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elbanditoroso's avatar

Public speakers - does the size of the crowd make you more nervous?

Asked by elbanditoroso (15950 points ) July 10th, 2014

I have given various speeches, presentations, and talks over my career. Some were to groups of 20–30 people. Many have been to an audience of 250–300, and two were given to an audience of close to 1000 people.

The small and medium sized groups – not nervous at all. The larger group was more daunting to me, just because of its size. (And perhaps because there was a spotlight pointing on me as well, but that’s a different issue.) Even though I was talking about a professional issue in which I was very comfortable.

Does the size of an audience have a bearing on how at-ease you feel?

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11 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think so. I think my nervousness has more to do with how confident I am, or lack thereof, in the subject matter. I haven’t spoken before very large audiences though, so I might be wrong about how I would feel. The largest is a few hundred.

dina_didi's avatar

Not that much. Usually I am trying to feel like I am talking to my friends when I am speaking in front of an audience. Because of this, I am not nervous and I don’t look if there are many people in the audience. When I stop talking, I try to see how the audience feels and if there are many people or not. That way, size makes no difference when it is about public speaking.

jca's avatar

Yes.

Khajuria9's avatar

Yes, to a certain degree. It also depends upon the educational background of the audience.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Not really. It can be harder to connect with individual people if it’s a large audience. If you’re a nervous speaker, that means a smaller crowd might be worse.

gailcalled's avatar

For yearsI spoke regularly to groups of 100 or less in small auditorium and was very comfortable, because I both knew my material and many in the audience. I also felt safe opening up the session to questions and answers. If I was caught not knowing something, I just said to talk to me privately after the session. Then I admitted not knowing but would do the research and get back to the questioner. That took care of that anxiety-provoking problem.

If the audience swelled to several hundred or larger, and I couldn’t make eye contact with the last row, that would have taken some getting used to, initially at least.

Blondesjon's avatar

Nope. The more the merrier.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Not so much the size of the group as who is in the group. A large, or even very large, group of people I don’t know is fine, a small group of my peers ’!!!’ That makes me so nervous.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

My first public speaking appearance was a poem I recited for my church when I was 3½. I was nervous before I started. I saw a woman in the front row hush the wiggly little boy next to her.
All my life I had been told to hush and sit still. Someone was being hushed, so I could be heard. That meant it was all MINE! The minutes were for my voice, and people were listening to me on purpose! I was hooked.
I finished my poem, got real applause and smiles!!!!!!!! I was told by a few that I could recite again any time because I did great.
To this day, no matter how many eyes are pointed in my direction, it’s MY TIME, and I don’t have to hush until I’m done, and I love it.

Harold's avatar

No, the bigger the better.

DipanshiK's avatar

In my experience, more the confidence and more the eye contact with the audience less stress you’re going to feel. When I give presentations about anything I tend to look right in the eyes of the people, giving them a chance to listen to me and being comfortable with me. This way they divert their attention to me and when I know that people are intersted in what I am speaking, the jitters rule out. The size of the audience doesn’t matter, what matters is a layer of confidence.

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