anxiety · public speaking · social anxiety · Thoughts and feelings

Speaking Nerves

This post will be kind of different. If you clicked the audio link within this post, you’ll hear my voice reading along with what is written here. I’m in the midst of recovering from a cold and have been especially prone lately to an itchy throat that comes out as a dry cough. I hope I can get well soon in time for my group presentation I’ll be doing on November 29th for a class assignment.

My normal speaking voice is pretty soft. The volume and tone in which I am reading this post is typically how I sound in real life when I’m talking to another person. I am not used to being very loud when I talk. In many instances, I also have a bad habit of slipping into a lower speaking tone when I feel intimidated from speaking to an audience of several people. I find this happens even in a semi-casual setting of being around only a few people, like with some of the in-person club meetings I have attended. The hardest is not speaking too fast, which is a common mistake I make when I am nervous. This causes my words to blend together and then the other person doesn’t hear me clearly and asks me to repeat what I just said.

I find that it does help to talk about the anxiety associated with public speaking. When I visited my professor during office hours last week to get his opinion on my project, we got to talking about that. I’ve been in his class this semester listening to him give Powerpoint lectures for more than a half hour at a time. I had the impression he was always comfortable giving those kinds of talks, but he told me that even after years of giving class lectures on topics he knows well, he still gets nervous from time to time.

I can see the practical reasons why my professor wants his students to give presentations on a topic of our choosing. It’s a good way to show what we learned in class. Had I not gone to him during office hours, I wouldn’t know that he specifically wanted us to pick topics that would help us down the line in our career paths.

The easiest thing to forget about presentations is that they shouldn’t be so scary. This assignment is about sharing information with other people. Another person who I spoke with said that even the best public speakers have to practice a lot before they do it. So that’s what I will try to do, too.

My topic of choice for the presentation will be a general overview of composting, the ingredients and mechanisms needed for composting, and how certain factors have to be in balance for composting to work well. This all sounds very science-y, and in a sense, it is. The other half of the presentation is meant to explain how composting is an occurrence that can naturally happen on its own, however, composting is also something people can learn to do as individuals and with other people in their own communities.

I’m lucky I have a partner for this assignment because it means we can take turns per slide with talking. I don’t think I could handle speaking for the entire eight minutes that we are presenting. The primary problem would be my voice would likely get tired from speaking non-stop. Having a few moments where I can get a break could possibly ease the pressure of constantly having all the attention on me.

Featured Image by Jason Leung on Unsplash.

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