Public Speaking-help

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temco_rep
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Public Speaking-help

Post by temco_rep » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:55 pm

Hello,
I'm a 51year old guy and have been in some kind of supervisory/management position for over 25 yrs. As long as I can remember, I have struggled terribly with speaking in front of
groups. My previous boss advised me to try the Dale Carnegie class. I did take in 1996 and was pleased with the results ,however I believe I'm right back where I started from .

My boss , who did most of all of our meetings has since retired and I now work for a large corporation.
Later in August I believe I'll be asked to present a quarterly review to over 40 people and I'm losing it already. What a terrible way to live.
I keep trying to tell myself that the presentation will only need to be about 10 to 15 minutes and I'm panicking over it. My doctor tried to help me years ago with [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] which is a Beta Blocker. Sometimes I think it helps me but most of the time i don't feel much different after taking it.

Has anybody experienced this like me? I know that speaking is the number 1 fear ,but I see so many of my co-workers do it flawlessly that I feel like I'm the only one.

Thank You and please help,
Tom

livesoft
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by livesoft » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:56 pm

Is there any chance that you can delegate this task to someone else?
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LeeMKE
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by LeeMKE » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:59 pm

Normally I'd recommend Toastmasters. However, they can't help with a presentation coming up so soon.

Find a coach with expertise in public speaking and get tutoring ASAP. You will need several sessions to change your state of mind and get ready, so I wouldn't waste more time worrying.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by TX_TURTLE » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:08 pm

temco_rep wrote:Hello,
I'm a 51year old guy and have been in some kind of supervisory/management position for over 25 yrs. As long as I can remember, I have struggled terribly with speaking in front of
groups. My previous boss advised me to try the Dale Carnegie class. I did take in 1996 and was pleased with the results ,however I believe I'm right back where I started from .

My boss , who did most of all of our meetings has since retired and I now work for a large corporation.
Later in August I believe I'll be asked to present a quarterly review to over 40 people and I'm losing it already. What a terrible way to live.
I keep trying to tell myself that the presentation will only need to be about 10 to 15 minutes and I'm panicking over it. My doctor tried to help me years ago with [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] which is a Beta Blocker. Sometimes I think it helps me but most of the time i don't feel much different after taking it.

Has anybody experienced this like me? I know that speaking is the number 1 fear ,but I see so many of my co-workers do it flawlessly that I feel like I'm the only one.

Thank You and please help,
Tom
Lay out a good summary of what needs to be addressed and delegate the actual presentation (preparing the PPT and also presenting it) to a junior member of your team. Of course you will be there to further explain and answer questions. There will be no doubt it is 'your' presentation. This way you will fulfill your commitment while mentoring the new generation.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Leeraar » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:46 pm

Go to Toastmasters for the long term.

For the short term, engage the "owner" of the meeting, tell him/her you want to be sure your content is on target, will they review it ahead of time?

In my experience, Dale Carnegie is expensive and much less effective than a good Toastmasters' Club over the long term.

I have gone from being terrified by 5-minute prepared presentations for one or two managers to being adept at 90-minute impromptu workshops with 20+ people that are highly rated by the participants.

Being good at public speaking is a skill that really makes you feel good. It can be learned, rather easily I think.

L.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by tibbitts » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:55 pm

I think you should delegate the presentation. You can be on hand to help out.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Epsilon Delta » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:57 pm

Cancel the presentation. If the presentation would actually have contained any useful information e-mail it. At least 30 of the 40 victims attendees will be pleased.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by tibbitts » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:10 am

Leeraar wrote:Go to Toastmasters for the long term.

For the short term, engage the "owner" of the meeting, tell him/her you want to be sure your content is on target, will they review it ahead of time?

In my experience, Dale Carnegie is expensive and much less effective than a good Toastmasters' Club over the long term.

I have gone from being terrified by 5-minute prepared presentations for one or two managers to being adept at 90-minute impromptu workshops with 20+ people that are highly rated by the participants.

Being good at public speaking is a skill that really makes you feel good. It can be learned, rather easily I think.

L.
I don't think the content is the issue at all, it's the presentation. Being good at almost anything makes you feel good, but it's not any easier to be good at public speaking than most other tasks. You have to pick your battles, and at the OP's age, putting a lot of effort into becoming a better public speaker isn't going to be a big win. A quarter of a century ago, it might have been a different story, but apparently over the intervening years the OP has been busy developing another valuable skill: avoiding the need to do public speaking.

Editron
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Editron » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:15 am

Hi, Tom. You're right, many people have fear of public speaking, whether to two people or 200, it doesn't matter. I used to feel the same way, until I got a job teaching at the college level and had to talk to a class of 15-25 undergrads several times a week. Sweaty palms, dry mouth and the sensation that my head was detaching from my body. After a while I realized I knew more than all of them put together, and they weren't being nearly as critical of me as I was of myself. They just wanted to know what I knew.

You can do this, and the key is to know your material. Keep it brief. Rehearse as many times as needed. Speak slowly and pause after main points. Assuming you have a PowerPoint or other kind of visual presentation, let the images and graphics do a lot of the work, and avoid reading the on-screen text verbatim.

Find one trusted person -- even a friend or neighbor -- to listen to your presentation and provide a critique. One technique you might consider is envisioning yourself as a tour guide taking this group on a walk through your presentation. We're going to stop here for some information, and now we're moving on to the next exhibit, where I tell you what it means. If eye contact is too stressful, focus on a point above their heads on the back wall and envision a friendly face there.

And most of all, remind yourself that you have decades of experience and know your field so well that other people are eager to hear what you have to say. It'll all be over in a few minutes, and you'll feel great -- and relieved -- that you pulled it off. Good luck!

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by russellh » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:21 am

If you can't delegate, are you comfortable with preparing a good powerpoint ahead of time? That is 90% of the battle. If you can do that, then you just do what everyone else does, talk from the powerpoint. Once you get going and if you start to feel comfortable, you can ad lib.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by denovo » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:25 am

I used to be very nervous about public speaking and became a lot better about it. You have to build you confidence, but this sounds very vapid, the best way to be more confident is to show your confidence and pretend you are, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Last edited by denovo on Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by wamfan » Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:15 am

Hi Tom -

If you look at my previous posts, you will see that I have the same issue. While the other responses are well-meaning, the "just power through it" technique won't work. I have dealt with this my entire career, and the only thing that works for me is the following:

[Medical advice removed by admin LadyGeek]

Is this the optimal way to live? No, but it is what I have to do to work. I have gotten to the point on meds where I felt like I could stop, and been oh so rudely awakened by the return of panic attacks.

Good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by dumbbunny » Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:37 am

temco_rep wrote:Later in August I believe I'll be asked to present a quarterly review to over 40 people and I'm losing it already.
No sense worrying until you find out for sure if you will be asked. Do this as soon as possible. If you are presenting, I would follow Editron's advice.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by russellh » Sat Jul 26, 2014 2:45 am

wamfan wrote: While the other responses are well-meaning, the "just power through it" technique won't work.
For you. It works for most. If not, the entire presentation paradigm would not exist.

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Sheepdog
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Sheepdog » Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:30 am

Oh my.....this sounds so familiar. Fear, panic attack even. Being a project engineer, factory manager, Rotary Club President, charity group president, requires getting up there. I once even brought along some vodka to chug a lug in the restroom before speaking. I still have fear, but I get though with mental tricks.

Strangely, I have no trouble with impromptu speaking. That seems to be opposite to others. I know that my reaction as I rehearse a presentation is I have a feeling of panic as I think of actually making it in front of the group, so when it actually comes time to give it, I may be shaking. Why is that? I surmise that when it is impromptu, off the cuff speaking, my mind is concentrating on my thoughts instead of the audience or group. It is thinking of the audience, that makes me nervous. That is where I found my mind trick.

It is often said the speaker should open with a joke or some other humorous anecdote. That supposedly helps relax you as well as getting the audience's attention. Try that next time. However, that doesn't work for me as I am a terrible joke teller, so that made me even more nervous. I still try for something to get a smile, though, even if it means laughing at myself. I know that if you can laugh at yourself, you will lose that nervousness.

Okay, what do I do for a prepared speech now to reduce tha fear? What did I do when I was giving one of those reviews to company officials when I was that engineer or manager? I found that if I used visual aids, charts, graphs, etc., as many as I practically could, my fears dropped dramatically. Today, you may prepare a PowerPoint presentation. I guess the reason that this works is that as you speak, you are not looking into the audience's eyes so much. You have to do some eye contact to be effective, of course, but having visual aids takes your eyes from theirs and theirs from yours somewhat. Then, as you progress in the presentation, you can become more relaxed and effective

Maybe my trick would work for you. Maybe you can find your own. Maybe you don't need a trick at all.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:11 am

wamfan wrote:[Medical advice removed by admin LadyGeek]
I would certainly NOT do this for public speaking fear. These are powerful, semi-addictive medications with side effects and withdrawal effects. Plus you don't want to be up there sounding like you're three sheets to the wind. Learn how to do relaxation breathing instead; someone can show that to you in five minutes. Practice it.

I vote for the Powerpoint presentation. Be sure to have copies of the slides printed out in case of technical troubles. The Powerpoint stuff also functions as a crib sheet. Run through the presentation several times before hand, trying to anticipate questions.

This is a short event. The shorter presentations are, the happier the audience. Make a joke about the shortness at the beginning so everyone will say to themselves, Thank God! I'll be out of here in 15 minutes.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by nisiprius » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:15 am

Toastmasters, Toastmasters, Toastmasters. Find one and go. I don't know whether there is a good short-term answer but first of all, just meeting other people who struggle with public speaking will give you a lift, and while they won't have any magic answers they may have helpful suggestions.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by jeffarvon » Sat Jul 26, 2014 6:32 am

I benefited by taking a MOOC on public speaking. Here's the one I took: https://www.coursera.org/course/publicspeak

You can go through the archived course on your schedule and find the things that resonate with you.

Good Luck!
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fundseeker
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by fundseeker » Sat Jul 26, 2014 6:42 am

temco_rep,

I am with you. This sort of thing comes a lot easier to some than others. Hang in there. As they say, this too shall pass. And, as you may know, the audience will not know how hard your heart may be pounding or how stressed you are. For this one, maybe you could delegate, but why not get one of these under your belt? You'll feel better about yourself, IMO.

I agree with most that it may be too late for Toastmasters to help, but I highly recommend joining a club for the value down the road. It will provide you unbelievable confidence in these situations.

But for this one (and others), being prepared and practicing out loud will raise your comfort level a lot. And, I would definitely use PowerPoint, or at least handouts or other visual aids to get their eyes off of you at the beginning and on to something else while you are talking. And, I'd forgo the meds, but slow deep breaths beforehand and during will help. If you are going to use PowerPoint, you must get familiar with it in advance because you don't need technical issues adding to your stress. And finally, I doubt any speaker has ever been accused of being too brief and the audience is usually grateful. So go get 'em, and start preparing instead of just stressing. And you can get some good tips on Youtube as well.

tibbitts, What the heck are you talking about when you say "...at the OP's age, putting a lot of effort into becoming a better public speaker isn't going to be a big win?" Now is the prefect time for him to improve this skill!
Last edited by fundseeker on Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

temco_rep
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by temco_rep » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:11 am

Thank you all for the help. First, there's no chance of delegating this one. My new boss is very nice but is a sink or swim like manager. They definetly will want to hear from me. Also, I should have added that even though my previous boss did most of our meetings with the staff, I did contribute and had my 5 minutes in front of them. I would usually use a legal pad with my talking points. My reason for reaching out to the board is exacly what I'm receiving. Good tips and advice and to assure me that there are many others that suffer or have suffered in the past. Please keep them coming!

Tom

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by davidkw » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:17 am

Toastmasters is super!!! I had a stuttering problem growing up, and now I am nearly fluent. I am in two clubs. Speeches are usually 5 - 7 minutes with some manuals they get longer. When I took the Dale Carnegie class back in 1985 and went back as a graduate assistant, the speeches there are 1 - 2 minutes. I get more out of Toastmasters.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Bulldawg » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:05 am

OP:
If you can speak to the group for 5 mins already , you can certainly expand it to 15 mins by covering more content . PowerPoint helps but isn't a crutch . You have much content in your head via your experience and that's why you're the manager/presenter now. Sounds like maybe there's some performance anxiety about being the top guy compounded by more public speaking? You'll be fine ....eat right, get a good sleep the night before, stay hydrated and breathe properly before the presentation.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:12 am

You have to face the problem head on, not think of ways to avoid it as some posters suggest. This probably won't be the last time you're asked to speak before a large group, and you can't avoid them all. Investigate the solutions already suggested (except the one suggesting drugs) and then suck it up and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

edit: Your public speaking skills will most likely influence your next performance evaluation even if there isn't a specific box for them on the form. Avoiding presentations may make you appear weak in your boss's eyes and negatively impact your future career potential.
Last edited by cheese_breath on Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by letsgobobby » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:38 am

I have at least as bad a problem. I get shaky even thinking about being in a meeting with people who report to me. Twice a year I am asked to give a reflection in front of a group of 10-60 people, most whom I've known for a decade. The reflection lasts 1-3 minutes or less. I agonize over it for days, getting increasingly upset and vowing to refuse to do the next one. The night before I can barely sleep and the morning of I'm shaky enough that I also have taken [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek]. It's pretty ridiculous but that knowledge alone does not change the experience. I even get shaky and racing heart if I think about asking a question in a group, even a small one. I am lucky I am aldehyde dehydrogenase deficient or I'd probably become a social alcoholic.

Good luck, you are not alone.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Boglegrappler » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:49 am

I've known very bright people who struggled with delivering speeches, but who were superb in responding to questions from audiences. Exactly the opposite of what is logical. I think they needed something to respond to as an anchor, or something to hang their hat on.

If you think you might be in that camp, maybe you can fiddle with the format a little to minimize your fear and maximize your strength.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Njwolf » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:04 am

Try this:
- join 2 Toastmasters groups ASAP. Explain your situation to them. Ask the groups if you can present your work presentation to them before or after the Toastmaster meeting every week until your actual presentation. Those Toastmasters groups will relate to your situation and help you out. if you are concerned about revealing confidential information tweak the presentation so that it is close.
- I used to paste pictures of people on the wall and mirror in the bathroom. I would practice my presentation saying one sentence and making eye contact with a person in the picture starting on the left side. Then i would say the next sentence and look at the person in the picture just to the right of the previous one. Somehow, speaking to one person at time was easier for me.
- I would recite the presentation backwards to the pictures as well.
- repeat approach with family and friends
- After a while, you gain so much confidence that the presentation should be easier to do. You may still get anxious at beginning of the presentation, accept it happily as it means that you care. Plow through it, you will simmer down.
- NO CAFFEINE that morning!!!!!!

I'm confident that you will do well because you care and are committed. Let us know how you do. While we won't be able to attend, know that we are cheering for you from afar!!!!

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by yolli71 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:14 am

Tom,

I can relate and I truly feel your pain. A lot of the people who are telling you to just "power through it," "make sure you know your material," "get a good night's rest," etc., don't really understand that this is more about a true debilitating anxiety than it is about simply being nervous or uncomfortable.

I went through the same thing and it greatly affected me...it changed my entire career path. I used to be in sales and was making a good living. It obviously required me to give presentations quite often which was not a problem for me. One day as I was giving a presentation, I had a full blown panic attack out of nowhere. I couldn't even continue my presentation. From that point on, I was terrified to do any public speaking. My heart would race uncontrollably, my voice would shake, I'd tremble, and I'd sweat profusely...it was your standard "fight or flight" response. It go so bad for me that I wouldn't even speak up in roundtable meetings with my coworkers/management anymore.

During that time, I took a Dale Carnegie course and I also joined Toastmasters. I tried hypnotherapy; I met with a cognitive behavioral therapist; and I took a 4 day course in CT (yes, I bought a plane ticket and booked a hotel room on my own dime to attend) that focused on public speaking anxiety. I tried doing whatever possible to overcome this. Unfortunately, while offering some help, these didn't solve my problem and I ended up leaving sales.

I now work for the fed govt., and the ironic thing is, my current job requires me to give quite a few briefings. What ended up helping me the most was [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek]. I spoke with my doctor and she had prescribed me [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] in the past which did not help. When I told her about this later, she assured me it should help and she simply upped my dose. This eventually is what did the trick for me. The [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] stopped all the trembling, shaking, racing heart, etc. Now keep in mind that it does not relieve the actual "anxiety" prior to your presentation, it just stops the physical "fight or flight" response while you're doing your public speaking. My doc also prescribed me [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek], but I rarely take it as I've found the [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] to effectively do the job. What ended up happening was that when I realized the [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] worked, it made me more confident going into my subsequent presentations...so now the anxiety is minimal prior to my presentations (yes, there's still a bit of anxiety or nervousness...but nothing compared to the past).

So while I don't want to say that meds will solve all your problems, this is what I'd recommend. I would use [drug name removed --admin LadyGeek] (higher dose if it didn't work for you before) and I would possibly ask for Xanax to take prior to your presentation. I would also focus on deep breathing now and when you're about to speak. What I learned was that this anxiety is all mental and it can be overcome. I would also imagine yourself doing well and being successful at speaking in public....try to get the negative thoughts out of your head. Also remember to slow down while you're talking...and again...breathe slowly (since the typical response is to take short shallow quick breaths...basically hyperventilating).

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me. Coming from personal experience, I know you an overcome this. Good luck.

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Rodc » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:21 am

Do not cancel.

This can be a very career limiting limitation. Higher level people need to be able to address groups of people. They need to be able to rally support for action among other things. You can learn to do this and your future self will thank you for not giving up.

In the near term get a few friendlies and practice until you have it down cold. Have them give you honest feedback. If you panic, if you have I'd down cold you can run on auto pilot. More importantly, you probably won't panic.

Best of luck.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by cherijoh » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:32 am

I definitely recommend preparing by giving your presentation out loud until you feel comfortable with it. (Reading it in your head is of limited value). Do it in front of the mirror and then in front of an audience once you think you have it down pat. The latter can be a spouse or friend. If you are going to be giving the presentation in person, it is a good idea to book that conference room for a dry run to make sure you are comfortable with the technology in the room.

I use PowerPoint a lot and try and keep my slides simple with 3 - 5 bullet points (in large font) and a chart or graph where appropriate. This addresses two common "fear of speaking" concerns - (1) the bullets serve as an outline and keep me organized and on track and (2) the bullets are just a short phrase which I don't read out loud so there is no fear of stumbling over the words on the slide. After practicing the presentation aloud, no one usually knows that what came out of my mouth wasn't exactly what I intended. This type of presentation also helps engage the audience.

The suggestion to tell a joke is a good one IF you can tell a joke well. But, a good alternative is to find a cartoon and include it as an ice breaker in your presentation.

FWIW, I am an introvert and used to suffer from significant anxiety when faced with public speaking. Now I have a few butterflies when faced with an unfamiliar audience, but otherwise I'm fine. The feedback I receive after giving presentations is generally along the lines of "I wish I were a natural speaker like you!" :happy

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by mike143 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:36 am

Take a speech class at a local community college.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:45 am

As a reminder, medical advice (drugs and treatment techniques) is off-topic. See: Forum Policy
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Questions on medical issues are beyond the scope of the forum. If you are looking for medical information online, I'd like to suggest you start with the Medical Library Association's User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web which, in addition to providing guidance on evaluating health information, includes lists of their top recommended sites in the following categories: consumer health, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They also provide a larger, but less frequently updated, list called Top 100 List: Health Websites You Can Trust.
A certain drug was mentioned multiple times in this thread, which can be interpreted as advice.
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:51 am

temco_rep wrote:My previous boss advised me to try the Dale Carnegie class. I did take in 1996 and was pleased with the results ,however I believe I'm right back where I started from .
Perhaps you just need a refresher. Can you get your company to pay for another course?
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Kenkat » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:08 am

Sheepdog wrote:Strangely, I have no trouble with impromptu speaking.
This has always been my "trick". Every presentation I do is at least semi-impromptu. I have a PowerPoint presentation to guide the overall flow (and I like to use very few words and some humorous pictures mixed in), but I don't rehearse and I don't have prepared notes. That makes me nervous. I try to treat it as a conversation with the audience. Try to engage them and keep it light. The fate of the world does not hang on how well this goes even though it feels like that is exactly the case.

I realize that this might not work for everyone. The key is to find your personal "style". If you're a little bit of a stand up comic, use that. If you're the quirky, techie guy, embrace it. That, and get experience - Toastmasters - awesome. Volunteer for some small group presentations on your terms and with material you know. Not everyone can be a master public speaker, but I think most people can get to competent with work.

artbug
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by artbug » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:35 am

I regularly struggle with varying (usually low) levels of anxiety. The irony is that I love public speaking, performing, teaching, etc. However, there are scenarios that simply don't workout well for me. Some factors that I found helpful for me:

Over-preparation for your presentation and good night's sleep can be crucial--easier said than done when you're anxious about what is going to happen the next day.

Scripting: For the last 30 minutes before going to sleep, I sit up in my bed with a pad of paper and write affirmations of what I desire, as if they are a reality. The statements range from "I sleep deeply throughout the night until I awake at the appointed hour" to "I am calm and relaxed as I do XYZ." I avoid negatives like "I don't do XYZ" or "I am not XYZ". A hypnotherapist once told me it was the most powerful form of hypnosis he knew.

As I drift off to sleep, I continue such statements in my thoughts or I visualize myself being successful in my endeavor, presenting in a certain way, being calm and collected.

I sometimes use non-addictive over-the-counter sleep aid to help me achieve the rest I require. Do not do this the night before the presentation without some familiarity with how such an aid might affect you the next day. For me, a half dose goes a long way for sleep and relaxation without lingering and affecting my judgment the next day.

gtmn
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by gtmn » Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:31 pm

This is a great opportunity for you to share the expertise you've developed over decades, so don't delegate it. You sound very sincere and genuine and these are very strong assets when influencing an audience. Avoid the jokes and cartoons, especially if you will be speaking to superiors.

Preparation can reduce stress before the event. Create a bullet-point outline and practice the talk enough to feel conversational. Memorize the introduction so you don't blank on that, but don't memorize the rest because it will sound "canned". Practice in front of a trusted colleague or even your wife and kids and ask about anything that distracts them, like fidgeting. Practice confident body language by putting your shoulders back and looking them in the eye. If you can, work in a short but relevant story about yourself or your topic because telling a story will loosen you up and personalize you, and if it's relevant it will make your presentation memorable.

To address anxiety, I recommend diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4. Do this for 2 minutes before you practice your talk or anytime that you feel stressed about it. Deep breathing provides oxygen to the brain and helps your "logical" brain regain control over the emotional center of the brain that triggers the fight-or-flight response. If you have a chance, do it for 2 minutes before your talk.

The day of the talk, get there early so you're comfortable with the room, the tech setup, and you know how much you'll have to project to reach the back of the room. Be confident that you know your stuff and don't worry about mistakes; most of the time you'll be the only one who knows what you wish you would've said. Look people in the eye because we all know when people are looking past us or above us and it diminishes credibility.

I wish you the best!

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sdsailing
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by sdsailing » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:22 pm

I recommend that which dare not speak its name on this forum. If your anxiety level is severe and you dont have a long time horizon, it is going to be your most effective solution. The amount can be tested beforehand.

Is that oblique enough?

music_man
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by music_man » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:27 pm

sdsailing wrote:I recommend that which dare not speak its name on this forum. If your anxiety level is severe and you dont have a long time horizon, it is going to be your most effective solution. The amount can be tested beforehand.

Is that oblique enough?
I agree. I don't really understand why we can't mention it here. It's a perfectly valid approach for helping with certain aspects of public speaking and similar circumstances. As a musician I've used said product quite a bit in performance situations and it's worked quite effectively. I understand it's pretty common prescription from doctors for these types of situations. Are we allowed suggesting, "Ask your doctor about xxxx".

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LadyGeek
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:31 pm

^^^ See my previous post about medical advice.

"Ask your doctor about xxxx" would be OK, but consider that some employers may have a different perspective. I think what's been said so far is sufficient, the point has been made.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

Sconie
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Sconie » Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:39 pm

Get yourself a copy of "Confessions of a Public Speaker," by Scott Berkun. It is smart, fun and provocative and packed with tips that will be of help to you. Good wishes on your presentation!
I know that you think you understand what you thought I said, but I don't think you realize that what I said is necessarily what I meant......

whatmeworry7
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by whatmeworry7 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:33 pm

To add a few bits to excellent advice above. Having a rehearsed presentation helps.

1. If using power point, do not read the slides. Have a separate parallel script prepared.

2. If you can, try to find a "hook": a story or anecdote that gets your audience's attention. Narratives are inherently more engaging.

3. If using a laser pointer, grab it with both hands and hold it against your abdomen. It steadies any shaking and hardly anybody noticeas awkward hand placement since everyone looks at the laser dot.

4. Long term, in addition to Toastmasters, you may want to consider Improv classes at a good theater. They helped me communicate a lot better not just in presentations but also day to day.

Good luck!

Boglemama
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Boglemama » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:00 pm

Yep! Totally understand what you are talking about. I quit a job paying 55k, around 20 years ago, because of an impending speech in front of the company. I would get horrible anxiety, including sweating, light-headedness, and almost panic attacks. I have gotten better with public speaking though. Here are a few tips that have helped me.

-Deep breathing techniques.
-Public speak about ANYTHING. I went to a few Toastmasters meetings and spoke. I recently spoke at a local meeting of a club that I belong to and it went great! It definitely built my confidence. Practice, practice, practice. I'd contact a local Toastmasters group and ask for their help. Explain the situation.
-Use visual aids. Lots and make them good. It will help you during your presentation to keep you on track, and it will also force people to look at the visual.
-Have hand outs. People will focus on them and you can hand them out, keeping your mind busy.
-Pick clothes that you feel confident and comfortable wearing for your presentation.
-Imagine AFTER your presentation. Rewarding yourself by going out to dinner or with something nice.
-Add humor! People will like your presentation more, and will remember it. It will also build your confidence if your audience is with you.
-Analyze your OWN thoughts during someone else's presentation. Normally people listen attentively and make judgement during the first few minutes or so. Then most people's minds wander. They are thinking about work that they have to do, stuff at home, and anything BUT you. Seriously. You will find yourself doing the same thing.
-Visualization. It's a powerful thing that personal coaches use. Visualize the entire presentation. Explain how you feel, the outcome, etc. Talk through how you are feeling. How great you feel when it's over and it was successful.
-Practice your presentation so that it's second nature. You should be doing it without thinking. Practice it at least 25 times. Preferably 50. Best would be 100.
-Videotape yourself and then see what your presentation is like. What do you look like? Do people understand you? Get someone else to watch it and ask their opinion.
-Ask your company to let you test your visual aids in the room and silently do your presentation. Stand in front of the room and see what it's like. Mentally do your presentation. Don't talk to yourself out loud (someone might overhear), but just get a feel for the room and what standing in front of it feels like. Do this right before your presentation.

Please let us know how it goes. I really do understand what you are going through. It stinks. But, believe it or not, I actually LIKE speaking in front of groups now! I get slightly anxious before but then really enjoy connecting with a group once I am up there. Feel free to message me if you'd like!

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fishnskiguy
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by fishnskiguy » Sat Jul 26, 2014 9:21 pm

I had the same problem as I rose in rank in the Navy. The solution was surprisingly easy: three fingers of bourbon fifteen minutes before the speech. After three or four successful speeches I cut back to two fingers and then one. For the rest of my career one good ounce of bourbon just before the speech allowed me to sail through it.

Chris
Trident D-5 SLBM- "When you care enough to send the very best."

Wolkenspiel
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Wolkenspiel » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:29 pm

I often teach a class that requires students (undergrads) to give a number of technical presentations (~15min) over the course of the semester. Some are very good at this from the beginning, some not so much, and some are just terrified. I have worked with > 100 students closely, so have a bit of experience. The following advice may not apply to everyone, but it works for most:
- Giving good (if not necessarily brilliant) public presentations is a skill that can be acquired with a fair, but not inordinate, amount of training. One doesn't need to be born for it and practice makes perfect (I have seen this first hand many many times)
- Recall that In most circumstances, the speaker is in complete control. These are your 15min, and with sufficient preparation, there is (almost) nothing that can go wrong
- I disagree with the warning against "over preparing". There is no such thing. I strongly advise to give your presentation for yourself or some trusted audience *aloud* multiple times. I have given many hundred talks/presentations/lectures - even today, for a very important one, I will write out the complete text and give multiple (3-5) "dry runs". I will make sure that I know by heart how I want to start and end the presentation. Do not improvise.
- Having some slides to support the flow of the presentation is useful (a necessity in my field). Making useful (or at least unoffensive) slides is another topic. Don't put too much text, don't overload them with graphics, don't just read the slides (I only know one or two people who do that effectively).
- It's ok to almost know the presentation by heart, but don't read it off notes.
- I also think starting with a joke is bad advice, unless you have some talents as a stand-up comedian. Just keep it simple and to the point.

JTJjr
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by JTJjr » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:20 pm

Write out your speech
word for word
like a poem

Ending each line
as you would normally
breathe or pause

Print it
using only the top quarter
of each page.

Read your speech
to your audience.

Because each line is very short and at the top of the page, you need only to glance at the page to know what to say and how to say it. This will allow you to keep eye contact with your audience and sound more like you are "talking" than "reading".
Good luck. Peace, JTJjr
Aimlessly wandering to discover where I am.

fundseeker
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by fundseeker » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:23 pm

One last thought from me, and maybe it's been mentioned, but IMO, you should not tell them that you're not good at speaking, that you hate doing it, that you're nervous, etc. You may know these things, but nothing good comes from sharing that information.

temco_rep
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by temco_rep » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:43 pm

I cant get over all of the wonderful support.

Thank you all!
I've read everyone and will continue to review all of them again and again.

Tom

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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Leeraar » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:51 pm

Do not use jokes.

Comments where you are the butt of the joke are OK, but they can be difficult, so as not to demean yourself in the eyes of the audience.

A quote from Yogi Berra can be apt, funny, and inoffensive.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes ... Yogi_Berra

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

Wolkenspiel
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Wolkenspiel » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:57 pm

fundseeker wrote:One last thought from me, and maybe it's been mentioned, but IMO, you should not tell them that you're not good at speaking, that you hate doing it, that you're nervous, etc. You may know these things, but nothing good comes from sharing that information.
Absolutely! No excuses, no apologies (not about the talk nor the substance of the presentation) - just do your thing.

Greentree
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Greentree » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:49 am

Agree with the toastmasters recommendation! I went from being terrified and a horrible speaker to actually loving it and doing well. One of the best decisions I've made in my life because it made me confident about something I never thought I would be about.

Don't think of the presentation as a spotlight on you. Think of yourself as a medium for the information. More like an MC at a party. Keep the focus on the audience and not you. You don't need to rock their world, and really they don't care about you anyways, they just want to know the information as it relates to them. The best speeches focus all attention on the audience.

Take your time. Pauses are completely normal and actually add interest. Practice the speech more than you think you have to, and practice getting out of your head, being ok with silence for a few seconds to go on to the next topic, remaining calm even if there is a mistake, acting like yourself, etc. Don't be afraid to practice over and over, if you have to do it in your car where there is no one, go for it. Whatever discomfort you have then will reduce what you experience on the day of.

Cody
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Re: Public Speaking-help

Post by Cody » Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:51 am

Do not expect beta blockers to "make you feel different" than normal. It may slow down your heart rate but you will probably not "feel" the difference. That doesn't mean, however, that they aren't working. My doctor said even the plocibow affect, in addition, may be helpful. I agree it gives me a bit of "control".

I had to give a "funeral memorial" speech which gave my great anxiety. I have that problem too. The talk went so well that I got lots of kudos. Here what I did.

1. Wrote only an outline of the talk. IN 16 POINT FONT. So I could find my place after audience eye contact. I love this technique.

2. I decided what the tone would be like, at times humous. But did not tell "jokes".

3. I practiced every day on my treadmill as I walked, somehow this made me more and more comfortable. I realized if I stumble (no pun intended) I would recover.

4. I did a final practice run - including a beta blocker (took 20 - 30 minutes before practice) to see how it all would go.

5. At the day of the funeral a repeated the treadmill in the morning. Took my beta block 20 -30 minutes before the talk (prefer to word "speech").

6. I calmed myself by talking with family members (my sister had died), listening calmly. (worked at calm!)

7. The talk went so well I actually felt good and valued by the process.

Will this work for you? Who knows. But maybe develop an easy to follow rotine.

PS. People who suggest that drugs may have side effects are making a good point. But you have to decide, for example, if you would rather have a headache several hours after taking the drug (an occasional side affect of my beta blocker) or the help that the drug provides. The trade off value can only be decided by you and your doctor.

Best,
cody

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