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Yesterday I saw someone reduced to tears when asked to present orally… - Tactical Ninja

Mar. 11th, 2015

11:04 am

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Yesterday I saw someone reduced to tears when asked to present orally to a class of 12 people.

Public speaking is one skill that is inherent in almost any job above minimum wage, and it's something I've never been bothered by. I can't imagine what it's like to be that afraid of standing up in front of people and talking. And thus I didn't have anything to offer except compassion.

I'm not sure that asking people to do impromptu oral presentations with not much prep time is that helpful to overcome fear of these situations though.

Meanwhile, my confidence is fluctuating like a fluctuatey thing at the moment. Yesterday I could take on the world. Today? Yeah, probably best I just sit quietly and don't talk.

Comments:

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From:m_danson
Date:March 10th, 2015 10:19 pm (UTC)
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If it made a scared person more scared then it probably isn't helpful.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 10th, 2015 11:11 pm (UTC)
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I am wondering if now we're aware of the problem, our group could help this person by making sure that when she stands up, she has all the information she needs. I think part of the problem was that we had a very short time to prepare, and because she didn't speak up and take a topic she ended up with the one that we had the least coherent information about - thus she didn't have a good structure to follow and had to waffle it quite a bit.

Someone like me can pull that off quite well, but I can imagine that would make it even worse for someone afraid of public speaking - and helping her feel prepared is the only way I can think of to make it easier for her.
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From:sight
Date:March 10th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
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When I was in high school, I was so bad at it. I was terrified of it and did terribly every time. Over the years, I've gotten better at it, but it's never very good. Haha. Not like you and that cosplay interview you did. That was fantastic.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 10th, 2015 11:12 pm (UTC)
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Haha, thanks! To be fair, my parents were stage types - my family was involved in plays and music hall and stuff like that for as long as I can remember. So I kind of grew up performing in front of groups - as a result I don't remember how I learned, I just know that I've never been daunted by public speaking. Hm..
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From:randomdreams
Date:March 11th, 2015 02:26 am (UTC)
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Current level of self-confidence expressed in negative numbers.
Yet, I'd still be fine with standing up in front of 250 engineers and telling them why we're doing something different than they all recommended.
I dunno.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 11th, 2015 02:27 am (UTC)
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I can relate. That confident person who stands up is sometimes not really me.
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From:randomdreams
Date:March 11th, 2015 02:56 am (UTC)
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It's interesting that for me -- and for a lot of my coworkers, but oppositely -- they're unrelated. I have engineers who ooze self-confidence, are utterly sure they're right, but for whom even the thought of talking formally in front of ten people that they know is terrifying.
and here I am the exact opposite. I'm currently convinced that I know just about nothing and screw up everything, but since high school I've been able and willing to stand up and give an impromptu presentation on what I'm doing.
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From:clevortrevor
Date:March 11th, 2015 03:26 am (UTC)
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I dunno, not much prep time might be the best way to go. I've done live storytelling a few times and I have such a fear of talking in front of people... I'm sick the whole day leading up, and sick the whole day after. You're lucky not to have that hang-up!
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From:meathiel
Date:March 11th, 2015 08:05 am (UTC)
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I'm not very fond of speaking in front of people either, I have to say. So I feel for your colleague.
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From:thesecondcircle
Date:March 11th, 2015 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Presenting to groups one of the most favorite parts of my job. And I get a lot of positive feedback for doing it.

As for your classmate, I noticed that you said she also had a hard time speaking up to even choose a topic. That's pretty serious. The current thinking on treating phobias is exposure therapy. So asking her to do the thing she fears in small doses (while providing lots of nonjudgmental support) could potentially help.

I agree that the ability to speak and present is a critical job skill. This would definitely be a phobia that I'd want to aggressively treat in myself (I have a phobia of cockroaches -- exacerbated by growing up in the SW US desert -- and while it's annoying, it's also not particularly detrimental to my everyday life so I don't stress too much about it).
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From:girlguitarist
Date:March 12th, 2015 02:35 am (UTC)
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I feel for this person. I can dance, by myself or in a group, in front of 500 people and I'm fine. Ask me to present to 5 people and I will panic. I'm the same with having to call people. I don't even know what I am scared of! It's an irrational panic. I'm glad I found a career where I only need to talk to people one on two :)
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From:caycos
Date:March 12th, 2015 04:40 am (UTC)
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IME there are a surprising number of people who range from 'very uncomfortable with public speaking' to 'will almost certainly call in sick that day'. I have this in my team at work - we have to provide classroom training, and only certain people in the team are physically capable of doing it..
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From:pundigrion
Date:March 12th, 2015 08:19 pm (UTC)
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I find giving a speech/presentation is so much less stressful than actual smalltalk! There is a set sort of framework/script/subject at least.
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