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Updated on Tuesday, June 17

#19299

OMG: I have a fear of public speaking and really want to get better. It has prevented me from doing my best at school and in social situations. I'm looking at some of my courses for the Fall and individual presentations are a huge part of them. For one of the classes, I've to give a speech, then there's a question & answer part where I've to engage the class (they ask questions, I answer; vice versa). I'm soft-spoken and ridiculously shy (and I hate it), so I'm already extremely anxious about how I'm going to pull off these presentations. 

This time I can't get out of the classes, as they're required for my major. I have to do well in them too and want to. What do I do? How can a socially-anxious person be less fearful of class presentations/having to get up and speak in front of people?

9 comments

  1. I think public speaking is a huge fear for most people. My dad's a prof and he says every time he gives a lecture he always gets nervous. I think the only way that this situation will change for you is through continuing to do it and exposing yourself to your fear.
    Public speaking is nerve wracking but its become a major part of people's lives and careers. We cannot allow our lives to be ruled by fear so we have to go out and conquer them.Good Luck OP, I know you can do it!

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  2. Man OP are you in luck! Luckily, UW has a toastmasters chapter which helps people improve their public speaking skills! Check em out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/192120460828149/

    They're a really great group of people who are really supportive and understand that public speaking can be really intimidating

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  3. What's your major OP?

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  4. fake it till you make it.

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  5. 1.I like to think of everyone in the class as my friend when I'm presenting. If I mess up they won't think anything of it. And if they laugh then I'll laugh along with them, we all make mistakes. Perfectly acceptable.

    2.Make sure you know your stuff really well, that you understand what you are talking about and don't need to refer to your notes. Make it seem like a conversation rather than a presentation people like that interactive/engaging feeling. When the presentation is like a conversation rather than reading off a script.

    3. 90% of the time people in the class aren't paying attention to the presenter anyway, they might in the beginning but soon they start to tune out. So you are just presenting to a bunch of heads looking at their laptops

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    1. I completely agree with all of 5's points. Most people tune out during speeches and will completely forget/ don't care about any mistakes and stumbles you make. We all just want to get out of class. Nobody in the audience will purposely go out of their way to embarrass or hurt you during your presentations too.

      It's heard over and over again and

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  6. Hey OP, SPCOM student here. Maybe I can help!
    Public speaking a huge issue for many people. I don't know if this is a solution that would work for you, but SPCOM 223 is a Public Speaking course offered at UW and is often filled with students from other faculties (lots of engineering and math students!) who want to improve. I've found that course was very helpful and made me much more confident speaking in front of others. Honestly, practice is the only way to get more comfortable with public speaking.

    Some tips in the mean time:
    -Try slowing down as you speak. It makes you more coherent, and still sounds natural to the ear. It also gives you a chance to process what you actually want to say so you don't fumble over your words.
    -Don't have things written down word-for-word in front of you. I know that it is scary to do go in with fewer notes, but you'll come across as extemporaneous (practiced, but not perfect), which leads to a much stronger, more natural presentation. Write an outline on a piece of paper of points you want to mention, and then transfer key words from your outline to a cue card. I typically write 3 words in colourful, large font to help trigger my memory and keep my timing on track.
    -Record yourself! This is one of the best things you can do. An audio and video recording shows you what areas you need to improve on. Do you fidget? Say "um" a lot? Pace too much? Speak too quickly? Use too many hand gestures? Watching and hearing yourself gives you direct feedback and shows you on what things to improve on exactly.

    Good luck! :)

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    1. As someone who took SPCOM 223 with someone who you could barely hear talk in one-on-one conversation, this.

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  7. 1) Lots of practice and get to know your topic well.
    2) Talk slowly and calmly
    3) Have eye contact (but don't stare at people or the prof)
    4) If possible, try to engage your audience during the presentation (e.g ask the class a question; however, this may be difficult to incorporate but it keeps everyone engaged during the presentation)
    5)Try to anticipate any questions that you may be asked and have a rough outline on how you would answer the question.
    Remember to try your best!

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