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Public speaking fear

Discussion in 'Anxiety, Panic & Agoraphobia' started by emilyloohoo, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. emilyloohoo

    emilyloohoo Newbie

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    Hello all. I have this dibilitating fear of public speaking, even "group" speaking. It really got out of control last year in one of my college courses. I had to give a presentation for a grade. I got up there and started to have a panic attack. I had to leave the class before I passed out, literally. Ever since then I have panic attacks periodically. Because of this, it has prevented me from going back to school and obtaining a degree. Now I fear that I will be in this dead-end job forever (I clean for a living). I don't know what to do. I'm really at a lost and I can't seem to overcome it. I'm so tired of people, who don't have this fear, telling me to just get over it, or to try to face my fear. But who wants to pass out in front of people? Not I. Anyone will similar experiences have any advice? Thank you all.

    ~Laura:prayer:
     
  2. NewCovenant

    NewCovenant Regular Member

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    I believe that God literally delivered me from this phobia. I was so terrified of speaking in front of people that I would talk to my teachers when a report was due and tell them I would gladly take an F for the assignment if they wouldn't call me to speak. Within a few years of this, some miracle occurred and I was able to not only speak in public, but I gave a presentation in French, which I do not speak, and several in Spanish, which I do speak, just not that well. Now I speak in public quite regularly, in fact, I perform wedding ceremonies as part of my ministry (sometimes in front of hundreds of people). I can't give you a formula for getting over the panic, because when I was scared I was terrified, and nothing anyone told me made me feel any better. But I do know that there are things you can do to ease the stress. You should know your material very well; anticipate questions and have ready answers; practice speaking in front of a mirror; go over your materials until you've nearly memorized it, that way you're not just reading to your audience. When you look at the audience, don't try to look people in the eye -- look at a point slightly over their heads. Have ONE funny illustration to share to break the ice, unless you happen to be speaking at a funeral. If you are well prepared, it should ease the stress. Get a good night's sleep the night before. Make sure you take any meds you usually take in the morning. Eat breakfast. You don't want your stomach growling while you're speaking. Pray before you speak, ask God to give you peace.

    Also, look up Toastmasters and see if there's a local group in your area. They are a group all about speechmaking. It's the best place to learn.

    God bless you!
     
  3. TomCS

    TomCS justified by his blood

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    Hello there, I read your post and I felt moved to respond. I felt really bad reading your post because I have had the very same experience in my own life. I don't have any practical advice for you because I have never been able to overcome this problem myself. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in that.

    I am a shy, quiet person and I have a mild speech impediment. The most painful memories that I have in my entire life are of required oral presentations which I was forced to give in high school and college over twenty years ago. The pain of those memories stays with me to this day.

    In fact, I failed to graduate from college (I dropped out in 1992) partly because I could not bear the thought of taking the mandatory speech class which I had put off for three years. I was in my junior year, I had put off the speech course for as long as I could, and I could not put it off any longer. So instead of taking the course, I dropped out; and my career path was permanently shifted downward.

    The memory of my required oral report in high school in 1988 is the single worst and most painful memory of my life. It hurt so much, and caused me such embarrassment, that I nearly attempted suicide that day.

    I'm sorry that my post is not a feel-good, story of triumph. I just wanted you to know that I understand what you are going through. And that it also makes me angry when people tell me to "just get over it."
     
    power2theweak likes this.
  4. emilyloohoo

    emilyloohoo Newbie

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    I also had to drop out of college because of a mandatory public speaking class. I hate the fact that a "stupid" debilitation such as that prevents me from achieving my dreams and providing a better life for my daughter. So for now, I'm "stuck" cleaning for a living. Thank the Lord I have a job, but I know I'm capable of so much more.
     
  5. power2theweak

    power2theweak Senior Veteran

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    Have you tried beta blockers? They are good for performance anxiety. Also, something that I found that helped me was just trying to talk to my audience. When I got up in front of the class and read my notes, I got so nervous that I almost passed out. However, when I'd get up and try to just have a conversation with them, things went a lot better. Was I still nervous?...YES!!! But, at least I was able to make it through.
     
  6. EphesiaNZ

    EphesiaNZ Been there, done that - too wise to do it again!

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    I avoid speaking in public at all costs and it never set me back at all - neither do I have a degree! Not all jobs out there require that you speak in public anyway, you just need to find a niche role that fits the person you are.

    I understand you want to do the best for your daughter, what decent parent doesn't, but don't beat yourself up over it. As you say, be thankful for a job - I lost mine a year ago due to redundancy and have days where I feel I have failed my kids because of it.

    Things never stay the same, brighter days are ahead. Know who you are and be proud of who you are.
     
  7. KellyLib

    KellyLib Newbie

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    Hi Laura,

    The fear of public speaking will never completely go away, so don't bother with those pricey programs that promise to eliminate it. Believe it or not, a speaker with no nervous energy would appear boring. Experienced speakers know that a far better solution than fighting fear is to channel it into the performance. And yes, public speaking is a form of performing.

    Take advantage of having preparation time for your next speaking engagement. Create a simple two or three point version of your speech and do it in front of a video camera. Then watch yourself. Pay attention to what both looks and sounds good, figure out how it can be made better, then try again. This kind of feedback is invaluable. If you can, do the speech in front of friends or family and then ask them what worked and what didn't. Often what we think looks or sounds a certain way is far different from the perspective of an audience member.

    Prepare your notes using just key or "trigger" words. *Never write a speech out word for word or try to memorize it. Rather, use the key words to remind you of what to say and then just speak from your heart. Your audience does not know your speech and won't know you made a mistake unless you tell them. And back your points with stories. They're easy to retell and audiences love stories--gives you instant credibility.

    Use your voice. Speak loudly but without shouting. Speak louder than you would one on one. This gives you authority and confidence. Don't rush--don't be afraid to pause and collect your next thought. Pausing actually make you look very confident.

    Use your eyes. Don't stare at the ceiling or the floor, and don't try to imagine everyone in their underwear--that doesn't work. Instead, look people in the eye randomly for 3 to 5 seconds. This can take practice. Again, use your family and friends. This technique alone will make you look like a professional speaker.

    Right beforehand, stretch your mouth and tongue. Warm up your voice by humming from your lowest to your highest a few times. Drink lots of water, but no dairy or sugar. Then breath deep, hold your chin high, and walk to the mic with confidence. When you get there, don't apologize and don't say "I'm nervous, bear with me" or anything like. Just smile and jump right into it.

    You'll be fine. :preach:

    Also, there is a Biblical perspective on speaking and communicating that applies today. Google the book: "Divine Knowledge Transfer"

    Blessings.
     
  8. TammyRae

    TammyRae Newbie

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    Spent several years as a professional lecturer - as a teen I was so painfully shy I couldn't talk to strangers or even simple schoolmates without a clenched stomach, cold sweats, shaking, etc...

    I initially started out working on my speaking problem by making myself take a job as a cashier as a busy dept store so I had to spend hours straight doing nothing but talking to strangers. I was insanely uncomfortable at first but after a month or so became very comfortable... after a few months, I became very good at it and was able to be very friendly, relaxed and actually enjoyed my job.

    When I started giving speeches it was the same exact thing, shaking, sweats, strong nausea.... but you HAVE to go through those first terrifying speeches if you ever want to get to the point where you become comfortable speaking to crowds. It is a skill, and you have to plow through the learning process and eventually your comfort zone will stretch and your skill will improve. You just have to fake the appearance of being comfortable giving those first speeches, then when you get through them, you will start feeling stronger and more capable and then you won't have to fake it anymore, you WILL be comfortable :) One thing to remember, people you are speaking to will be accepting you at face value.... if you APPEAR confident and knowledgeable, that is how they will accept you and they won't have a clue what a quivering mess you are on the inside LOL

    Regarding how to get through those first speeches as easily as possible, the posts above had excellent tips to follow... know your material inside and out, figure out one or two spots you can inject humor (especially a humble poking fun at yourself somewhere), practice giving your speech in front of a few family and friends several times, look just over the crowd, if possible find a friendly face or two (good if it is someone you know already) in the front row and glance directly at them occasionally for a smile of support, use effective note cards, pause for sips of water if you start feeling shaky while taking to calm yourself, use relaxing breathing techniques right before giving the speech, and pray a lot :)

    Good luck and God bless!
     
  9. bigcat1967

    bigcat1967 Newbie

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    I also have a fear of speaking in meetings though I force myself every time. I do pray a lot before going in and God has basically been there for me every single time.

    The above quote - you might want to get over your fear by going to a toastmasters group. There - you aren't tied to anything - and if pass out, so what. People will understand what you are going through. You might want to tell the group that you are afraid - believe it or not, giving a group a heads up, will help you.
     
  10. emilyloohoo

    emilyloohoo Newbie

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    Great idea! Thanks guys :)
     
  11. howtospeakinpublic

    howtospeakinpublic Newbie

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    It may even be something as simple as having people introduce themselves or opening the floor to questions. I realize these diversions aren't always possible and depend on the situation, but anything you can factor in that makes you feel less trapped or under the spotlight is worth the effort.
    Visit our Site amazon.com/How-Speak-Public-Techniques-ebook/dp/B007KSYN8U:idea: to stop the fear of public speaking.
     
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