Uhh… my Fiction professor wants me to read one of my works aloud in front of a bunch of people for a presentation on tuesday. The thing is, I get really nervous in front of crowds. She said that it’s a great work, and that she has confidence in me since I’m so outspoken in class, but this is going to be front of more people than even a typical lecture classroom.
Uh- does anyone have any experience doing stuff like this before? I only have to read my short story, which is only seven pages long, but still… I’m kinda nervous. o_o;
Don’t try to memorize the entire thing, and don’t just stare at your paper and read it. You should be able to pretty much recite it with occasional quick references to your paper. If you try to memorize the entire thing it’s easy to screw up.
It doesn’t really take a lot: some practise, some active breathing and the knowledge that the audience aren’t vicious rabid dogs who want to eat you but humans who’re interested in what you have to say.
Read through your paper (out loud) a few times before you go up to read it. I know you probably have, but just keep reading it a few times so you can get the flow down, and find parts that you kind of trip up on so you can keep those in mind.
There’s nothing you can do in those situations except dive in. Its like jumping in a cold pool. At first you’re really apprehensive, then you jump, you are REALLY uncomfortable at first, but as you go on, your body gets used to it and you’re no longer cold.
It worked the same way for me when I tutored small groups and auditoriums full of students. Look at the bright side: you don’t have to answer questions about complicated concepts for 2 hours, you go in the front you take a deep breath and you go. At first you’ll be nervous but as you talk about what it is you talk about, it’ll flow. Don’t think about the people, just focus on what it is you’re trying to say.
I’m sorry to say, practice makes perfect. The first few times you go in front of groups, the worst it is. The more you do it, the less time it takes for you to get used to it and the less anxious you feel about it. After tutoring 7 classes at UCI, I was STILL a little nervous before giving the big review sessions, so the anxiety itself won’t go away. What matters is how you respond to it, how well you can keep your cool (and in cases like mine, under pressure). In the end, if you didn’t prepare a little bit for it you will do worse than if you did.
Something you’ll notice is that the way people teach is often related to how people cope with this kind of pressure and anxiety. When you meet a prof 1:1 they’re often very different than when they’re in front and this is for a variety of reasons. When you do this enough, you develop certain habits, certain ways of saying and presenting things that help facilitate your experience. These kinds of experiences are things all people should go through, it’d give them a better appreciation for what their teachers and profs go through.
I have trouble speaking in public… I’ve accually Volenteared to Speak in frount of a crowd more than once… But since I was relaxed in the location… I have spoken in fount of 2 different churches and a Class… All three I had be come settled in the place…
I must be the rare type of person that can usually do public speaking at ease. I guess it’s just my way of throwing in jokes all the time to take the pressure off that makes it so easy. I suggest you approach it in a less-serious manner, and that you try to have fun with it. If you find yourself get nervous, well, keep going. I usually get the shakes when I have to speak in front of a class, aswell as an increase in heartbeat, although it goes away pretty fast once you get into it.
Another thing would be to maybe try to forget you’re talking to an audience, and just pretend you’re reading it outloud in your bedroom. Public speaking really isn’t that scary, it just seems like it.
Reading aloud through your story several times will allow you to read it without staring down at the page all the time. Make eye contact. Pay special attention to what comes after the page breaks in your story; that way you can proceed from one page to the next without pausing while you turn the page and look.
And for interested parties, Speech professors refer to this as “Oral Interpretation.” It’s a different bird from other kinds of speeches, as you have to accomodate material that might not have been meant to be read aloud.
Well, the thing is, I don’t know why I get nervous. I don’t care what my peers think, because half of them are idiots anyway. I only really care what the professors think, and some of them are idiotic even after obtaining Doctorates. I also have much confidence in my story. I just don’t have confidence in my speaking abilities; I’m afraid that I am going to embarass myself. If I ever want to get a MFA, I’m going to have to read much longer pieces out loud in front of a huge audience. Even if I don’t get an MFA, later in life I will have to speak in front of several people at one point in my life or another. If I avoid speaking in public now, it is only going to fuck me over later in life.
I appreciate the advice that many people are giving me. I just have one thing to say: