Hey folks, going to try keep this short and sweet.
I have a serious problem with public speaking, if I'm talking and more then 2 people outside of family or close friends makes me really uncomfortable. Can't pinpoint where it came from, have never been that person who just says what's on their mind but seem to be more aware of it as the years go on. So much so that I think it could actually be social anxiety. I analyse everything, thinking about how people might react before talking
Anyways I feel it is having a bad affect on my lifestyle and in particular holding me back career wise.
I see answers on Google like do public speaking classes or cognitive behavioural therapy but has anyone found or can suggest other ways of over coming this 'fear'?
Toastmasters might be a good idea, even if Google thinks so too.
Not your ornery onager
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Toastmasters will help you with public speaking. It would help in a structured way. You would prepare a speech on something, have time to think it over, put your argument together, rehearse it, practice and then deliver.
This would then lead to you feeling more confident with impromptu, off the cuff talking to a group.
But the one thing you need to convince yourself of is people aren't half as interested or analytical as we often think they are. Everyone, absolutely everyone is preoccupied with their own stuff to be all that bothered by others! They might fleetingly think something you said was odd, they might equally think something you said was brilliant. But a minute after you've said it, they've moved on.
If you find Toastmasters too formal- even though it isn't - there are meet ups in Dublin weekly for public speaking. Its a slightly different format, smaller and might be more appealing. Venues are Northside near Smithfield and Southside Ranelagh area - google to find.
One of the posters above made a very important point - people are not over interested in you and the moment will pass. A ploy I found to be very helpful, although counterintuitive, is to pause as if you are 'stuck' and look at your audience. You are then the one in control -when and whether to restart. You will find you, the speaker, are in control, and that the fear is not in control of you. Until you become confident preparation is very important. Best of luck from someone who had a dread of it but now enjoys it whenever the opportunity presents itself. Its one of the most common fears people have so you are not alone (at this stage).
It's the sort of thing that really improves with experience and time and I've grown to quite enjoy public speaking in the course of my work. I even did the eulogy at a relative's funeral very recently and was happy to do it and excited about it. But I wasn't born this way.
There are a few key things I've realised over time that really helped - the first has been mentioned above by others already: most people are not that interested or judgemental about what you're saying and in most environments they're actually willing you to do well. It's nice and comforting to remember that. In more challenging environments, I find it really helpful to remind myself that most people are not that clever or good at their jobs and I'm probably doing a better job than they would. I had a job a few years ago that involved sitting in a board room with a lot of older grey haired suited men who were oozing confidence and I was pretty intimidated at first. I gradually began to realise that most of them were bluffing and were quite lazy and useless in their work and that I could run rings around them intellectually - so it was merely an issue of confidence. Knowing that made me grow in confidence and now I constantly remind myself that I'm doing a better job than most. It's also very useful to recall all the very many incredibly boring speeches you've had to endure - aren't most of them (whether at a wedding, funeral, work event, meeting) really really crap? They are in my experience. So then I tell myself, well at least if I keep it short, I'll be doing better than the long boring ones and people will be grateful and think positively about me. So just keep telling yourself you're no worse than the very worst, or better than average (or whatever version of this you want to tell yourself) and that makes you realise it's not such a big deal and it's far easier than you've been building it up to be. Don't hold yourself to some impossibly high standard - that you need to be the best orator that ever lived. Almost no one is. Remind yourself of that and take comfort in just doing an 'ok' or unremarkable job. And you might even end up doing a very good job - brevity and a bit of humour always work wonders!
From a young age I had a stammer. Not the worst by any means but was there. HATED public speaking like reading in class
Anyway, by about 18 I came to the conclusion I couldn't give a continental fcuk what anyone thought of me or what I was saying. Not for everyone that method but since then I've had no problems with best men speeches, lecturing or important work presentations
Remember, people on the whole want the best for you. I've never done Toastmasters but heard it's excellent
Try to grow into the speech/presentation and enjoy it
You might find it helpful to talk to a therapist, to explore the anxiety, if that is what it is, and work on strategies to improve your confidence. There certainly are ways, as mentioned in previous posts of working on public speaking skills. In terms of work, there also are courses to help with interview skills, if that is an area where you feel a bit unsure.
I remember reading once that we are often comparing our own insides with every one else's outsides, which stuck with me. So while others can appear effortlessly confident and at ease, they too might be experiencing doubts about themselves and what they are doing or saying. They have just managed to cover it up, or make the nerves work for them rather than against them.
Being a good listener is a skill too, that should never be underrated.
excellent advice from Hilda
Thank you everyone for all your detailed feedback. Some very useful bits ye have highlighted to me there. I don't have any best man speech coming up, and don't need public speaking for work as such as I am in construction but would to just love to be able to engage with people rather then avoid because I'm worried they will think I'm an oddball or someone else will listen in and think the same thing. I will definitely check out that toast master as well as public speaking classes as mentioned above.