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longgone's avatar

Got any advice for a teen who gets extremely nervous about oral presentations?

Asked by longgone (17090points) April 16th, 2015

I’m asking this on behalf of my sister, as well as another teen I am tutoring. I’m can’t be of much help, because I am horrible at speaking in front of people I don’t know well.

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15 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Join Tostmasters. Your local library should have info.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I had always been nervous talking in front of people until I did it quite a lot. Record yourself from the audience perspective (during a real presentation) so that you can see if you have bad speech habits to avoid. Sometimes you just don’t notice them until you see them on film.

Bottom line is that it’s ok to be nervous – no one is there to bite you. Being in front of people can be challenging, but that’s ok too.

johnpowell's avatar

I’m assuming this is for a class. My advice is to go as early in the queue as you can. Get it over with.

Nothing is really going to help with being nervous.

Might as well go first while expectations are low. It might suck for five minutes but once you are done you can relax while the others are just as freaked out as you were.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

As someone who used to facilitate classroom training, as well as train new presenters, there are plenty of tips. The most important ones are:
* If you don’t understand and, more importantly, believe in the topic, it is almost impossible to deliver the message well.
* Make sure that the information is spelled out in a logical and concise format. Stick to it.
* Practice. If possible, do it in front of an audience and preferably one that has a remote interest in the topic and is willing to provide feedback on both content and presentation skills.
* As @Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One points out, nervousness is not only okay, but a good thing. It’s a sign of caring about effectively getting the message across.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Practice your speech a few times in front of people you know. Even use your phone, or other recording device, to record yourself presenting the speech so you can observe your physical presenting traits too. I find the more confident I feel that I know what I’m going to say, the less nervous I feel.

When they feel nervousness becoming too much, stop for a moment, sip some water, take an opportunity to breath for a second. Depending on the situation, I find asking the audience a question can help diffuse the tension for me.

Remember, the audience don’t know exactly what you were going to say, so if you forget something or make a mistake, they probably won’t notice it so don’t stress too much or let it throw you off your stride.

LostInParadise's avatar

I agree 100% with @Earthbound_Misfit . I took a mandatory speech class in high school. My mother had me do speeches in front of her until they became second nature.

chinchin31's avatar

Just see people as people.

Everyone has their own insecurities , including the people that seem to be confident about everything. Some people are just better at hiding it.

Also in the long run… no one really cares.

Trust me . I am an adult now and I don’t really spend much time thinking about high school.
Most of those people you will never see again after you leave school .

Just say what you have to say. Imaging you are talking to yourself at home in your bedroom.. except look in their direction :). Or imagine you are talking to your best friend or something. Don’t think about what they might think.

High school is just one phase of your life. It doesn’t necessarily predict your future. Just chill and do your best.

Uasal's avatar

I find it easiest to have a good script, and to focus on my vocal projection. Cut the audience out of the equation and make it a performance.

Pandora's avatar

I taught my children two things about making oral presentations in front of a group of people. There are those who go to listen and will simply either object or agree or be indifferent. Then there are those who go because they have to be there. They will not care one iota of what you have to say. They just want you off the stage so they can hit the snacks and will applaud every time a person finishes because that means they are much closer to hitting the snacks or going home and forgetting the whole thing. So basically you are there only for those who truly want to hear what you have to say.

And what the will more than likely judge (which is what most people fear) is the points that agree with. What they don’t like, washes out of their ears like toilet water down the toilet. Unless you went out of your way to offend people. Then that is another matter. Oh, and look slightly above the heads of the people in the center and don’t make eye contact and smile. Unless the topic is something grim. Smile when you first come up on stage. It is helpful if they have someone up front that they know.

Afos22's avatar

People get nervous when speaking in front of people mainly because they feel like everyone is judging them, about how they sound, the words they use, and their looks. In order to not be nervous when speaking publicly, someone needs to not caring that they are being judged, not care what people think, or ignore/pretend that they aren’t in front of people. It is exceptionally hard for young people to dismiss their peers judgment because they feel that they need to fit in. So in order to not be nervous a young person needs to be exceptionally mature, have a good imagination, or have plenty of practice being the center of attention.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@Afos22 is so right. I’ve given lectures about giving presentations and one of the key points I make is take your ego out of it. If you can stop worrying about what people think about you, you can focus on the message(s), idea(s) you want to get across. I do realise that can be easier said than done. That’s where the practice comes in.

Judi's avatar

A little theater trick. Look at their foreheads. From their perspective it will appear you’re looking them in the eye.

longgone's avatar

Thank you, all! Lots of great advice to pass along!

Esedess's avatar

The best way to duck anxiety for speaking is to know, really know, the material you’re talking about. If you know more than just the words in your presentation it becomes less a matter of speaking verbatim and more an exercise on conveying information you are passionate and knowledgeable about to others.

Mint's avatar

Public speaking is about eliminating uncertainty. How long does it need to be? Is there to be a form of QA? Is it an open forum? Every choice in their presentation should be geared to meeting a need of the target audience (their class and instructor) with them in mind. Encourage them to roll with the mistakes made. Discourage stopping to, “restart”, share that it’s OK to mess up, forget things, but to ultimately move on and continue.

They must be fluent with their material. Practice it with you viewing and critique them. Get them used to being critiqued, adjust presentation based off of your input and practice it more. Add in distractions if time allows. As they gain precision, act out possible speed bumps. Anticipate, in order to eliminate uncertainty they may have. Elimination of uncertainty will yield confidence.

Most presenters will inherently always feel some level of nervousness regardless of preparation. Think sports, actors, it’s fine. Just try to eliminate what you can through all of the above information. There are a lot of great tips shared in this thread.

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