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  1. #11
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I identify with the feeling that you are kind of split off from yourself, watching yourself and making critical comments that induce more self-consciousness. When I was younger, it wasn't even people I was scared of - I felt foolish even in front of myself when I had to practice doing things that were not within my normal range of comfort, because I was something of a perfectionist. I didn't want anyone to see anything but the best version of what I could do before they critiqued it (I wasn't so much afraid of the critique as I was concerned about them seeing the best version before they commented) and I'd put off perfecting that because it made me feel so inwardly uncomfortable.

    I love speaking in public now, but that was not always the case. Here are a few things I've discovered are helpful:

    1) Familiarity with what to expect brings a high comfort level. We are generally afraid of being surprised by something and looking foolish in front of people we want to impress. Doing anything well requires practice to become proficient at it. It is easy to make excuses in your own mind about how it just comes naturally to some types and not others. Some types may be less likely to avoid certain opportunities so they have gotten more practice in, but it is not that anyone naturally knows what to do in every situation. Practice is what makes the difference.

    If you have to speak publicly, you should have given several trial runs in a less threatening environment so that you learn what to do if you unexpectedly run into trouble and so that your adrenaline level is reduced to what is useful instead of what will induce heart failure! Do not make your main speech the only trial run you have. The more you know what to expect, the more comfortable you will feel. If you can, practice once in the venue you will be speaking in.

    2) Your audience will notice and judge you much more on how you recover from your mistakes than whether or not you make them. It is very likely that you will make some mistakes. Make sure you have an idea of how you will deal with it so that your audience feels that you are in charge and will be just fine.

    3) Know your material, and find a way to link it to yourself or others so that you are enthusiastic about it. Allow your passion about what you have to tell them to outshine the fear you feel in delivering it. People will pick up on your excitement and passion, even if they don't start out excited themselves. By knowing your material well, you not only reassure yourself, but you also then have room left in your head to focus on your audience and making this a fun or useful experience for them.

    4) Practice speaking slowly enough and enunciate carefully. The number one thing that makes listening to a speaker unpleasant is when you cannot clearly understand them. The ends of sentences and words particularly tend to get thrown away. By enunciating well, you do not have to "turn up the volume" nearly as loud. Highlight the areas or words in what you are saying that need special emphasis and practice delivering it that way so that your audience can readily pick up your meaning. If you state something important that they need to remember (like a point in an outline), pause slightly to give them a chance to absorb what you are saying. You have a paper in front of you and know what you are going to say. They don't and need time for it to sink in before hearing you expand on it.

    5) Find concrete, tangible elements for your delivery to focus your attention on. You should have several default areas/people in your audience to make eye contact with and try to project your voice towards. This ensures that you are not ignoring anyone, and allows you something specific to do that will calm your nerves. Skylight's suggestion about breathing from your diaphragm will help ensure that your voice is not strained and will also allow you to focus your attention on something tangible. Find out what your nervous tics are and replace them with something less distracting to your audience.

    6) Look for low stress situations where you can become comfortable performing or speaking. This may be in the context of a larger group (like a choir, band, sports group), it may be doing some kind of teaching, it may be volunteering somewhere, it may be speaking on a subject at a kids group or community event, it may be looking for different forms of service towards other people (older people, people in hospital etc) reading to them and so on. It would be especially good to seek out environments that are low stress, but unfamiliar to you.

    For me, over the years I've become much more comfortable interacting with old people, people with mental health issues, physically or mentally challenged people, immigrants or non-English speakers, people from other cultures and so on. I've realized that the common thread is learning to take the focus off of myself and focus on what the other person's needs are. If I'm not sure how to best interact with them, I've found that it's often useful to ask! It's awkward at first to know how loud to talk to a hard of hearing older person, or what to do if you don't understand something a non-native speaker says even after they've repeated themselves. It's hard to know what to do when you encounter a child in a wheelchair with profound cerebral palsy who cannot speak. Do you deal with it like a person who is mute? Like a baby? It's only exposure and asking questions that allow you to not feel or look foolish. Chances are if you feel awkward, other people also avoid those people because they are thinking of themselves first and don't know what to do with those feelings.

    This public speaking thing is a great catalyst for considering how you go about your daily life in terms of developing the confidence and range of experience to put your focus on your audience instead of your feelings about addressing your audience, no matter the context!

  2. #12
    The Duchess of Oddity Queen Kat's Avatar
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    Imagine that your entire crowd is sitting in their underwear. Problem solved.
    I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower. The TV was obviously on. I used to fly myself and I said, "There's one terrible pilot."
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  3. #13
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    I think when it comes to raising your voice and speaking/projecting louder or more directly than is your typical style, it'll at least initially involve a bit of acting and playing a role. Pretending you're that ENTJ. Over time it may become more comfortable. And, re. skylights' post, it does involve using your voice in a different way than you normally would - I'm not sure how to articulate this, but yeah, it involves more of the diaphragm and all of that. I also know for myself that I end up needing to pitch my voice lower than normal, when speaking louder.

    Re. generally becoming more comfortable in a public speaking/center-of-attention role, if you haven't done it already, I highly encourage you to practice in front of a mirror, and give yourself eye contact as you're practicing. Initially it's very disconcerting and pretty embarrassing, especially if you're noticing things about your mannerisms or facial expressions that you don't like or weren't aware of, but it also gets you accustomed to eyes looking at you (even if it's your own - hey, it worked for me!), as well as modifying and being aware of how you look to others so that you have more control over that as well and can fix what you think they'd find distracting or whatever.

    (Also, as an IJ, ad-libbing on the spot is NOT my strong suit, at all, and I just end up looking ill-prepared and I stumble over my words and because I'm embarrassed, that affects my confidence, and thus everything falls apart. Can't happen in a public speaking capacity!! So given this, I basically memorize pretty much everything I'm going to say, prior to going into it. Of course once you've memorized the general format and are comfortable with that, THEN it'll be pretty easy to incorporate spur-of-the-moment things depending on the audience itself. But having that solid structure so that you know generally how you're going to transition from one point to the next is essential. I realize this isn't really the part of it you're having problems with, but thought I'd talk about it anyway. )
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  4. #14
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    I'm an ESTP who is pretty soft spoken : laugh:

    I do a lot of public speaking for my job, and being the type of person who blushes easily I had to figure out how to get over it pretty quickly! I just tend to detach and focus on what I'm saying instead of that I am saying and it a lot easier!
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  5. #15
    morose bourgeoisie
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    What's with INFJ's and walls of text? lol

  6. #16
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    What's with INFJ's and walls of text? lol
    It's one of our defining characteristics!!!
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  7. #17
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Join your local Toastmasters.
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  8. #18
    Seriously Delirious Udog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousFeeling View Post
    In public speaking situations, I find it rather difficult to raise my voice loud enough without my voice sounding like it's in a cramped box, monotone (but I am fully aware that I sound monotone, and I get slightly embarrassed because I sound boring! LOL), and a part of me is holding myself back. I'm usually soft spoken, but project my voice really loud when I am angry. To add things up, I am almost too aware with how I am acting in front of an audience, and that ends up making me feel even more self-conscious ("God, I'm moving around awkwardly!") This ends up causing me to become less outspoken. Sometimes when I am dealing with a noisy audience that I want to quiet down, I have a hard time talking over them, and I feel like I am nearly shouting over them (but they still can't hear me because from their point of view, I'm too soft to hear!) I was wondering if any of you have some public speaking tips for the soft spoken introvert. What I aim for is to project more without straining my voice.

    If only I was an ENTJ 8w9 sx type, things would be so much better! LOL
    I had an INFJ friend who was really great at public speaking. When I asked her how she did it, she said that she just took on the "role" of a confident person who loved speaking to audiences. She sort of leveraged the fact that she was aware of her image to create, and mimic, the image she wanted.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    It's not about how LOUD you can be, but how you enunciate each of your words, and your pacing. If you are crisp and clear with each word you say, and your sentences have good rhythm (i.e., does not sound choppy or as if your sentences are justonebigsupercalafragelisticexpialadocious), you will naturally make your voice clearly heard, regardless of if you're soft-spoken or not [i.e., don't mumble/jumble]. Add colour to your voice, not loudness.

    If you need to pause, pause, refrain from trying to fill the gaps with "um", "uh", etc, and other fillers. It's especially a good effect if you are wanting a thought you said to sink in - to use that opportunity to add a pause, which allows you to also recollect yourself.

    And know your material well, which will make you more confident, which you will then project. Often, people will say a statement/sentence, and think in their head that they have to just get it out TO the audience, and in the end, only realize they're speaking FOR an audience, and you'll hear the tail end of their sentence loudly and clearly, while the beginning is a nervous jumble.

    When practicing, try reading your speech as if you're aiming to be a storyteller, as if you're explaining a story/idea to someone. That's pretty much what one's aim is in speaking to an audience.

    And, please, please, if you're using the aid of powerpoint, don't just read what's already on the slides. Also, don't read off papers either. They're to be used as your guide, not your lifeline.

    And, finally, practice makes perfect.

    Happy speaking!

    - From a public speaking aficionado [one place where I shine ]

  10. #20
    Unlimited Dancemoves ® AgentF's Avatar
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    1. practice.*
    2. know your shit.
    3. i sometimes visualize engaging The Dude in an interpersonal dialogue. calms and reassures me although i'm no white russian drinker.




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