Social Anxiety Disorder

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Public Speaking: Crash and Burn, or Speak and Learn

There are a number of "creative" tips that are taught to people who are nervous to speak in public. These creative bits of advice designed to help you get over being scared are not only stupid, but will likely hurt you and make you feel worse.

Picture the Audience naked. This seemingly pornographic advice refers to imagining your audience in some position that lowers their perceived power. Other variations on this theme include, "Picture them in their underwear" and "picture them on the toilet." To all of these (and especially that last one about the loo), I say, "Ew." And how distracting! Not only do you have to remember your speech but now you have to visualize people in unflattering positions? No thank you. Instead, visualize yourself delivering your speech calmly and confidently. And as for what to do with your audience? Look at them as people interested in hearing what you have to say and strive to make a connection with them.

Instead of making eye contact look at their foreheads/chin. Or Look at the back of the room. Really? People do notice if you're not looking them in the eye. Unless you are in a large auditorium on a stage far removed from the audience, people will be able to tell if you are avoiding eye contact. Plus, you always risk coming across a person with a double chin, a mole on their face, or pimples on their forehead. I don't know about you but my face tends to change when I spot these things. How awkward would it be for not only you but the person your looking at if you are looking at them, and while your staring at them make a not so pleasant face... how embarrassing! Instead, find people who seem genuinely interested in what you are saying and speak to each one individually during your speech.

Start off with a joke. Only start your presentation with a joke if you are a priest delivering your Sunday homily or a comedian. Or if the joke is completely relevant to your speech....
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