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Thread: Public Speaking

  1. Default Public Speaking

    Real public speaking, not small talk, is something I find difficult. It could be tied into me primarily typing more about serious discussion issues then discussing it in public and especially having to discuss such issues to older, informed peers who have a potentially important stake in my future based on the impression I make upon them.

    If I had to analogize the feeling I have to "ad-libbing" say something the equivalent to an interview or a public speech on my academic opinion on a current matter then it would feel like sky fall, James Bond reference intended. For this very matter, I tend to be generally skeptic of sound bites: short pieces of audio (ie clips) with respect to their presentation in sensationalism journalism as a tool to mock, slander, or as evidence of a conspiracy.

    I'm curious if other people on the site have similar problems with public speaking and how they "gear-up" and if there is a kind of retooling to thinking when it comes to ad-lib speaking or speaking in general aside from preparation, cue-cards, rehearsal, and rote methods of public speaking memorization.

    To put this into context, I've been considering joining toast masters for awhile, but instead of going through those pains I tried to deliver an extemporaneous speech on some issues I have with current education. The sub-conscious lip-smacking and the chorus reverberations of "umms" just came across as some of the more obvious speech anxieties I have even when I don't have a visual audience to potentially intimidate me.

    The clip can be listened to here:

    I actually did have a professor give me a video of me doing a public speaking session. To put it simply, I had my left hand subconsciously on my neck making it look like I was choking myself in the middle of the presentation. I had absolutely no idea I wanted to kill myself that badly. The speech was also rehearsed for an hour and a half before delivery.

  2. Default Re: Public Speaking

    I've taken a public speaking class, and I was terrified of it. I would stutter, stare at the ceiling, and even the hand thing you did. We were required to purchase a mini dv for the camera in the back of the room so we could watch ourselves.

    Slowly over time, through both the cameras presence, an our teacher using a bell whenever we used an "um" (or anything like that), I became better. Doing YouTube commentaries helped slightly as well, but I still say "um" from time to time. I've heard Toastmasters is a good place to practice and even learn tips from others, I think you should try to attend at least one, see how you like it.

  3. Default Re: Public Speaking

    I;m better on the fly and am almost never prepared for anything, which in hind sight is REALLY bad. When I do have notecards, I find it hard not to just read the cards straight off. I write fairly well and write decent speeches/talks, but I just find it annoying when other people read their notecards and stop looking at the audience when they're talking because it feels impersonal.

    As for you it sounds like you need to be less nervous and to relax before your speaking. While not entirely possible to completely rid yourself of nerves, being able to calm yourself and to focus on the talk at hand would benefit you well. Some things you can't really control (like your subconscious hand thingy or the dry mouth), but that's what practice and water are for (just don't drink a crapton of it while on stage). If anything, I'd have you practice in front of someone/some people in order to get feedback without being graded on it. That's what a few people I know do for interviews. They have their friends/adults give them a mock interview so that they can eliminate the "umms..." and empty pockets of "i don't know X but I can try Y?" Rehearsals don't help you unless you have an audience to see what's going on with yourself. I'd work on calming the nerves and relaxing before your speeches instead of being all wound up by the moment. I don't know if this helps you with anything :/

  4. ~Thrust Into It~ Straight Male
    IGN: Sn1perel1te
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    Default Re: Public Speaking

    A good way to work on the Umms, is to work on pacing. Umms come about because the brain is not as fast as the speech, so it basically tells you to Umm so that it can catch up with the thoughts. Slowing your speech pace down can really allow you to deliver a more powerful speech, with few umms as well.

    Personally, I never liked preping for a speech, other than knowing background information on the topic, and having a few good quotes that I could relate to the topic, along with who said those quotes. I usually do pretty well like this, but my only downfall is my overall time can sometimes be over or under what may be required.

  5. Default Re: Public Speaking

    "Rehearsed an hour and a half before delivery" meaning that was the only time you did so? I'm not judging; I'm just trying to understand.

  6. Default Re: Public Speaking

    No. This is incorrect. Technically speaking you usually think faster than what you can say. What happens with the umms is that you begin to become afraid and your thoughts are blocked out and you need filter text to remember what you were originally thinking.

  7. ~Thrust Into It~ Straight Male
    IGN: Sn1perel1te
    Server: Bellocan
    Level: 152
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    Guild: EbonSol
    Alliance: In One

    Default Re: Public Speaking

    From personal experience, thats how it was for me :\

  8. Default Re: Public Speaking

    For that speech, yes. It was speech class, so we had two speeches run each week. And one week we had camera equipment to do recordings.

  9. Nuclear testing facility Straight Male
    IGN: VerrKol
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    Default Re: Public Speaking

    I did Speech and Debate competitively for 5 years (4 high school and 1 college).

    Fortunately, I've never had a debilitating fear of public speaking aside from the usual nervousness. The short advice I have is practice. Everything single time you get up to speak it becomes easier. The nervousness never completely goes away, but you become accustomed to it and realize the truth. It's OK to be nervous. You just can't let it affect your speech.

    I've done a variety of events both prepared and unprepared. Everyone has slightly different methods of how to gear up. For unprepared speaking, I don't do any practice at all aside from brief speaking excesses (ex speaking with a pen in my mouth to help enunciate). Your movements should come fairly naturally. The trick is to cut out any unnecessary movements and include only those gestures which emphasize your words. This is most easily practiced with prepared events since you can plan them out ahead of time. Practice will help you associate a sort of bag of gestures that can be used in almost any speech.

    Two basic tips that apply to every speech:
    1. Have an outline
    Begin the speech like you would an essay. Lure the audience with an interesting fact or quote and then present an overview of what you will be discussing. Depending on the length of the speech, you should have a beginning, X number of sub points, and end. Assuming you aren't using a podium, you should start in the middle of the stage and take two medium steps to visually separate your points a la paragraphs in an essay. Then return to the middle when you begin the summation. This helps your audience track your organization by associating it with visual queues.

    2. Scan the crowd (for a live audience)
    You should make a slow sweeping pattern, not necessarily making eye contact with every single person, but moving from right to left and vice-versa. The eye contact should be firm and last only a few seconds before moving on to another random person.

    After listening to your sample, I noticed two things. The first is the number of uhs and uhms. Your problem isn't too severe. I've heard MUCH worse cases. The best, in my opinion, method to cure this is to have a prepared speech. Recite it in front someone (from memory) and have them stop you every single time you say one of these filler words. Then start over from the beginning. It's an exhausting process and can be incredibly frustrating, but it works. This will force you to think slightly ahead of what you are going to say to ensure that you don't use any filler words. Over time, it becomes habit.

    You also need to slow down. Most people speed up their speaking when they're nervous. As a rule of thumb, speak slightly slower than is comfortable to you. It sounds odd, but slowing down not only improves the clarity but actually makes you sound more persuasive.

    The same goes for your enunciation. Part of what I hear is probably the voice recording quality, but your pronunciation could be significantly improved. My favorite trick is to try speaking with a pen in my mouth. It forces you to focus on what your tongue is doing. Again, you want to sound like you are slightly over pronouncing the word.

    The most important thing to cure awkward gestures is to realize it's OK for your hands to be at your side doing nothing. Unless it's something that directly contributes to the speech by emphasizing something or providing organization your hands should not be moving. For really bad cases, have someone tie your hands at your waist with twine so you are immediately conscious of every time you attempt to move them.

    EDIT: Wow that turned out way longer than I had realized. Feel free to ask more specific questions so I stop writing essays...



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