring. So my advice - start by speaking to groups of kids. Volunteer to read a book to you child's or grandchild's classroom or coach a Little League team or propose a toast (milk, of course) at your child's birthday party. Take it in small steps and you'll be fine. Remember too that everyone is pulling for you to win, and that's a fact. Your discomfort makes us feel bad for you.
—Guest Joni Scanlon

My worst enemy

Public speaking is something I consider to be my number one enemy. Each time I am called to speak before an audience, I am greeted with a heart full of palpitations and my voice like that of a dog whining.
—Guest GUEST RECHAS

FEAR OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

I used to be extremely frightened when I had to speak. My heart would pound, mouth would get extremely dry, face burn, voice tremble. Then I was elected to the office of chaplain in a state organization. Because I am a Christian and feel confident praying, quoting scripture, etc, I felt at home with my subject. When I realized that I had something valuable to share and in this office, people are looking to be uplifted and reassured, it became easier for me. I actually looked forward to speaking. But I think the key element is preparation. Know what you are going to say and what points you want to get across and write it down. Otherwise, even the best speaker will be prone to ramble. Later on, I became president of this same organization and for two years had to speak many times. My preparation in the office of chaplain readied me for this. I say prepare and share. Smile, make eye contact with your audience. Throw out some random questions, tell a short joke. It will go easier.
—Guest Jan

how to deal with public speaking

I totally avoid speaking in public, I don't even attempt to try talking in front of 2 or 3 people, that's how bad my case is. I start sweating and I forget what I had to say, I try to avoid going to parties because I always think people will criticize me
—lalatina

Public Speaking

To answer the question.....horribly! I am working on it, but I get extremely nervous, feel like I'm trembling all over. My hands get ice cold and trembly. My heart feels like it's about to burst out of my chest and I feel like everyone is staring at me, and judging me. Other then that I feel great! I got a presentation tomorrow and been looking up ways to cope. I think the key to getting over it (maybe never completely) is just by doing it and to stop running away from them, which I've done most my life. Also, I've learned that accepting your nervousness and fear instead of fighting it is supposed to help, even though in practice it is very hard to accept the symptoms.
—Guest joe

public speaking and anxeity

I Hate public speaking - it puts the fear of god in me! However, as part of my job I have had to try and get used to it. The best advice I read is that before you go into the meeting try and have the mind set that you are desperate to talk and tell everyone what you have to share. Try and imagine it is the most important thing in the world that you share your information with everyone! Failing that hypnotherapy!
—Guest Jemma

Practice is the key

I am horribly anxious speaking in front of any group larger than 6-7. I get very shaky, the voice cracks, and I have trouble breathing. The key to performing adequately is practice. You need to go through the speech multiple times in front of a mirror. Also, you should tape yourself giving the speech and review the tape. You'll be fine if you do the work and prepare.
—Guest Ted

Just fake it!

When in nursing school, I got the best advice from an instructor on handling patient contact - even if you don't know what you're doing, you have to act like you do so that the patient still has confidence in you. I've found that it applies to a lot of other aspects in my life, such as public speaking. I HATE public speaking, but I can usually get through it by trying to not think too much about it and "faking it".
—Guest Nicole

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