Public speaking – me?!

28 05 2007

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

And what if you’re deaf and need to do public speaking? Isn’t it one of the most terrifying things to ask a deaf person to do? Hearing people are often too nervous to speak publicly, and avoid it where they can. But I usually enjoy it.

Why are people so scared of public speaking? A common reason is fear of looking foolish in front of an audience. But hey, when you talk to a friend, you are talking naturally and without nervousness. So why can this not be carried over to speaking to a group? A lot of people are scared of being judged by others. But give this some thought. Your friend is more likely to judge you than a stranger would, as he/she has a personal interest in you, whereas a stranger doesn’t.

Okay. You may think your contribution may be ridiculed, or that an audience will think your speech to be tosh. If you think this to be the case, remember they asked you to speak for a reason, to speak about what you already know. If you don’t, then you can arm yourself with the information beforehand. If you have a sense of humour, use it. (I can tell you, this works like a charm.) If you’re worried about projecting your voice loudly enough, use a microphone and speak to the person at the back of the room. If you’re not confident with technology such as Powerpoint presentations, don’t use it. Use other methods such as interactive group work, or a whiteboard, or even markers and paper – there are lots of different ways to get information across. If you’re worried they are all looking at you, don’t. They will be too busy concentrating, taking in the information being imparted to them.

Preparation is the key. Know your topic. Take control of your presentation and know your material. Rehearse. This will give you confidence.

Being deaf will naturally make this job trickier. Ensure you have the appropriate communication support you need, brief them beforehand and give them time to relay the dialogue or the sign language. Check beforehand with a hearing person, that you project your voice enough to be heard – you can practise in the empty room before the audience comes in. There is a device called a tactile speech simulator which may be useful, this alerts you to your correct voice level. I had a major problem with voice levels when I trained as a lip reading tutor, it took me many months to get this right. But once I did, it somehow stuck in my brain and I have been fine ever since. It is possible to get training on public speaking.

So, to recap.

  • Believe in yourself
  • Be confident
  • Play to your strengths
  • Know your topic
  • Prepare your presentation
  • We make our own boundaries – the only thing holding you back is yourself….

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    9 responses

    28 05 2007
    Lantana

    I loved it! Very easy on the eyes (and the heart!)

    Believe it or not, when I was a student at a residential school, me and my schoolmates got to take tap dancing lessons! We loved it. Luckily we had a nice wooden floor in the auditorium where we had the lessons, so vibrations were very good. Your video here brought back old memories! Thankyou.

    Lantana, Lantana’s Latitude

    28 05 2007
    LaRonda

    Wow! Where did you find this clip at the end? Is this you or someone else? What a fantastic idea that was to dance around different places in the world!

    ~ LaRonda

    29 05 2007
    dsboyce8624

    I have this fear. I usually get through it anyway, but I hate to do it.

    Never have figured out why.

    Dennis

    29 05 2007
    funnyoldlife

    Lantana – glad you liked it 🙂

    LaRonda – the clip is from YouTube, it made me laugh too.

    Dennis – I believe it’s to do with perceptions. Managing your perceptions of how others see you, hmmm?

    30 05 2007
    Macian

    Lol FOL, good video, made me smile,
    although i was waiting for the comment at the end,” all over the world and i still can’t dance”
    the mad things people do eh

    31 05 2007
    Shari

    I have stage fright, too. My heart races and my hands shake. I have had to do a number of things in front of the classroom full of students in the past three years. (I went back to school after twenty years.) I have always been shy and self-conscious. I guess I don’t have a lot of self-esteem. But the more I had to do a presentation, the more I got used to it. Of course, I got used to the other students, too. I still get nervous, but you did make a point: The audience doesn’t know me like a friend would.

    Using humor is good, but what if no one laughs?

    Thanks for sharing.
    Shari

    31 05 2007
    funnyoldlife

    I get the odd group where they have a total sense of humour failure. If it happens, I move on. I always have a number of funny comments up my sleeve and they usually laugh at *something*

    I get the feel of the audience and go with the flow, so no two sessions are ever the same. The best advice I can give is, just be yourself. If they don’t like me, tough 🙂

    8 06 2007
    Steve

    I have a total fear of public speaking. In my various jobs over the years I have been asked to give talks and I have mostly managed to avoid doing them. I can talk easily in groups and meetings but I think there is a certain extra expectation when you are standing in front of people who have made time to listen to you.

    If I’m honest I think that most of my worry is that because I would be talking to a large number of people I may not be able to hear someone from the audience if they asked a question. In a group it is easier to say pardon – if I was in front of an audience with all eyes on me and I had to ask someone to repeat themselves it could get very uncomfortable indeed.

    14 06 2007
    Fintan

    I am very shy and defensive *honest*

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