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Speaking in groups or in front of people

Sab

Well-Known Member
Hi! I just started a new semester at school and feel pretty burnt out after a week. A lot of the classes I have this semester require speaking in front of the class to present projects or have discussions. That is something I've always really struggled with and I am noticing dreading going back for that reason. For me, my mind often goes blank when speaking in groups so I don't really feel capable of thinking and answering questions on the spot. I have bad experiences from the past and low self-esteem, which makes it even harder.

I think struggling with speaking in groups or in front of people is shared by a lot of you and I'm wondering how it presents for you, if some of you want to share. And if some of you have managed to get accomodations from teachers when it comes to that.
 

Stuttermabolur

A psychologist said so
V.I.P Member
Of course we are all different and struggle with different things, but for me what really has helped more than anything is to practice a lot. The more I've practiced, the more confident I feel about what I'm saying and the less anxious I feel as my body sort of goes on autopilot while I present. Some tips I have is to look past people, not at them, allow yourself to pace or move while talking instead of being rooted to the spot (this both helps me stay calm a sort of "tick" as well as making you look more professional) and if you can, try to learn the presentation well enough so that you don't need to look at your talking points. Speaking in front of people is anxiety inducing, but the anxiety gets less pronounced the more I do it, to the point that I feel quite confident in my presentations now.

Answering questions is more difficult however. The only suggestions I have here is to consider what people might ask about and have prepared answers and to give yourself a few seconds to take deep breaths and gather your thoughts before answering. I wish you the best of luck in your studies!
 

Sherlock77

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Everyone, ND's and NT's, struggle with public speaking... Apparently it's the number one fear of most people

I can do public speaking reasonably well, but have never had a job that required public speaking (ie. typical office related jobs), I have done a couple of presentations in the past to my camera club and done well enough with it

I would suggest getting very familiar with the project you are working on for your own confidence, and just focus... Although this comes fairly naturally to me, so I'm not sure I can dig out any tips, but you are not alone in this, there are probably other students in the same class who feel the same way... Perhaps talk to the professors about it, they might even have some tips of their own to share...
 

UberScout

Please Don't Be Mad At Me 02/09/1996
V.I.P Member
Living in the same house as my family, we're always speaking together. All too often though one of us will say something that gets misunderstood somehow, and it's all downhill from there.

I swear man, if I was on TLC, nobody would ever stop watching us. We'd become meme, celebrities and social icons all in one day.
 

Owliet

The Hidden One.
V.I.P Member
Hi! I just started a new semester at school and feel pretty burnt out after a week. A lot of the classes I have this semester require speaking in front of the class to present projects or have discussions. That is something I've always really struggled with and I am noticing dreading going back for that reason. For me, my mind often goes blank when speaking in groups so I don't really feel capable of thinking and answering questions on the spot. I have bad experiences from the past and low self-esteem, which makes it even harder.

I think struggling with speaking in groups or in front of people is shared by a lot of you and I'm wondering how it presents for you, if some of you want to share. And if some of you have managed to get accomodations from teachers when it comes to that.
That’s understandable that you will feel burned out after a week of a new semester. I used to have the same every academic year — and even with work, I still have (had) this feeling. It does get easier but make sure you also give yourself time to relax also. That helps to recharge the batteries.

I had to do a lot of presentations at university. My first one, I was on my own and I had to speak in front of a whole group who were also not really interested in what I was saying (well, it felt like it was and I was really anxious) I dreaded it. Really struggled with it. Tried to get out of it but unfortunately it was part of my assignment grade. I did it. Ended up having a bit of a breakdown in the bathroom with people in it which was highly embarrassing. I had a lot of practice at university and I had a lot of practice during my work internship. It does get easier (why do I never take my own advice when it comes to phone call making?) and with more practice it helps. You may never feel fully in confidence with this but if you have a nice teacher, it can be helpful to talk about any concerns that you may have first. Whilst my first one I had to do, I did tell my lecturer that the presentation was really freaking me out and I needed to be able to escape afterwards to refresh (although I didnt think I’d cry). Be open. I have made my students in the past do presentations (I am horrible) and I’ve had a few come to me to tell me that they are anxious. I have always given them an option. Depending on what it is, I make alternatives like they can present to me with a trusted friend and not worry about the whole class group is one of the main ones that I tell them to do. A good teacher will listen To any concerns that you have but a good teacher will try to help you get over this obstacle.

When I’m teaching, I will have days when I have these self doubt moments. Although with more practice it has definitely vanished to be more “do this, do that, get it done.” I think what helps me is that i put on a costume and a persona. I mask a lot in this job…and I wear my “teaching costume” and when I take it off I can be me in my fulL self. I know it’s difficult. I really do know. Speak to your teacher to see if there‘s ways that they can support you. Even having it pre-recorded (I’ve had this done before also for a student) helps.

As for asking and answering questions. Again, practice. Took me a long time at university to even feel comfortable with participating in seminars. What helped me was that I’d write them down in preparation. I’d continue writing further questions if someone said something or had asked the question that I had. I think that we can be too hard on ourselves and expect far too much out of ourselves and that leads to burnouts. Totally get it. I do this a lot too. Try writing down your questions. If you have to do presentations with questions, I’d ask if there‘s a possibility that you could do that as a discussion. Someone has a question, then open the the floor for other people to add their thoughts too. Teachers love that type of thing. I had one kid who did a presentation on Kublai Khan, and his group had an open ended “ask questions here” slide, and the amount of them that came up and this kid who also had ASD just led it as a debate. =D.

Also, you can do it!
 

Angular Chap

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
A trick I used in high school for giving presentations, if you are using Powerpoint or other presentation software. If not, sorry, this trick will be useless to you!

Make your slides as stylish and creative as possible. Use animations, add animated gifs to the slide backgrounds and pictures. Use fancy slide transitions and sounds. Add a bit of humour, maybe a meme or two. Experiment with and learn the software to see how creative you can be. The idea is to help divert people's attention away from you and onto your fancy presentation.

This might sound like a dirty trick, closer to social engineering, but it took the pressure off me. No one remembered the nervous person giving the presentation, all they remembered were the jokes, memes, animations and cool slides, and everyone had a laugh, including the teacher.
 

Gerontius

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Add a dash of humor & speak what works.
I was asked once by some people to do a talk on the history of courtship. People assume that I am intensely culturally conservative (because I dress like it's still the 1890s, probably) and they figured, "Oh cool, this guy hates modern stuff! Let's make sure we get him to tell people about the evils of dating!" This was a very culturally conservative bunch of Catholic folks & I was interning with them at the time. I am also a Catholic, and that makes it funnier-- Not saying these folks were all bad, but they had some funny idea left over from "culture war" stuff.

So they started by assuming that Dating (insert thunder backstage) was this horrible modern innovation of the automobile era, and that I, who stuck out like a sore thumb because I dressed like an Edwardian-era bohemian, was automatically going to be opposed to that. I accepted the invitation to speak, went to my desk, cranked up my little portable phonograph and put on some Lionel Monckton, and began to flog the English language into order on the old sit-up-and-beg typewriter. They were convinced that they were fixing to get a scathing indictment about the perils of their modern, immodest ways--

Then I went to give the speech, at which I discarded the idea of "Emotional Chastity" they were trying to push, calling it a pale replacement for the good old cardinal virtues such as Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. I went back to medieval philosophy and revealed that luminaries like St. Thomas Aquinas had praised the various passions as being neutral, so whether they were good or bad depended on how they were used!-- Then I went back to the beginning of prehistory, compared human courtship customs in an almost anthropological sense, explained the modern "courtship" stuff as revisionist history, and concluded by telling the listening audience to go and enjoy themselves and have fun.

I was not asked to speak about sex after that.

However, it WAS a hit with the audience.


You can do this! You will be fine as long as you are ready to be yourself, break some expectations, speak freely even if you don't think they want you to, and to just roll on with it. I don't know what you are going to speak about but you are probably either an authority on the subject, or will be studying enough on it to make yourself an authority on the subject. Good luck with that, and I'm quite certain that you will be fine.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Hi! I just started a new semester at school and feel pretty burnt out after a week. A lot of the classes I have this semester require speaking in front of the class to present projects or have discussions. That is something I've always really struggled with and I am noticing dreading going back for that reason. For me, my mind often goes blank when speaking in groups so I don't really feel capable of thinking and answering questions on the spot. I have bad experiences from the past and low self-esteem, which makes it even harder.

I think struggling with speaking in groups or in front of people is shared by a lot of you and I'm wondering how it presents for you, if some of you want to share. And if some of you have managed to get accomodations from teachers when it comes to that.
@Sab. I don't think we've actually interacted on here even though you're a "well known member" on the forums. At any rate, this is a good post, as you suggested, it's likely that this is a common source of anxiety.

So, for frame of reference, I've been working with the public in a hospital setting, but am also an instructor in-house for new respiratory therapists, nurses, and physicians. I am also an instructor at a local university. That said:

1. Anyone can have anxieties regarding standing up in front of a group and speaking. That's not an "autism thing" per se.
2. Personally, if there is going to be any anxieties, it's usually in situations where I have some knowledge, but not expert enough to answer difficult questions. The worse situations are those in which someone will follow up with a question and I am not able to answer it in a satisfactory manner, and then that's when audience members begin to question ALL of what you said. Your reputation is undermined. So, knowing your topic is critical.
3. As an autistic, I can lecture for hours. That's not the issue if it is a topic I know well. If you can monologue on a topic, then public speaking is not difficult at all. Where things can go off the rails is during the question and answer period where the audience is coming up with questions you weren't prepared for.
4. Public speaking, teaching, etc is easy, if you can "play a role". It's acting. You put yourself in the role of the instructor, head up, eye contact, move around, hand gestures, and so on. It's a balance of being just disconnected with the audience that you don't care what they think, but being connected enough to keep them engaged in the topic. When you're done, then back to your old self again.
5. When you are speaking on your topic, make connections that most people can imagine or relate to. For example, if I am talking about the time it takes for a mechanical ventilator to generate pressure within the alveoli of the lung, I might reference it with "inspiratory time" or "time constants". But the audience might be confused, so I will also come up with a reference they might be familiar with. "If I dropped a pebble into a pond and created a wave in the water, it takes a certain amount of time for the pressure wave to go from point A to point B. Gases and fluids behave in similar ways." Well now, they can imagine something that they have likely observed and can make that connection. I find it helpful to include common references that might help your audience understand.
6. Keep it simple. If you can't explain a rather complex topic in a way that a typical 12 year old could understand, then you might need to learn about your topic more. You don't want to talk down to your audience, but on the other hand, you don't want to bog them down with intricate details and advanced-level language if you are first introducing the topic to them. Start basic. As with any topic, you have to build from the ground up with a solid foundation. If you are just doing a single, introduction to the topic, keep it simple.
7. When you keep it simple, someone in the audience will have more advanced questions. Just because you are keeping it simple in your presentation, does not mean you don't need to know your topic well. It's usually these situations where you can really impress them with your knowledge, or, you don't, and "you go down in flames".
 

Mr. Stevens

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Hi! I just started a new semester at school and feel pretty burnt out after a week. A lot of the classes I have this semester require speaking in front of the class to present projects or have discussions. That is something I've always really struggled with and I am noticing dreading going back for that reason. For me, my mind often goes blank when speaking in groups so I don't really feel capable of thinking and answering questions on the spot. I have bad experiences from the past and low self-esteem, which makes it even harder.

I think struggling with speaking in groups or in front of people is shared by a lot of you and I'm wondering how it presents for you, if some of you want to share. And if some of you have managed to get accomodations from teachers when it comes to that.

The more I know the people, the easier it is. I can be a very good public speaker, with the right group. Unfortunately, most groups you speak to are not people you're very familiar with.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
I don't have any new ideas to add, but I also do a ton of preparation so that I know the material in my soul and then take on a persona, a character, when I get "on stage." I, too, zone out while up there because all of my adrenaline is surging into maintaining the character (masking), but I know the material like muscle memory. Meaningful notes that can trigger my memory are much more helpful than a script.

I find public speaking easier than speaking with a group at a social gathering or even in my family. With all of my communication difficulties, a presentation is almost like an opportunity to speak uninterrupted with few expectations for reciprocating the words and feelings of another human being. As @Stuttermabolur noted, answering questions is a bit different, but as far as presenting, it is just a show, not a real interaction. You definitely don't need to memorize a script, but you can rehearse and practice saying ideas out loud in private.

Keep in mind that, especially at university, it is likely that half your audience will be zoning out with their mind consumed by their own lives and anxieties. I don't mean that your presentation isn't captivating, just that is what people tend to do in my experience.
 

AutistAcolyte

Active Member
as someone who speaks in front of groups occassionally for work, i recommend timing yourself while practicing. if you have an idea of how long you need to speak, then you can get an idea of where you can feel yourself start to lose focus and then go back and smooth out that part.

are you allowed to read from anything? if you can, i'd recommend doing that since its the easiest way to ensure that what you say is what you want to say. the only trouble with reading from a paper or even just having cue cards to keep you on track is that many people will not look up to the audience. if you are reading from something make sure to look up occassionally and project your voice to whoever youre reading to and not into the thing youre reading from!

good luck!
 

DaisyRose

Active Member
I always have a hard time speaking when it comes to presentations. I can never come up with the right words to what I'm going to say. I have to agree practicing is the best option to go if you are looking for a way to improve in that area. I really struggle with public speaking and presentations, and I tend to run away from them in general. I do not have a problem with speaking to others in groups though. Its only when I do it by myself that I start to feel afraid.

I do not like public speaking because I hate to have the attention to only be on me. This makes me feel very uncomfortable and nervous. I can never think straight when this happens. I enter in a panic mode and tend to freak out. It doesn't help that I've had horrible past experiences with public speaking as well.

I understand what you are saying and how this situation makes you feel. I want you to know you are not alone and that there are a lot more people who experience this. I had to have accommodations when I was in college as well. It helped me focus more on my tests and exams.
 

Stuttermabolur

A psychologist said so
V.I.P Member
The more I know the people, the easier it is. I can be a very good public speaker, with the right group. Unfortunately, most groups you speak to are not people you're very familiar with.
Interestingly enough, for me it's the opposite.

I find it easiest by far to talk with complete strangers as I know the stakes are the lowest. If I screw up, I'll ultimately most likely never see them again, and they also have no preconceptions of my abilities. When speaking to a group of people I know well however, I feel under a lot more pressure as they have expectations of my that strangers do not, and how well I do will affect my personal and/or professional reputation. This is also why I deliberately try to keep people's expectations of me low. I would much rather surpass them than be a disappointment. Unfortunately, at a certain position it's impossible to hide your achievements.

This also extends to social settings like @Rodafina. I would say I'm somewhat extroverted, and when in a group setting when no-one knows each other I tend to be seen as a social butterfly. I chat people up, introduce myself and genuinely love getting to know new people. However, if I'm going somewhere with a group of people I'm nominally a member of, I feel way more anxious, I tend to be inadvertently excluded or exclude myself, never know what to do or say and just sort of drift in the background. In larger family dinners I also tend to stay completely silent. Like a lot of other forum members have described, I also seem to be shadow excluded when friendship groups form (I seriously don't know how they do it, but it happens again and again).
 
I really enjoy speaking in front of a group; I tend to "ham it up" a bit. I rarely use notes myself. The key, for me, is to know what I'm talking about. My one truly bad experience was way back in 8th grade when I was miserably unprepared for a presentation. I can still here this one girl in my class, and her question: "Just what was it that your presentation was supposed to be about???" Brutal!

Try to present without referring to your notes, but have them as an insurance policy/security blanket. Back to school days again: one of my very best friends got up to talk, and absolutely froze. I still remember sitting there trying to give her the words via ESP! Sometimes just seeing the bullet points will get you going.

Questions do cause me some anxiety, but if I know my topic I can manage fairly well. What I absolutely can't do, of course, is to mingle after I step away from the podium.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
In larger family dinners I also tend to stay completely silent. Like a lot of other forum members have described, I also seem to be shadow excluded when friendship groups form (I seriously don't know how they do it, but it happens again and again).

This is me as well. I'm also silent at family gatherings, so my family thinks I'm "quiet" and introverted, and boring, which isn't true at all.

Interestingly, I'm more of a "social butterfly" in groups where I either know people already, or that I feel are low-risk (like a group of autistic people, or a group of people with a shared interest.) In those situations I'm almost obnoxiously extroverted and unintentionally end up being the "ring leader" or the "life of the party" sometimes. Which I find kind of embarrassing to be honest, because then I feel like I'm being annoying or too dominant or getting out of control. I can be very "intense" and too chatty when I'm comfortable with someone. Sometimes I worry that I come across this way on here too, due to how frequently I post and how detailed my posts are.

In social situations where I don't know anyone at all, and don't have a safety net, I'm basically nonverbal. I tend to just shut down, and observe but don't participate.

But like you, I am also "shadow excluded" when people form friend groups. I think I have mentioned this on here before, but a lot of my irl friends have told me individually that I'm their "best friend." But it doesn't seem like it when I'm the one that's kind of cast out from the friend group and everyone else is instantly hitting it off with the new people, and I'm the one that's like "Huh, I guess I don't have a best friend now."
Some of my friends seem to get tired of me or find me obsolete after a while once they've joined or formed a clique. And then I find myself trying desperately to keep engaging with those friends at the same rate they're engaging with the new people, but I somehow never end up fitting in. This is something I've struggled with since college.

Maintaining close friendships has always been difficult for me. I always end up with a huge circle of acquaintances and surface-level friends, but very few close friends or "best" friends.
Irl, I have had the same best friend since I was 18 years old.
I have several different groups of friends irl, but something that most of them have in common is that I seem to be used for entertainment more than as an actual important person in their lives. They all want to hang out with me, and *specifically* me, when they want to do something fun and exciting, but when they want to do something more personal, I'm pretty much the LAST person they reach out to.
Although, with that said, a huge number of my friends use me as a "therapist" or an "advice genie." They just don't want to do it in person, I guess.
I wonder if a lot of this has to do with the fact that a lot of them are very stereotypically feminine straight women, and I didn't realize (or accept) that I was a lesbian until very recently, and I clearly don't have the most outwardly feminine gender expression... so maybe they feel like I'm coming on to them and they don't want to get too personal? Just a guess. I actually have no idea. That would be pretty unfortunate and kind of homophobic if that were truly the case. I have zero romantic interest in any of my current friends anyway. None of our personalities are compatible in a more intimate relationship even if they were interested in women.

But to stay on topic here, I find public speaking pretty terrifying. Being a professional dog trainer, I do teach classes and private lessons, and I always feel totally incompetent as a public speaker because I feel like I don't explain things properly verbally. I am a visual learner, so I am a visual teacher. I do talk my clients through the lessons, but I actively demonstrate what I'm teaching the entire time, and it actually seems to work really well for most of them. I also try not to be too brusque or abrasive when they're doing something incorrectly and I try to repeat the demonstration kindly until they "get" it (even though I am legitimately frustrated lol because some of them don't listen at all).
But it seems to be working well for my clients since they keep coming back, and recommending me to others which expands my client base :)
 

Owliet

The Hidden One.
V.I.P Member
I am a visual learner, so I am a visual teacher. I do talk my clients through the lessons, but I actively demonstrate what I'm teaching the entire time, and it actually seems to work really well for most of them.
I think that this is also very important for people to know. We learn in different ways. Some people prefer to listen, some prefer to read and write, some people learn by seeing, and some prefer by doing. It also overlaps a little. I think when it comes to doing presentations, to add to what I’ve said already, you can go in and be prepared. If you make a PowerPoint presentation, you use that as your guide. I do it when I’m teaching to prevent me going off tangents. =D But It is also useful for those in the class that learn to see and listen and read what’s on the board. So @Sab , I also really recommend that you have a visual tool to help you with the presentation that you need to do.=) If you panic during the process and forget to mention something, the text on the presentation is usually there to see.=)
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Hello, I have done a lot of presentations. Some at school-university practices, some as a teacher, some at work training enviroment, some at work by surprise to solve doubs of the owners of the company. I will try to share some tips.

First thing to know is that almost everybody finds difficult to talk and do presentations in public. If you attend someone presentation, please be kind to them.

Second thing to know is that the skills to talk in public can be learned, and while some people (extroverts) may seem to be naturally better, most good talkers have get there by practice and training. To that purpose, there are courses to that, books, and even YouTube channels. So anyone wanting to improve can do it.

Third thing to know is that while most people would like to talk in public better, they dont want to pay the price (practice and learn). What they actually want is never to talk in public, to avoid the problem. Thats why they never learn.

Fourth thing to know is that talking in public is 99% of the times NOT about the talker. Lets say I talk to 19 people for 30 minutes, thats 10 human hours. 30 minutes of one human talking hours and 9.5 hours of 19 human listening. The listeners weigh way more than I do. ¿What do they need to make this time worth it? Most people just care about how they look, what will others think of them. Its by serving your audience needs that you will do a good presentation.

In school and work training ordered by bosses the public usually dont care of the topic, so most questions will be done so those people give a good image themselves (to show the teacher/boss that they are paying attention and gain point or to prove they know more than you and sustract points of you). How to serve them? Firstly acknoledge the importance of their question, If they know more let them add to your presentation or even to correct you, to give and alternative point of view. If you dont know the answer you can tell them so and add that you will search that info and tell them the answer later. If it is of mayor interest you can send it to the other people later too. So by focusing on their needs you automatically stop focusing on yourself.

In sensitive topics you may want to conduct/moderate rather than being the only talker. Your public may find valuable to talk and listen to others experiences.

On emergencies, bosses usually want fast and to the point answers and time estimations, they rarely expect you to know it all in a detailed way.

So know your public, if you can talk to them before to better know their needs and prepare the info and your times to satisfy those needs. Serve them.

Now, how to practice your skills.

You should practice with toys first. Put your toys or pictures of people arround, set your cellphone to video record yourself and start. Then look the video, your posture, hands, listen your tone and ask yourself how you could improve and better serve your public. Insulting yourself is of no use to yourself nor to your public, so please dont do that.

Next step, introduce random questions. Writte random words on paper (like spoon, sun, kraken, green effect...) and suffle them. In the middle of your presentation do roleplay that a toy ask you about that word. And answer the question. As an example: I am talking to my toys about China comerce when Fox ask me ¿Could you explain how Chinesses krakens get to the moon on their traditional dance dresses? So I have to invent an answer, and control my body accordingly. Again, look to the recorded video and improve.

IMG_20230122_074222.jpg


The next step is with public (family and friends). Again record yourself because they will lie to tell you that you did very well. First do it without random questions, then pass them strange words so they will invent and ask all kind of random stuff.

Next step is to help actual talkers, by being with them and help them while they talk in public. They are in charge and you just talk ocassionally. Ask someone in the public to record yourself is you can.

There are also games of telling tales that you can practice with family and friends. Get some of those to play at home.

IMG_20230122_103856.jpg


If you have some question, feel free to ask or pm me.

A side benefit of talking properly in public is that people will get a better impression of you, so its a good thing to practice. Hours invested will pay off.
 
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Dadamen

Well-Known Member
Could I know what are you studying?
I also have that problem, but usually succeed, sometimes even teachers and other students tell me my presentation was great.
The most important thing to me is having a good powerpoint presentation, so that I don't get blocked, when I forget what to say, just move to the next line/slide. The other tip is that you will present much easier if you know the subject well. Also, place plenty of pictures, they will make the presentation more attractive and it might be easier to you to talk if you describe a picture.
 

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