View Full Version : Terrified please help
December 15th, 2003, 6:00pm
Those of you who I have had the pleasure of speaking to know that I am a college student. I have a class I am taking that involves public speaking every week. I have not been to this class in two weeks now to avoid this, I am terrified to speak in front of people. Does anyone have any suggestions??? I have tried pretending people are naked and it does not work. LOL I am never going to get my degree without this class. The last time I tried I ended up in the hallway having a panic attack. HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!
December 15th, 2003, 6:02pm
Oh man, that sucks. I feel for you, as I get sick to my stomach if I know I have to speak in public. I don't have any advice for you other than just do it....it does get easier (although never easy!) each time. Good luck!!!!
December 15th, 2003, 6:11pm
Pretending people are naked doesn't work, lol. I know what you are feeling - I just finished up a semester of Public Speaking with one of the toughest professors on campus. You mentioned that you had a panic attack and couldn't do it, well what I would say is that you have to get up there and do it (not meant to be harsh). I know one person that walked out of the class during the speech and the professor went out in the hall to get him. He told us that if he wouldn't have, the kid never would have been able to get himself back up in front of a group of people. For our class, we were up in front of the class at least 20 times over the semester answering a question, and then we had to give 5 speeches over the semester that ranged from 3-5 minutes and the last one I just did had to be 5-8 minutes long. My first speech, I'll admit, I was terrified, not sure why since I worked with the public, but I volunteered to go first and got it out of the way. A couple of hints: be confident, practice, practice, practice (talking to yourself in front of a mirror helps), give a speech that you feel confident on, and go to a happy place. Once you get that first one out of the way, it does get better. I actually enjoyed the class towards the end, and even cracked some jokes during my presentations (which were even videotaped by the professor).
Hang in there - I'm happy that it was a requirement for my course or I would have never taken it (though I did take conversational spanish, which you are talking in front of the class in Spanish, which is harder), also, REMEMBER, that everyone in your class is in the same boat that you are, and for the most part are feeling those same scary thoughts..I know you'll get through it.
December 15th, 2003, 6:12pm
I used to teach public speaking. Believe it or not, an incredible number of people list this as their greatest fear (greater than death, greater than losing someone, you get the idea). The answer isn't easy. You need to face your fear. Practice, practice, practice . . . in front of your family, friends, pets, the mirror . . . practice until you are so sick of practicing that you just want to get it over with. On the bright side, the adrenaline rush after is amazing.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
December 15th, 2003, 6:13pm
I hate public speaking as well. When I was in college I had to take a class and had to do 4 speeches in front of the class. My advice is be prepared. Really prepared! I did a little breathing before each speech and basically I had to do it because it was required. I just went in there, focused on one person or two, looked at the wall in the back. Pick a point low enough so it is almost eye level, this makes it look like you are looking at the audience. And I stuck to my notes and really concentrated on my speeches. I am also prone to freak out beforehand so I volunteered to be the first person at all times to get it over with. It was tough but you can get through it. Once you do it, it's not as bad. Good luck I feel for you!
December 15th, 2003, 6:14pm
Krystal, I am not an expert of any type. I am a Mom who has been a school volunteer for years. It was fine when I worked in small groups with the kids, but when I was asked to do a presentation in front of about 60 kids, I felt a little sick to my stomach, and hot and not sure of myself (these were 4th and 5th grade kids who knew me!) I just took a deep breath and started to tell the kids about the program Science Olympiad. I was a coach. Now I work with high school kids and I have to stand up and speak to them too. I still feel a little strange about it, but just remember they are only people. They might like what I have to say, or not even listen, but I have information for them and I will present it as well as I can. They can then use it or not. Most students are quite polite to me, a few seem to have other things on their minds.
In your class, when others speak do you listen politely? I bet you do. They will do the same when you speak. Don't let this become a reason to do badly in work or school. You can speak and present well if you prepare and know your topic. Have faith in yourself.
If you are having panic attacks and staying away from your classes, you might want to see a counselor or doctor about this. First give it another try. You should talk to the teacher and explain the problem you are having and ask if they can offer you any help, at least they will know what is going on. GOOD LUCK--You can do this!
December 15th, 2003, 6:18pm
I used to have the same problem---diagnosed as phobic anxiety after years and years of trying to deal with it. See a doctor. I'm taking proplanolol. It works wonders and it won't make you wacky.
December 15th, 2003, 6:35pm
I used to "present" at TQM meetings every month in front of about 30 upper management types at my old job and then once a year in front of everyone that worked at the company (aprox 100 people). It's not as hard as you might think;I have a harder time talking 1 on 1 with someone!
I always did what carogonza suggested,looked at a point just above everyone's head and making eye contact w/ only 1 or 2 individuals.
December 15th, 2003, 6:35pm
I, too, suffered through speech class. I was terrified, but I knew what I was talking about, and that helped a little. I really didn't try much else at the time. Now I am in law school, and took a class called Trial Advocacy, where I had to pretend that I was a trial attorney. Every day I had to get up and do something in front of the entire class. The worst was the first time; I had to give an opening statement. But, everyone thought it was really good, and they said I didn't sound or look nervous to them. So, everything I thought in my head (that they could tell I was nervous) was wrong. Thinking about it being part of my grade didn't help either. So, I tried not to think about it being for a grade, and tried to remember that everyone in class was as nervous as I was, and it got easier and easier. Toward the end of the semester, I had to do a whole trial. So, I would use my kids as jury members. One day my 4 year old, as my jury member, started yelling at me, telling me to quit looking at her. You kind of have to look at your jury. Then, she started swinging from the back of my shirt. That helped a lot, because no matter what my kids did, my jury was not going to do that.
Another hard thing was remembering not to focus on one sympathetic face; kind of scan down the rows, spending only a few seconds on each person. Practicing in front of the mirror as others suggested really does help also. I would laugh at myself, but it reinforced the information in my head, and the more I know the material, the more confident I am.
Good luck! Please let us know how it went.
December 15th, 2003, 8:23pm
I was a member of Toastmasters, a group that helps people become better public speakers. The most important thing is practice. The first time you bungee-jump is harder than the last time (unless the rope breaks). As someone else said, look at only a few friendly faces in the audience. Hopefully you have a couple people in the crowd that you are comfortable speaking to who can help. Remember that nothing horrible will happen if you mess up. Usually you feel worse on the inside than the audience will ever suspect during a panic attack. Assume you are doing well and you probably will.
I can talk in front of a several hundred people without fear. You can too with practice. Good luck.
December 15th, 2003, 9:20pm
You know, I got a "C" in my public speaking class in college. I was terrified, too. Now, I can get up and speak in front of people at the drop of a hat. But that's now. Back then, it wasn't easy.
What I have found is that if I know the subject matter or my speech well, I was a lot less terrified.
So practice, practice, practice.
And remember, everyone else is terrified, too.
December 15th, 2003, 11:09pm
I know, it's scary! Some time ago, I got a promotion to become a trainer at my company. I had never learned to do any public speaking, and I was terrified, but it got better surprisingly quickly.
A few things that I learned through experience:
Try to breath naturally. I used to take very deep breaths because I thought it would make me speak louder. I just ended up breathing unnaturally, which put me on the brink of panic attacks.
Focus on the subject that you are trying to communicate. Watch your audience to see if they're getting your points. Be more interested in their understanding than in your own self-monitoring. Once I came to view myself as a conduit of information, I stopped seeing myself as a performer, and I sort of got out of my own way.
Good luck to you. Believe me, if a basket case like me can become a charming and confident public speaker, you can too!!!
December 15th, 2003, 11:26pm
The nice part about college... it will end, but you won't, despite 'stage fright'.
I truly believe in wearing something that you feel very confident in (I like a deep red blazer that always makes me feel 'strong', but not 'loud'), picking topics to speak on that you are either very comfortable or well versed in (if you can't do that... be prepared; don't overdue this... but don't skip it either), and remember to slow yourself down... that includes your breathing.
If you are naturally shy, this could be painful, but I promise, it all works! The only way to get better is to jump in, do your best, and remember to smile. They won't throw eggs, hate you forever, or really remember much since it's my belief that most college students are generally thinking about one of two things anyway: food or sex, and since you are neither... well, probably to most of them... you should be safe.
You will be great!!!! Just trust yourself and do your best!
December 16th, 2003, 12:17am
I feel for you because I've been in your shoes. The first time I had to present in front of my class I thought I was going to pass out -- literally. I second what doctorstrangelove said about the propranolol: it works like a charm. Propranolol (generic for Inderal) blocks the flow of adrenaline so your heart doesn't race. I used to take one 10mg tablet about two hours before class. It did make me a little tired, but I didn't mind (and this is from a guy who doesn't take anything stronger than aspirin.) By the end of the semester, and with a LOT of practice, I had weaned myself off of it and had actually made my final presentations "drug-free." I'm not condoning the use of prescription medication, but it is an option that worked for me. Good luck to you.
December 16th, 2003, 9:16am
I used to be afraid of public speaking too. I would break out in a cold sweat and start shaking. I was very lucky to have a wonderful professor in college that got me over it totally. I ended up taking another speech course from him just for fun. Who'd a thought..lol
Remember the audience is made up of your peers and friends, they are pulling "for" you not against you. They are nothing to fear. Try to pick two of your closest allies to make eye contact with, it will give you strength. You are not before a firing squad, try and remember that. If you visualize them all with rifles when you first get up there it will make you laugh and realize your fear is just as crazy.
December 16th, 2003, 10:18am
Ok.....this is a huge fear for me as well...........but I overcame it with Karaoke. My mom and her ex (thank goodness) did karaoke around at local clubs and parties. Well everyone was having a good time and me and a friend finally got the nerve to get up there. After about the 10th time I did this I learned not too look at anyone but to look just above everyone and it works great. Now if my hubby is in there then I can make eye contact with him but if not then I try not to make direct eye contact with anyone. It never bothers me now to get up in front of people. I finally had to just go for it and do my best to get over it or I would be missing out on a lot.
December 16th, 2003, 12:11pm
Hi Krystal fellow Schenectadian,
I too am petrified.
And I have a job that takes me around the country teaching topics for my job. I am no terrifie of that. I have testified in court, most of the time I am just a little scared. But the church I belong too has a lay ministry and various members give talks on religious subject and I am so petrified ( I would even be throwing up in fear) that I stopped going for a while. Even giving a prayer freaked me out. The Bishop came to my house and asked me what is happpening and I told him andnow he will not ask me to speak.
So why is it easy for me on one hand and not easy on the other. I think it is because I really really know my subject on the job more then anybody else I am teaching or giving a speach or testifying. I know it so well that all I need is the topic and I can talk for 30 minutes without prep. So then what is my advise for your class pick a subject you are familar with really familar with or at least get familar with.
The last thing is; you need this class you have no choice so buck-up and just do it. As bad as it is, it will not kill you or one of your kids. What is the alternative don't get a degree? Bad choice.
December 16th, 2003, 4:57pm
Are you going to SCCC? I am too and just had to do a speech for my Lit class. I was absolutely terrified. But, I chose to go almost first and was very relieved to have it over.