The Lounge
Moderators: nomoreexcuses, spoiled_candy, Mollybygolly, peaches0405


63 Replies (last)

I can relate, I have had pretty bad social anxiety in the past as well. I had to take a speech class and at the beginning of the semester, I went to the professor before class and told him about my problem. He gave me a list of suggestions of things to try and they all helped to varying degrees and they are pretty much what all of the previous posters have said already. 

The two that helped me the most are . . .

1. If at all possible, go first. If you talk to the instructor prior to class and explain your situation, they may let you go first, that way no one else beats you too it. Its best to go first because you don't have to follow anyone, you don't have to sit there and dwell on being scared. 

2. Before my first speech, I simply told the class that I was terrified. Now, in a business setting that may not be the best idea. But in the classroom setting, I think its very appropriate. I found it very liberating that everyone knew I was scared. That way, I wasn't preoccupied with hiding all my nervous ticks. By the end of the speech, I was still uncomfortable, but I survived and it was a huge ego boost. 

From then on, I have never been out right scared prior to a public speaking situation. I still get nervous, but the first time is the hardest. It will get easier and you will learn tools to cope with your nerves. 

You'll get though it and at the end, you're going to feel really good about yourself. Until then, just focus on knowing your material front and back. 

I mostly conduct virtual training, but occassionally have to speak in front of a group and I never quite get used to it.  I too have social anxiety and can relate.  I have found that presentations are like going to the dentist or getting a shot.  It's tramatic right up until you realize it doesn't actually hurt and it was over pretty quick. Tongue out

  • Don't read your slides.  They should be a visual compliment to your speech not a duplication of it.
  • Document your speaker notes.  Doing this will help you remember.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  And do it outloud, not in your head. 
    • Sit at your PC and talk through it slide by side. 
    • Try just the speech portion in front of a mirror, minus your slides to get a feel for standing while you talk.  Practice looking around the room.  (I tend to look at people's hair or their shirt collar or between two people and I don't linger my eyes in any one place long. The audience feels like you are looking at them even if you aren't).
    • Go back to your PC and practice your timing per slide.  Use a timer if you need to.
    • Even if you don't memorize your speech word for word, if you practice out loud often enough, you'll remember your talking points well enough to get through.
  • Don't drink much caffiene before your speech or anything that might inadvertantly contribue to you feeling anxious.  Have a healthy lite meal before hand.
  • Have a bottle of water handy.  A good time to pause for a sip is when you feel flustered or need to pause a moment to collect your thoughts. 
  • Shake yourself off before your speech, literally.  Get loose.  Be casual.  These people are no different than you.  Each one imperfect, including your instructor.  Treat them like friends instead of judges.
  • If someone interupts you or asks a questions you aren't sure of the anwer, just tell them you aren't sure and you'll be sure to get that information to them later.  Ask if anyone else is interested in the answer as well.  You can't be all knowing and shouldn't put that kind of pressure on yourself, but you can show your audience you care.
  • And smile.

Practice will you have the fundamentals of your talking points down.  You will probably still feel nervous and that's OK.

I have been right there with you. I used to get so nervous just thinking about chiming in during a classroom discussion that my heart would race and I was terrified. Standing up in front of a room of people? Forget it.

I have now given dozens of talks, and I get good feedback too. The things that help me are:

1. Spend a lot of time on your slides so that you are proud of them.

2. Really think through the organization of your presentation. Write an outline.

3. Write a script, and practice it at least 3-5 times. Time yourself. Get very comfortable with your slide transitions, so that it naturally follows when you say a certain thing that it is time to change slides (goes with #2). I am not saying read off the script when you actually give your talk, but you'll be much more comfortable with what you are talking about.

4. Remember that probably nobody else in your class is comfortable either. You all have to do it, that means you're all in this together. They are not judging you. And your teacher knows that everyone is nervous.

5. Remember that even if you totally screw up what you are saying, all you have to do is continue. It is NOT the end of the world if you mispeak, or trip, or laugh nervously. It is no big deal. Also, I second what someone else said about you know the material best -- if you forget to say something, only you will notice. Carry on.

6. Remember that it is just 10 minutes of your life and the sooner you get it over with the happier you will be (agree with others who said talk to your teacher about going FIRST).

You can do this! Your enthusiasm and energy about your subject will carry you through.


ETA: triciapgh said it better than I did!

preparation will protect you. i think, if you're nervous and worried about being able to remember, up your practice to three times a day (see overlearning). 

on thursday, don't have the whole script in front of you, it'll just be confusing under pressure. by then you should be able to refer to just keywords in your notes to recall it.

again: breathe, and speak more slowly than you think you need to.

everyone makes mistakes. i've never seen or done a *perfect* presentation. seriously, it's no big deal. expected, even.

small note: when you're splitting up your script, aim for no more than three points per slide - better to have more slides than a wall of chunky text that people can't read. will help you pace yourself, too.

print out the slides so you know what's what, esp if you're using lots of images.

you'll be great!

I like going in thinking of the end of it. In 10 minutes, it'll be over and the world will go on, and you will live your life and never have to think about it again. Just know your stuff- what you are going to say (so no "ums" ... Always hate those), and teach your class all about your person! And no offense but no one will be holding on your your every word (I was an art history major btw).. Just make it fun and interesting with lots of pictures (less info on your slides- most people appreciate visuals while YOU talk) and tell them what u know- like you're talking to friends Good luck! :)

I recently had to give a presentation at work.

My initial reaction was a huge lump of nerves in my stomach. Then I remembered that everyone else would be doing a presentation too, so they were probably just as nervous as me and while I was doing mine, I bet they were were thinking that theirs was up next / soon.

In my case, I didn't get to choose the subject or the content, so really it all came down to presentation skills.

I only had one day to prepare, so I read it through until I felt confident I'd got the facts straight and then made my own notes and practised aloud using them a few times. I thought of some questions I would ask if I was in the audience, so I was ready for that when people spoke up at the end. 

Whoever said speak slowly is right. Speak much more slowly than you think you need to, especially if there is a lot of factual content. I talk fast anyway, but when I am nervous I talk lightning speed and no one can follow what I am saying.

That you are enthusiastic about your subject will help you a lot. That will help you to get a natural flow (once you start and feel confident in your subject you may relax anyway) and you will be able to point out additional detail or points of interest much more easily if you know your subject that well.

By the time it was my turn to present, I had done yoga in the morning to calm me down, took a few deep breaths before beginning, and then joked about my nerves when I got up there, (something about managing to get up there without tripping over my feet so that makes a good beginning). I tried not to look directly at people (causes more nerves) and make my delivery as natural as possible; not seeming like I was reading so much... more like I was just telling someone I knew, about something they wanted to know.

I gesticulate a lot when I talk normally, apparently this makes me seem very enthusiastic about everything. That was the main comment I got from people afterward, that I seemed enthusiastic and animated. They noticed that I didn't read directly from my notes (just glanced a few times to keep myself on track) and that I seemed relaxed.. Ha! Little did they know but I felt great/ relieved afterward.

Anyhow, I survived (yey) and you will too.. this is a big step in building your confidence, so embrace the opportunity (don't think too much about your nerves) make sure you are prepared and try to remain focused and calm. Good Luck!!

Fit all your notes in ONE sheet of paper. Put things in a list of the exact order that you want to speak. Bold each item that requires a slide transition. Slide your finger down the list as you speak so if you encounter a question or decide to go for an impromptu elaboration, you won't lose you place. Limit each item on your list to 5 words or less. They should be nothing but memory joggers.

Practice your delivery with a stop watch until you get it right.

Last and most important one tip: Glance your eyes every where in a manner as if you are in agreement with them already but make your presentation only to Andy Goldsworthy who happens to invisibly stand at the back of the class. Retell his art to him in a voice just loud enough to him to hear and no more. If you can make it believable and personal to Andy, everyone else would buy it as well.

cripes. maximally efficient. masterful.

Well I can see you've had lot's of practical advice already.

All I'm going to say is that your half way there in you op. You have an enthusiam for the subject you're presenting. Believe me, having sat through zillions of presentations, I'd rather listen to someone who's talking on something they know, then some polished keynote speaker who's just boned up a week or two ago. I know all the techniques, I want to be enthused!

So go and "rock" Captain Bunny! You can do  it.


Just chiming in with a good luck! You'll do great!!


Original Post by cptbunny:

Thank you guys!

With my nerves, no matter how much I have memorized, my brain goes completely blank. So I was going to literally write a script (not in exact detail words - but in caveman kind of speak to remind me) in case this happens, is that ok?

I think what makes me the most nervous is that I have to stand in front of the class, slightly to the side of the projector screen. Feeling exposed and vulnerable. It would be nice if all the lights were off, the room doesn't get pitch black but dark enough where I'd feel "shielded" and I'd still be able to see my notes. :/

She set us up in groups to go. First group of 6 is on Tuesday, I am one of the 6 on Thursday (#3 actually, but I'm going to email her after this post to ask to go first on Thursday).  I like that I am on Thursday so I can see what people do on Tuesday... and I can alter my presentation if needed.

Andy Goldsworthy works with stuff off the land. He's a land artist. Do you guys think it would be weird to bring in like 6 little bags filled with stuff he would use? I'd give a bag to each row (I think it's 6 rows) of desks and they can just pass it along. I mean, it's nothing special, but I read it's a good way to distract people in a good way.

What do you guys think?

Thanks so much guys. I'm a ball of nerves. I can't wait for Thursday evening... when I can finally sleep properly!

Show them the bags and let them see the content afterward while you are entertaining questions but don't let them be passing along while you are presenting.

Oh wow, just remembering who he is, and that I've actually seen an exhibition of his work (this one)! Loved it!

I think actually being able to smell earth, wood & other materials would add to it, for sure. I also think a dark room would create atmosphere,  maybe help suggest a bit of the immersive experience (esp if you could project against a massive wall vs a screen), as well as shielding you... ask for it, why not?


I totally think you can pass out the bags of fun to distract them. I do the same thing when I feel too exposed. Soemthing about the class changing focus really helps me out.

BTW bunny, that's a really creative, fun way to do the presentation. Great idea.

i wish we Loungers could see your presentation, bunny....can you youtube it for us? :)

Original Post by cptbunny:

Thank you guys!

With my nerves, no matter how much I have memorized, my brain goes completely blank. So I was going to literally write a script (not in exact detail words - but in caveman kind of speak to remind me) in case this happens, is that ok?

I think that's totally ok. Whenever I have to speak in public, I write out the speech - otherwise, I'm known to ramble.

I had to google to remind myself who Andy Goldsworthy was, but once I remembered... I love his stuff. There's one where it's a bunch of stones arranged to look almost like a chambered nautilus. So cool.

good luck bunny. you got this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I use to hate hate hate public speaking.  It caused a great deal of stress as well.  I'm not so bad anymore.  Why?   Because I have changed my way of thinking. 

The biggest tip I have is to remember this is just a 10 minute presentation.  It's just a presentation.  It's just a day.  Just a class.  Just a grade.  It's just one event.  Don't sweat the small stuff!  Try and think of something bigger, then compare it to this presentation for perspective. 

Second, remember what a great person you are.  Bunny>10 min presentation, yeah?  Repeat this over and over.  Why? Because it’s true! 

As for tips, make sure to speak slowly and look at your audience.  For me, I speak quite fast by nature and I have to really work on speaking slowly and taking breaths.  Make sure to smile!

It also helps to go through the whole presentation in front of a mirror.  If you are super prepared, then all you have to work on is the breathing! 

You will be fine!!  Remember, you could always be lost in Canada about to be eaten by bears!  Seriously.  Wink


63 Replies (last)