Public Speaking Anxiety

Last week, my review center asked me to give out an inspirational message in one of their free seminars for Nursing students--in the spirit of paying it forward for their 25th anniversary. I was advised of the task about a week earlier, which allowed me some leeway to prepare for my supposed speech. I dilly dallied on coming up with a spontaneous material and a well written thought out composition. Since I do not fancy the idea of possibly going blank in front of a large audience, I chose the latter.

I procrastinated on doing my material, writing it the day before my actual speaking engagement and finishing it the morning--since inspiration has not chosen to dawn on me days earlier (or possibly the other way around). Anyway, I thought I came up with something decent. It was neither goosebump raising nor earth shattering, but one which is concise, direct to the point, and somewhat inspiring (or something bordering that point).

On my way to the review center at around 11 last Saturday, I was praying that my fortunate/unfortunate audience can really get something out what I will flood their ears. Although I had something prepared, I knew that good intentions can only do so much, and the final outcome shall always be what God wills it to be. My mother offered to drive me to the review center. When we finallly reached the place, I began pacing around like a crazed chicken sensing a brewing storm.

Even though I had tried to imagine what the supposed scenario would be like, seeing my audience and finally coming in contact with the vibe of the environment, I just knew that reading a two page doubled spaced speech would paint me as an obnoxious out of touch braniac. So I had to do spontaneous. Basically I just pruned my composition to its fundamental elements, and patched it with related thoughts which could somehow make my speech coherent.

So came my moment of doom. Right before I was introduced, the RCAP staff played some videos and introductory material. My stomach was having the time of its life and doing somersaults-- I felt like I was going to have diarrhea. My mind eventually travelled to previous public speaking encounters, and minus case/class presentations and our thesis defense, I figured that my public speaking experience is almost close to zero. The only instance I could think of was when we presented our spot map to our community back in second year, and even then I was jittery, to put it lightly.

And so I was called to give out my inspirational message. My introduction was fine-- as for the rest of my message I think I developed it far better than I initially planned it to be, although my delivery sucks. I knew it didn't evoke inspiration as much I as I wanted to, since the students replied a not so resounding yes when Mrs. Medrana asked them after if they were inspired. (haha). Nonetheless, I think it was fine, since Ma'am Medrana thought it was nice, and I practically said the things I prevented myself from saying in my rigid composition.

The first time I did it was average, the second was poor. I think the anxiety pushed the envelope for me and goaded me to expand my ideas. The second one was a mimicry of the first, though it was much shorter. I was so relieved that it was over, although I wish I delivered it better. Anyway I don't care much about myself, what I really want is for those students to realize that it is actually possible for them to top the board exam. I hope I somehow achieved my purpose, even in the most minute sense.

Should I have prepared better? Would it have been different If I had memorized my speech and actually recited it like an orator in front of them. Was it from the plain lack of preparation or do my nerves always get the better of me? Why do I melt all over the place whenever I have to speak in front of people I dont' know?

How do you tame public speaking anxiety?


Kevin in Manila said...

How do you tame it?

You just face it enough times and you eventually get used to it (although you may still be nervous--but you get used to that too).

I'm terrified of public speaking, yet now I do it all the time. confessions . . .

Kevin in Manila said...

Another trick: imagine the audience in their underwear.

Though with some crowds, that may may be even more frightening :)