majahops

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My stepmother committed me to talk to a class of students with ADD about my story of going from straight F's in sophomore year of high school to getting straight A's through the rest of high school and going on to get into medical school.

HOWEVER, I have terrible, TERRIBLE, TERRRRRIBLE stage-fright whenever I have to get up and talk in front of people. I forget everything I had planned to say and just sort of look around, stuttering, saying "like...", "umm..."

The talk I have to give is coming up in a week. Does anybody have any advice on == MED ADVICE COMPONENT EDITED OUT = I might take or strategy I might use to overcome the stage fright? I realize a more long-term approach is probably worthwhile looking into, but for this, I need something quick.

Thanks so much ahead of time.
 
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funkymunkytoes

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I can see the pressure, especially because it's about you achieving something most people can't--getting into med school. With that comes the pressure of sounding very erudite, but just be yourself! No one is expecting a flawless presentation consisting of nothing but polysyllables. You accomplished something great, now just say what you have to say and be you. I know, it's easier said than done, but remember, your audience is your friend. They're there to see you succeed and here what you have to say--they're on your team.
 
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majahops

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15-18

... But I can assure you that it's beyond me "just reminding myself of who I'm talking to" or that I don't have to seem perfect. It's a purely physiological thing.

What age are the students?
 

amph119

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Down a few beers beforehand. Problem solved :]

(kidding of course)
 

sirius08

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As someone who has gone from painfully shy to public speaking on a regular basis, I can empathize. Try to relax and focus on your breathing. Look around the room and look directly at individuals, as if you're talking to one person at a time. You could even mention your stage fright as an ice breaker; it can be part of the "journey" that you're sharing with them.

Stage fright eases with practice, so if you're nervous, it's okay - just accept that. Facing your fears and being brave is an awesome thrill.
 

sirius08

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p.s. It's not "purely physiological"... stage fright is a perfect example of mind-body interaction.
 

majahops

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No, you're right. I regretted using that phrase even as I was clicking submit. What I meant to say is that no amount of reasoning has ever done me any good at all.. it just overcomes me boom! :(

But you're absolutely right it's NOT purely physiological. Poor wording.

p.s. It's not "purely physiological"... stage fright is a perfect example of mind-body interaction.
 

sirius08

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Instead of trying to outright conquer it in one shot, take an easygoing approach with yourself. Even if you're nervous, that's okay. You're going to make progress eventually and with practice. An attitude of patient mastery is what you're going for here. ;)
 

laryngo

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As one with a performance degree, what always worked for me is remembering to breathe!!! When you get nervous, your breath becomes shallow, not allowing a sufficient amount of oxygen. You get the shivers and can only say a couple of words per breath. So before you go on the stage, stop, visualize yourself as a confident speaker, breathe deep and low into your abdomen and back. Do this for a good couple of minutes.

Moreover, though I don't know how true it is, my voice teacher always recommended a banana for nerves. . . . Like others have said, just be yourself and real.
 

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You will not cut out "Ums or Likes" in one speech. It is impossible. Move around as you're talking. It takes your nervous energy and puts it to good use. You should also consider taking a public speaking course if the thought of speaking in front of a crowd makes you nervous.
 

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Remember that your audience is supportive and they are rooting for you... it seems silly, but I think it goes a long way to remember that no one is judging you. Fear of putting yourself out there is generally just fear of the audience. Break down the crowd into individuals. Be confident that you could tell your story to an individual (which I'm sure you can or you wouldn't have gotten into med school :D, congrats btw...). All you have to do then is tell your story, bit by bit, to individual people. Make eye contact, it will seem scary but ultimately will relax you. Good luck!!!
 
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searun

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Watch the film, "Reefer Madness."
 

bluesmd

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majahops. in a class i took, they start with teaching people to fixate on objects around the room, and move to different points located among the audience. this way you can appear to make eye contact but you don't. so hopefully you won't get the stage fright.
 

majahops

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Wow. I am overwhelmed by the empathy you guys have shown me. Whether or not any of these suggestions go a long way (assuming I am able to implement any of them, which is always the hardest part), I really do appreciate your support! It means so much.
 

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The biggest thing you need to realize is this takes practice. I consider myself a very good speaker, but it definitely took a lot of time.
 

sirius08

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And to be kind to yourself. Don't let fear have the upper hand. If you let yourself screw up, your fear has no power.
 

sirius08

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Right - the fear here is just your own standard of perfection, waiting to jump on any little mistake you make. If you are okay with making mistakes, there's no harsh judgment to punish you.
 

majahops

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Ah yes, alas, the response I was looking for. Thank you kind sir!

To the others who offered suggestions, thank you SO much, they really did mean the world to me and I will incorporate all of them into my long-term strategy to dealing with my stage-fright. But in the immediate future, I think I'll be seeking better living through chemistry. :p

2 words: beta blocker.
 
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Climberak

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Self hypnosis works wonders. It has helped tremendously with my piano performances. PM if you have any questions.
 
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Best way to get rid of stage fright? Seek more public speaking. The more you do it the more routine it gets and you start to speak naturally.

Edit: obviously this won't help your particular situation since the talk is so soon but it is a good idea for the long run. (being able to speak in front of people is a great skill to have, and one not enought people try to cultivate) In the short term I'd just say make sure you practice ahead of time but don't write anything down. Cue cards are just an unnatural device that hinders extemporaneous speaking. Just have a few points that you want to make or an outline in mind. Talk as naturally as you can in front of some people ahead of time and do it more than once. Don't feel the need to repeat exactly what you said before, just say what comes to mind naturally.

Oh yeah, and the one thing I can recommend for the practice to help on the final is to focus on body language. If you keep the body language calm it should help keep you calm and thus help reduce the stage fright. (but again biggest thing is don't try to memorize anything)
 
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D

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Everyone saying "do more public speaking" is right on. Short-term, just try to go with the flow as best you can.

I was like that through high school. Had to take a public speaking course in undergrad; didn't change much. Always was a twitchy public speaker -- quiver in the voice, slight babbling, the usual.

Then I got into TAing. That took care of that little problem fast, quick, and in a mother****ing hurry.

(Incidentally, and as inspired by the piano mention above: given a passionate topic, I've always found that it gets progressively easier to "lose yourself." Dunno if you're a musician, but at least for me, I do my best at the piano when I'm playing for others as soon as I feel like it's just me.)
 

majahops

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Dang. I just received an infraction notice for asking for medical advice. Certainly didn't mean to violate any rules. Sorry.
 

majahops

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Thanks so much for this! Great info. I don't even really know what I'm going to talk about... Perhaps I should worry more about that and less about my stage-fright haha.

Thanks again!

Best way to get rid of stage fright? Seek more public speaking. The more you do it the more routine it gets and you start to speak naturally.

Edit: obviously this won't help your particular situation since the talk is so soon but it is a good idea for the long run. (being able to speak in front of people is a great skill to have, and one not enought people try to cultivate) In the short term I'd just say make sure you practice ahead of time but don't write anything down. Cue cards are just an unnatural device that hinders extemporaneous speaking. Just have a few points that you want to make or an outline in mind. Talk as naturally as you can in front of some people ahead of time and do it more than once. Don't feel the need to repeat exactly what you said before, just say what comes to mind naturally.

Oh yeah, and the one thing I can recommend for the practice to help on the final is to focus on body language. If you keep the body language calm it should help keep you calm and thus help reduce the stage fright. (but again biggest thing is don't try to memorize anything)
 

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Our discussion forums are not the appropriate place to either seek or offer medical advice. Everyone is free to offer advice on strategies, but we must avoid suggestions on any types of medications.
 

majahops

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Understood. Although, I would say that there are far too few places that you can get advice on medications or treatments from anybody but a doctor, and sometimes its tough to just call up your doctor and ask on a whim... a lot of people out there are able to give reasonable feedback to these types of questions, because they've taken the medications or have friends/family who've taken them... but that is neither here nor there... I understand your point. Thanks HumidBeing.
 

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Since a long-term solution like "get lots of practice" is sort of out of the question, the next best thing is knowing what you're going to say. Maybe a practice run or something like that. Do NOT take a preprinted speech. Maybe notecards that say "talk about sophomore year- talk about senior year - talk about whatever"

You've had interviews and you're gotten acceptances, so you can do this. This should be lower stress than any interview.

The last 30 seconds before speaking and the first 30 seconds of the speech will be the worst. By the time you have finished 2 sentences, you will be in the flow and know where you're going and what you're doing
 

VanBrown

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Practice ahead of time, a lot. Other than that... if it is a large enough room to have a spotlight you probably won't see the people anyways... if not scan the room while you speak. Being comfortable in front of a group of people takes practice and time but anyone can do it.

Speak clearly and concisely and you should be fine.
 
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URHere

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In my experience, the very best way to get over stage fright is to get yourself very very excited about whatever you are going to be speaking about ahead of time. In your case, this may mean going over some of your old things from high school, to essentially re-live what the experience felt like to you at the time. If you can get to the point where you genuinely want to give this speech for what it is (rather than as a favor for your mother), I'm willing to bet that most of the stage fright will all but vanish.

You wouldn't take an exam cold, so why would you give a talk without making yourself remember and feel as much about the topic as possible?
 

Devalmont

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As someone that shared your awful stage fright, but now finds himself teaching a group of 14-15 y-o high school students chemistry, I can attest that the best way to deal with stage fright is to over-prepare. Make sure that you know what you are supposed to say like the back of your hand. If you can put your words in auto-pilot, you can put all of your energy on fighting the stage fright. Also, I know you said that you're beyond the "just remembering who you are talking to" but if you think about how insecure you were in high school, you'll realize that they are in a much worse spot than you are. Both of these work for me.
 

kac714

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i had to give a talk at a national science conference. one thing that helped was, i gave the talk like 10 times to my boss. she sat in the front row when i gave it, and the whole time i just looked at her, which made it sooo much easier.
 

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If possible, have the class sit in a circle and sit down yourself. Ask them questions. See what they already know about ADHD - what are their questions and concerns?

While you are sure to have some points you want to address, have a back and forth conversation with them. It is much less stressful than delivering an address, and you are more likely to give them the information that they really want to hear. Work a little to connnect with them. And if you are like most people, once you get the ball rolling, your nervousness will diasppear.

Always remember, you audience is almost always pulling for you. They want you to do a good job so they can learn from you...
 

littlealex

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This is hard to explain but it's about controlling the room. When you're on that stage, exude power and control. That is your room and your audiences. It's all about you. It's okay to be awkward, it's okay to be nervous. Accept those things, use it to your advantage, but never forget to dominate the room.
 

cheshir3

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as a painfully shy person, I can definitely emphasize. My advice is

1. find a sympathetic/nice/interested looking person in the audience and focus on them. Not all the time obviously, since you don't want to creep them out, but I've found it helps make it seem like you're talking to one person as opposed to a big group.

2. have something to lean against, stand behind, etc. I think having a large object up there to play off of makes it easier to look relaxed and confident because it helps cut down on fidgeting due to nerves.

3. Think beforehand of how awesome you're going to be. Try to not stress out and imagine it going badly. That'll just make the stage fright worse.

Good luck!
 

majahops

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Again... Thanks so much everyone for the thoughtful advice. They are all valid, even the "drink a beer" one has it's merit. Thanks so much again!!
 

fish89

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Wow, what an amazing story you have to tell!

It helps me to go onstage with a few frames of mind:

1. Don't think about the audience.

When I prepare for my speeches, I'm all about writing to the audience's point of view (just like the saying goes, "write to your audience"). So I'll think about what they would respond to, what resonates with them, how to spin things to make them more appealing/ powerful. But when I'm on stage, I'm all about being inwardly focused. I don't think about the audience's facial reactions, their thoughts, or what they think of me. As soon as I get on stage, I tune out all of their thoughts (or what I think they are thinking), because admittedly, at the moment when you are presenting your speech, what other people think doesn't matter. If you've prepared ahead of time, none of what you're planned to say is going to change depending on if they think you're cool/funny/boring, etc. So just tune out. You know what you are going to say, you know how you are going to do it, and you know you CAN and WILL do it well.

2. Believe in what you have to say.

You work hard to prepare ahead of time, make it really good, know what you have to say is really good, and then go onstage knowing that you have all you need in tow. Nothing else matters. You have a good speech to give; what's to worry about. Just believe! Confidence - in yourself, in your speech - this is the best way to overcome stagefright. I just tell myself "I can do this" and I set my face as flint and I don't let anyone or anything or any doubts get in my way.

Best of luck!
 

cbrons

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on a more serious NOTE...

Dave Matthews has stage fright. Look @ what he does. He just stares down at the ground while performing. If it works for him, it can work for you too.

ok, ok...

You aren't going to completely overcome it right away.. the best advice I can give, having done multiple speeches and presentations in front of a large audience, is controlling your physiological response. Become aware of how fast your heart is beating, how fast your breathing. Slow it alllll down. Take slower breaths and force yourself to look like you are calm. Make slow movements and just slow the room down. Go get em champ
 

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As someone who had major stage fright, I think I can offer you a few suggestions. My first one is to set your standards really low. Admit to yourself that you will mess up and screw up a few times and that it is PERFECTLY FINE!! that's way if u do mess up, it will be no shocker and u can continue talking!! also take deep breathes. this is very crucial b/c i remembered i would have shallow breathing while presenting. by acting more calm, your body will naturally calm down too and ull feel comfortable.

no one is perfect at public speaking and i still mess up still. I have just learned to live with it and continue on like nothing happened...
 
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