How can a socially awkward person survive a college course that requires presentation?
I am like super anxious and shy in social situations and two of my courses require presentations in front of my classmates. In my grades it says things like, "Says 'um' and 'like' too much" which guts me and scares me (more things to be self-conscious about.) I'm striving for an 'A' in all my courses because that's how I roll, but I'm worried that my lack of social graces are working against me. People say, "oh, just feel confident, people can't tell you're nervous," or "Everyone is nervous," or "act like you always do." The thing is, I ALWAYS act socially awkward because I AM that way. :S
Having a well planned presentation with good structure is critically important. The structure of your outline or your notecards will be the most freeing thing when you are speaking. The structure can help you develop confidence in your ability to deliver your speach. Relying on your structure will help you understand you can act confidently. Then you will begin to feel more confident with practice. Confidence starts with how you think. Then the confident feelings eventually follow. Thats why you need to relly on the structure of your outline or note cards. When you take the time to properly logically structure your speech on paper, and outline, or note cards, this provides the plan you need to realize you can give the speech well. This will help you give the speech and eventually begin to feel good about doing it.
Brandon makes some great points. It is perfectly already to have a pause where no noise is made. Project yourself into those silences by using your eyes or body ... Look at someone or three people... take a step forward....raise your hands slightly. A planned silence also adds weight to your words. But these are all advice about making a good speech.... To get over the fact that you must stand up and be the center of attention is yet another things. First of all you have to realize that you are important... It is your opinion of yourself that matters most. Second, it helps to realize that most everyone in that class is going through the same sense of anxiety as you... in that... you are all related. Find three people in the class that you know and speak your speech directly to them. Keep things simple. Rehearse your speech with a timer and in front of a mirror... watch yourself. Blackmail your friends into helping you practice and let them know that you are trying to NOT say um or like. Practice, practice and practice... you will be fine anyways... you're brilliant.
I see you're asking this of Simone, but I hope you don't mind if I weigh in with an answer too.
If you have any control over the speech topic then make sure it is something you are very familiar with:
For example, if you were told to give an impromptu speech on a personal topic, you may feel awkward. However, if the impromptu speech was about programming languages your awkwardness may start to take a backseat to your knowledge.
Next, I identify your "crutch" word:
For awhile I did computer training for pharmaceutical reps, sometimes groups up to 50 at a time. So I was very aware that my crutch word was "ok" and it was so much easier to catch myself saying it when I practiced, when I knew what it was. All I had to do was replace "ok" with silence, which became easier to do the more I practiced.
Clearly, the more you are prepared, the more your knowledge outshines your awkwardness and the easier it becomes to avoid using a crutch word. So practice a ton and practice standing up.
All that being said, you can't change who you are. If you are socially awkward, then own it. If you focus on changing it for a few minutes for your speech you will probably just feel anxious. You are who you are. People come in all different types of personalities, and how bland and boring would it be if every speech giver was a carbon copy of each other. That is not what your professors expect. But practice, practice, practice.
I used to be socially awkward. I forced myself a little bit of a time to be a little more sociable. I have a lot of friends and aquaintances now. Your fellow students feel just as awkward giving presentations as you do, even if they don't show it. What's the worse that can happen? If you make a mistake, you will lighten the mood of an otherwise boring class. Good luck to you. You can get that A. Picture your classmates in their underwear.
I used to be terrified of public speaking - to the point where I would cry, not be able to breathe, etc. I contacted one teacher privately and explained the situation. He let me make a videotape of my presentation and play it. Maybe that's an option for you? The other thing that helps me is going first. I HAVE TO GO FIRST. Otherwise, I sit there and obsess over my presentation while everybody else talks.
If you keep telling yourself that you're not good at giving speeches, chances are you'll never get much better.
The only way to get over fears (or not let worry you as much) is to face up to them.
Why not find a public speaking group and get a bit more experience? Ignore the excuses and reasons why not and just dive in and do it.
As for the 'ums' and 'likes' just replace these with a pause. Silence in a speech is incredibly powerful.
When I try to make a presentation in school, I got very nervous as well. I was horribly terrified.
But now, I think of it as talking to a bunch of friends to tell them about such and such, and I'm not as nervous. I make presentations at work all the time, and when I think of myself as a teacher, telling people what they need to know, then the focus is on the facts and not on me. They are not people looking to get entertained, so it is completely all right for me not to be perfect. The less perfect I try to be, the fewer stumble I tend to have.
P.S. It helps to have props, so people are looking at them instead of looking at you.
Know your subject so well that when the presentation is over you could go an other hour talking about it. I'm that way talking about agriculture, politics, green technology, and earthworm growing. Pick something that is failproof that you enjoy. As Gary Vaynerchuk would say If you're into Smurfs write a blog about Smurfs! You could make a million dollars talking about smurfs if thats your passion.
Not cool with public speaking? Yeah, I wasn't either, especially because I exude awkwardness. Thankfully, I've overcome my presentation/speech-giving fear. Here's how I did it! read more
I read a book recently that really helped me with my terror of speaking in public. It is called "Taming your Public Speaking Monkeys" by Dee Clayton. Everyone's different but this just made loads of sense to me. She makes you take control of the negative voices in your head by making you think of them as monkeys! Then you learn to communicate with them and tame them. It worked really well for me. Here's some more info on the author's website: http://www.deeclayton.com/page/overcome … -help-book
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