If We Were Having Coffee (Public Speaking Edition)

making a presentationIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you that last week I had to set a leadership goal for this semester. Creating that goal is part of my scholarship program, but thinking about things you want to achieve is never a bad thing. I decided that I want to focus on improving my public speaking skills, especially learning to not shake in front of a crowd.

See, it’s not really that I’m nervous. I love talking to people; I’m a super extrovert. My thoughts are calm, and being in front of an audience makes me feel more excited than panicked. But I get on stage (or in front of a room), start the presentation, and my body trembles.

And then my voice trembles. And then I get frustrated because I don’t want people to think I’m nervous when I’m not nervous. And then I start thinking about what people are thinking–which I wasn’t before, but now I’m shaking–and then I get nervous

It’s a terrible cycle. One that I want to beat.

The best way to overcome a fear of public speaking is to speak in public. So I’m pushing myself to do just that.

wayupIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you I got a job as a campus rep. I now work for WayUp, a job/internship listing site designed for college students and recent grads. It’s an awesome way to find positions easily, since you can apply with one click and they send you emails with updates on new openings in your interest areas. It takes all the stress out of the job search process and also breaks the cycle of needing work experience to gain work experience.

A big part of that position is making presentations to different groups on campus. I’ve already given 9 presentations in a week of being employed, and it’s gotten a lot easier to speak in front of groups.

In fact, when I got up to read a poem in my slam poetry club this week, I didn’t shake at all. I felt a little vulnerable, but I didn’t shake. 

If we were having coffee, I’d turn it over to you. What personal goals are you working on? Are you afraid of public speaking?

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21 thoughts on “If We Were Having Coffee (Public Speaking Edition)

  1. Congratulations on overcoming this unconscious fear! I know when I am doing public speaking, if I rehearse my first two or three sentences (not memorizing, but just practicing letting the words come out of my mouth) several times before my presentation, then I’m OK. I know my material, and I’m not afraid of being in front of a group. But just making sure my mouth can move and my thoughts can flow automatically for the first few sentences gets me over that initial uncomfortableness, and it usually goes fine.

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  2. You described the cycle of not nervous nervousness that turns into actual nervousness perfectly! It does go away with practice, though, as you’re finding. :) I used to feel the same way, but not really anymore.

    Lately I’ve been working on establishing better time management skills. I’ve gotten into two bad habits both of underestimating how long a project will take (and then rushing to finish at the end) and not focusing on getting things that really need to get done and doing them first. I’m using a lot more timers and schedulers to get better!

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  3. That’s a great goal! Public speaking is a very difficult thing to do even for most practiced people. Sounds like having the opportunity to get up and speak more frequently is helping to make it easier for you. I am always working on something (are we ever done improving on ourselves?) but right now I’m trying to get a bit more organized in my life! I’m always running a little late or forgetting to fill out paperwork, etc. but I know if I can get a grip on that things will go much more smoothly!

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  4. My personal goal right now is to put myself out there in Thailand while still remembering to take time for myself. This transition to a new culture has been really, really hard for me!

    The best way to get better at public speaking is DEFINITELY to public speak. I joined the speech team my junior year of high school and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I used to be so scared to go up and give speeches in high school–to the point where I couldn’t breathe and would be gasping for air during my speech–and the speech team helped so much with that. I still get a little nervous every time I go up to speak publicly, but nothing like how I used to.

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  5. Even when I was teaching, I was not a fan of speaking in front of a group. I could do it, but I never enjoyed it very much, and it always made me nervous—especially on first days and such.

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  6. Goals: be more proactive with my work and getting involved in things. Being reserved won’t get me commissions! :)

    The problem I used to have with public speaking was that I’m so comfortable in front of people (performance background), I’d get a bit cocky about it and underprepare notes or an outline for what to talk about, and as a result I’d ramble about anything except the topic.

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  7. Public speaking is fairly nerve racking, and definitely something that gets easier with practice. I used to be okay at public speaking, but haven’t done any for years. When I had children I found I’d get tongue tied when reading them bedtime stories, but as they don’t care about my nerves only about the story, its become much much easier. Hope you have a great week

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  8. I love giving presentations. My classmates say that I’m really good but even my voice trembles and my already slurred speech exacerbates.

    The trick I learned however is making sire you have in depth knowledge of the matter.

    Nice job! I’ll know who to contact when I’m in the states then. ;)

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