Presentation Fear

  1. For those who do not know, I'm about to start pre nursing in August, only taking pre reqs for now. But I am scared to death of public speaking!! Especially with such a big class, I use to skip high school because of this issue. I've never over came it, I've only avoided. I want to know how to stop being scared! How do I stop worrying about people's opinion of my speaking and remembering what I'm even supposed to say. Skipping is definitely no option!
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    About mrskrobbins

    Joined: Jun '13; Posts: 19
    from US


  3. by   Marshall1
    Is one of the classes a speech class? There is a group - Toast Masters - that you may want to look into. I don't know alot about them but I know a few people who in the past used them to help w/the issue you are having trouble with. You could consider CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) - may help.
  4. by   jadelpn
    You are no longer a high school student. A little older, a little wiser. See if you can get into a public speaking class (even if it is adult ed) this summer. Once you do this a couple of times, it will get easier. I get more worked up with having to present a power point, remember to click to the new slide and try to speak too. But it DOES get easier. I am a HUGE hand-out fan. Give the class something to look at, to read along with, then I don't feel as it I am being "stared" at.

    Literally, get your girlfriends together, or get your family together, and write something up that is fun/funny and practice speaking in front of people you know. You can also get involved with an interest group of something you love (book club comes to mind) where there is a lot of people who have their own input into things, there's a lot of interaction, and you get comfortable talking about something that everyone may have a different take on, but comments are encouraged. Look around at this group and hone in on someone that speaks well. Think about why you like this person's style. Try to incorporate it in your style.

    With a number of public speaking venues, (not all, but some) you just need to be passionate about the subject. There's no "right or wrong" on a number of issues, just your ability to present it with conviction. Others want facts, and studies, and I would graphically organize those presentations.

    Good luck, you got this!
  5. by   LoriRNCM
    Very good advice, jadelpn. I am alot older than you but was painfully shy as a kid, so when I had to take public speaking in college I was sure I would die. But I survived, passed with a B, and even got an award for best opening sequence in a speech I did on dreams. I used humor when I could, followed the PPs advice above and used handouts, and I also looked just over the heads of people in the class when I was talking so I wouldn't feel like I was being stared at. It helps to remember that everyone is going through the same thing. Not many people actually enjoy public speaking until they get good and relaxed doing it. Fast forward a couple decades and I was in my intro biology class giving a final presentation with people half my age. I spent alot of time on my power point, it was twice as many slides as anyone elses, but it was interspersed with quick humor slides relevant to the subject as well so it didn't drone on. I got an A on my final project and it wasn't near as nerve wracking as my public speaking class was. You can do it by reminding yourself you are not the only one suffering through it.
  6. by   Havin' A Party!
    I've found the key is to be prepared. Know the stuff, get into it, and you'll forget you're in front of the group after a minute.

    So have that intro-minute well-rehearsed!

    Also show up where your presentation will be held the day before, so you'll be familiar with the surroundings. Have all your props ready to go... test them beforehand.
  7. by   HouTx
    Fear of Public Speaking is reported to be the #3 fear - just behind the 'natural' fears of loud noises and fear of falling. So, you're not alone.

    I have 'coached' a lot of people who need to improve their ability to speak in public. It's an important skill for many types of jobs. I'm an educator; communicating with groups is just part of the environment for us. One of the most commonly expressed aspects of this issue is fear of making a fool of yourself or doing something that will incur a negative reaction from your audience. Is this the case with you? If so, you will overcome this with experience. In the meantime, I encourage people to just pick out one or two 'friendly' people in the group and focus on them. It helps if they are in different areas of the group. This loosens up your body language & line of sight - so you are not looking at only one spot. If you're looking from side to side, it appears that you are including everyone.

    I am not a "rehearse" person. I frequently use slides with 'triggers' (pictures, graphs, models, etc.) or bullet points that I just expand on. I never try to follow an exact script of any sort because it's just not natural and you can get completely flustered if you 'lose your place'. Remember to take deep breaths once in a while. Allow some "air" in the presentation rather than trying to race through your presentation like an auctioneer. If you don't have a clock within sight, ask a someone to keep you in touch with how much time you have remaining. They can hold up a sign or just fingers to indicate 10 minutes...5 minutes...

    Relax. Your 'audience' wants you to succeed, especially if they are your classmates. It will be their turn soon.

    I'm going to give you a 'never fail' humorous intro statement to loosen up a tense atmosphere - feel free to use it. "Hello, I am _____. For the next _____ minutes, my job is to talk & your job is to listen. But if you get finished before me, please let me know".
  8. by   Havin' A Party!
    Good post, Hou!
  9. by   Overland1
    When addressing a group, think of it as similar to speaking to one person... just more people. Your presentation tells a story and the audience most likely wants to hear (and, in the case of visual aids, see) that story.

    Speak deliberately and in a friendly voice... don't go all "school marm" on them by treating them as lesser beings. Think of them as friends and acquaintances.

    Do not stand with your feet together... bad form that sets you up for wobbling.

    Do not stare one one part of the audience; scan the entire audience slowly - eye contact is a good thing.

    When asking a question as part of the presentation, it should sound like a question. Conversely, when presenting a statement, it should sound like a statement.

    If using visual aids (i.e., PowerPoint, etc.) carefully check spelling, context, and grammar for accuracy before the presentation and while practicing... you will practice and review your material beforehand, right?

    Of course, do not say, "um" (with whatever number of m's), "uhm", and the like... save those for typing stuff on the Internet where many do not care. Again, you have facts and/or ideas to present; state those points and back them up with verifiable facts, and you will have the audience in the palm of your hand.

    Now, go and kick booty!