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Fear of Public Speaking

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Old 04-02-2012, 09:58 AM   #1
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Unhappy Fear of Public Speaking

Hi everyone,

Just thought it might be worth getting some advice on this topic. I've always been a shy and nervous public speaker, no matter how many times I've had to do it. I'm fair-skinned so I go obviously red whenever I know more than a few faces are watching me.

One of my mini-goals is to lose about 10+ lbs by the end of May because one of my best friend's is getting married then. He has asked me to sing, as well as give a reading and say a few words about them as a couple. I'm not as worried about the singing because I'll be with other people and have done that before many times but... the reading is scaring the crap out of me.

To make matter worse, my ex will be there and my boyfriend's ex will be there. So, I feel I have extra pressure to look my best, sound my best and also to keep my emotions at bay so I don't ruin the ceremony for my friend.

I'm worried I'll start crying, will go ridiculously red, become aware how red I am and therefore go blank, or will simply mess up a touching moment.

I'll have no problem writing something good, it's the delivery that I suck at.

Please, if anyone has any good advice on how to stay cool and focused in moments like this, I would love to hear them!

Cheers
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:45 AM   #2
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I dread public speaking so I know how you feel, but when I know what I'm talking about I'm amazing at it. So since this is you're best friends wedding I'm sure you'll be great...

The good thing about it being a wedding is you can have a few drinks before the speech to calm your nerves. Second it's okay to not speak for a moment, so if you feel like you're going to cry stop, take a few breaths in and then continue on. I know alot of people like to say umm, umm umm a lot just so there isn't silence, but it's okay to have a moment to collect your thoughts in silence then continue. Sounds a lot better than umm's.. lol

Also remember this is your best friends wedding it's a day for her. Your ex's, ex is his ex for a reason, just like he's your ex for whatever reason. But I hear ya on losing weight for bitter sweet revenge, which is perfect. You have about 2 months to drop 10 pounds which is VERY do able! Given the fact you're my height 170 will look great on you too! Just use this for motivation, do it the healthy way, stay on track and by the time you get up there to give your speech you'll forget why you were even nervous to begin with!

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Old 04-02-2012, 01:13 PM   #3
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It's really easy to speak in front of others when 1. You're prepared and 2. You have vast understanding or a conviction for what you're presenting.

If you are saying what you really feel, then diverting from script will be easy.

My advice is to jot down 3-5 points you want to make. That way, if you fumble and only remember 2 or 3, you're covered. Go in front of a mirror or set up a video camera and do your speech 5 times. Review the video in private. Note the things you like, note the things you don't. Take only 3 bits of self advice to concentrate on and forget the rest.

The best wedding speeches put the focus on the couple with great emotion or humor.

Above all else, remember that the focus is on the couple and not on you. No one will remember the speech as much as the wedding if you screw up. If they do remember the speech, it'll be because it enhanced the union ceremony very well.

Unless, of course, you take too much of MizTaCen's advice and get sloppy drunk. lol
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:15 PM   #4
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Wait. I just noticed you're in Ireland. Everyone will be sloppy drunk so don't worry about a thing!

Just kidding.
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Old 04-02-2012, 02:25 PM   #5
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When I was in high school, a teacher told us to pick a spot to look at and focus on. I was bullied in school so the only place I could look was at him. So my advice is to find a friendly face and look there.

Also keep in mind that most people don't like public speaking so everyone already knows it's painful. xD
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:11 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback everyone

MiZTaCCen - I know what you mean, I am such an ummer. I really want to try and avoid it so I think practice and preparation are key. I'm not terribly worried about the ex-factor but definitely want to be on my game and not let him (or his new gf) think that they're making me nervous (it's only partially true - everyone is actually making me feel nervous!) Thanks for the motivation - 170 is definitely achievable! If only all of this Easter chocolate would go away!!

fitness4life - Excellent tips, thank you! You're right - I definitely want the focus to be on them and it to be about them. I will seriously consider having a small drink beforehand... And yes, being Irish, there's always plenty of booze available for all so let's hope that factors in well!

Nadya - I thought of the same thing. The newly married couple will be sitting right in front of me when I speak so I'm planning to just speak directly to them and try and pretend no one else is there. I remember having the same experience in high school too; I always seemed to fix on the people who were most likely to make fun of me afterwards. I'd like to think I have more confidence now anyway.

I plan to try it out a few times on my bf beforehand and will plan to speak from the heart. I'm just hoping I don't start trembling or anything too crazy; hopefully people will see it as endearing rather than anything else.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:25 AM   #7
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Good luck! You definitely need to post us on it when you do the speech! I like to hear how well you did!
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:26 AM   #8
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Cheers, will do! It's not until the end of May so I have some time. But I'll be feeling very relieved when it's over

On the other hand, I'm now starting to think about what it'll be like for one of my best friend's to be married and how that changes a friendship. But that's a topic for another time....
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:48 AM   #9
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Something that also might help is to realize that a lot of people are nervous about public speaking, just like you, which means a vast majority of the audience is going to be very sympathetic (i.e., NOT judging you!!!) and will likely be in awe of anyone who can get up and do what you're going to do!

I recall a work meeting a few years back, our entire company in a huge theater, and people from various departments were giving updates on their teams. One woman stood up to present and she was visibly shaking, her voice was shaking and everyone could tell she was absolutely terrified. She fumbled through her entire presentation and at the end, she got a standing ovation! Everyone there knew how difficult it was for her and everyone was so proud for her when she made it through. I've never heard cheers that big for any staff meeting!

Moral of the story - almost everyone there is going to understand and a lot of them are going to be thinking, "Holy cow, how is she doing this?! I'd never be able to do it!"
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:56 AM   #10
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The more you do it, the easier it gets.

When I first started, I used to just take off my glasses. Then I couldn't see anyone well and they were all blurry.

Now I do it so well people think I'm an extrovert! When I'm actually an introvert with good public persona. I don't THRIVE on it, but I can do it.

You aren't really giving a speech from memory but reading something out loud. Most of the time you will look at paper, not people. So just announce "X asked me to read for you..." and then read! And read slow on purpose since nervy people tend to want to rush it.

HTH!

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Old 04-04-2012, 03:56 AM   #11
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Another thing to remember =) You are speaking to two people from the heart, so if you shed a tear that is okay, too, because genuine emotion and sincerity is touching and meaningful.. there won't be a dry eye in the house.

It is okay to be nervous. I did a lot of public speaking and debating, had you known me, you would have been stunned that I did it at all ... I am such a wuzz. I was always nervous before I waded in but I went in with conviction and knew that, with my enthusiasm, I would encourage and convince at least half the audience. I went on to lecture in marine law, and teach novel writing classes.

Really that is it, just be you, talk like you are talking to friends and believe in what you say.
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