Fear of public speaking

Discussion in 'Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting' started by amazonian, Dec 23, 2007.

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  1. Hi there,

    This is a rather new problem for me and I was wondering if any of the good people here at RR could help me out. I have recently developed a very severe form of "stage fright" whenever I speak in front of a group of people. Basically, my body has some sort of panic attack when I speak (my heart thumps so hard I can hear it in my voice, I can't control my breathing and my airway closes up giving my voice a weird tone).

    This only seems to happen when I'm told to speak in front of people, for instance when I'm at college I can answer questions in class fine, but if I am told to read a passage from a book out to the class I get these panic attack symptoms. I obviously need to do something about this in the very near future as I want to become an officer in the royal navy and I don't think they are going to want a person who freezes while public speaking.

    *For those of you that are thinking that I am just not cut out for officer if I can't speak in public, please note that it is a new thing for me that has just started in the last few months and that before this I had no problem speaking in front of groups numerous times in my life before now.

    Any help/advice you could give will be gratefully appreciated.
  2. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    Hi Amazonian, being apprehensive about speaking infront of people is entirely natural. belive me I've had to do presenting work on a stage infront of 10k+ people, its scary as fcuk.

    Try not to worry about it, work out before you start what you're going to say, deep breath and get on with it. Talk to the back of the crowd, dont do any eye contact stuff (unless your talking to a camera), move your head to the left and right so your audiance thinks that your speaking to all of them and give a sh1t.

    If your not nervous something is wrong. Best of luck.
  3. You will have available some of the best training in the world..
    It is how you react in a team person and your understanding of procedures that will be paramount.
  4. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree that it is normal to be nervous and I can handle a bit of butterflies in the stomach. But this is paralysing stage fright. The nearest thing I can compare it to would be the feeling you get if you think you are going to get into a fight or that you are in some sort of physical danger, you know that surge of adrenaline you get in those situations? That is what it feels like so I don't think that it's normal.
  5. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Having spent many years addressing large audiences across a wide range of civil, social & military peer groups, I think it's fair to say that everyone, if they're honest, suffers at least "butterflies" before they start. Once they get going, most people slow down to a gallop & relax a little.

    As you progress up the promotion ladder, you naturally become more adept.

    The problem is when it manifests itself in such a way as to strike terror into the speaker- the problem feeds on itself & the more you worry, the more you make it worse. You need to break the loop.

    Try talking about a subject with which you are very familiar, with a group of people (family) you are relaxed with, then gradually progress beyond your "comfort zone". Take one step at a time, consolidate & set targets gradually.

    If it becomes a deep-seated psychological problem, then you need professional help, starting possibly with hypnotherapy. Hopefully it is not that serious & you can push through it. The thing to remember is that everyone is inwardly shy- we all adopt an outward persona to "act" our way out of it.

    Good luck to you.
  6. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    No, it is normal. Use the adrenaline rush to your advantage, if you can,try to inject some humour or a joke within your first 30 seconds of speaking, it will put you and your audiance at ease. Even start off with saying "I dont know who's more nervous about this, me or you"

    The audiance will be on your side, most of them will be thinking "thank fcuk it aint me up there".

    You will never lose the fear factor, learn to use it to your advantage.
  7. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    it's a common problem, you'd be surprised just how many people suffer from "stage fright", being a little nervous is fine although if you can get over it completely you will come over as more confident and find it easier to express yourself in public. By the sound of it, the fact you have never suffered with this before, it probably stems from an event; try and remember what that event was and analyse it. Did you stumble over your words, was someone critical etc it may have been something insignificant which is now preying on your subconscious.

    This is a form of anxiety which stems from our natural protection system, we don't want to make a fool of ourselves because it damages our perceived opinion of what others think and damages self image, fortunately it's also a load of old bollocks.

    People, except young kids who are still forming their own self image, don't actually look for every flaw in what we say or do, in fact they care a lot more about how you perceive them than how they perceive you, this is true of every meeting, lecture, party etc etc. You need to understand that when you are anxious about public speaking. One "trick" of public speakers is to never stare in the audiences eye, half focus your eyes and allow your eyes to wonder around the audience, try and work out who has the biggest nose! If anyone is falling asleep, fidgeting or being a pain in the ass stare at them, this draws the audience's attention toward them, their own self image protection will kick in and they will buck up.

    The hardest groups to deliver to are one's with which you are familiar, friends, long term students etc but if you are familiar/ friends etc you are unlikely to be anxious anyway.

    In short: forget about making mistakes it doesn't matter, focus on the reaction of your audience(not the actual audience) and manipulate them, be yourself; don't attempt to put on a news reader like persona. Good luck and hope this helps.
  8. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Oxygen kills adrenalin, so lots of deep and calm breaths before you start. Preparation (until you are confident to ad lib) and plenty of practice. If you have notes, learn them inside out, and speak slowly - if you speak too fast you'll run out of time and confuse everyone present. Try not to concentrate on the number of people listening, whether it be 10 or 100 people; just imagine you are talking to just a few individuals... however, do not 'lock on' to one person in the front row, as this will make them uncomfortable and alienate the rest of the audience.

    Keep it brief but informative; allow the audience to ask questions at the end of the presentation, as they will distract you and you will lose confidence. Try to use visual aids (powerpoint slideshow, demonstrations, etc.) as this allows the audience to listen to you but look elsewhere, which will make you less nervous. Keep jokes to a minimum; you're giving them information, not doing stand up!

    Good luck, and let us know how you get on! :thumbright:
  9. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    These are the notes on oral briefings that are given to students before they attend the Intermediate Staff Course.

    They may be of some help....
  10. I used to get pretty bad nerves speaking to groups, I found the best remedy, as ninja said, is to practise, and practise in a safe environment. I felt like a twat talking to my family, so I joined toastmasters (a worldwide public speaking organisation) and it actually (despite my deeply ingrained cynicism) helped tremendously, not just with nerves but with delivery and confidence too. It's a bit daunting turning up there and speaking if front of a load of other people, but many have the same problems as you, and, the best bit, they'll get booted out if they take to mickey. Also, you want to join the armed forces, you need to get used to daunting! It's also pretty cheap, or in some cases free, and there's shit loads of their organisations in the UK, heck I found one in Hamilton NZ and this place is a dump I tell you.

    Looking at what I've written above I do read like an advert, however it may be worth a look.

    Google toastmasters, they have a webite with locations of groups, what it's all about and so on. Oh and don't believe them when they say it's fun, it ain't, but it isn't particularly unpleasant either.
  11. the old adage of pretending everybody is naked just doesnt work

    therfore go to the next level

    you get naked - or if you cab get them to get naked as well

    do your speech with a semilob on and you'll do just fine
  12. Im dreadfull at public speaking

    For our English GCSE's we had to do a presentation.
    And so i did it on the Navy rambling on about HMS Invincible and i mumbled like a 4year old i cant talk in public at all. I ended up saying "i like ships" and still get ripped for it too this day.

    You just gota not look at people, thats what i do when im modeling just look forward nd smile haha :D
    It will go fast
  13. We have all had that thing going along the line why are you here. You tend to think my throat will dry up when it is my turn.

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