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Local hermit needs your help.

By localhermit 22 April 2010 38

Good day fellow Canberrans!

The usual, long.. long time reader and first time poster. I’m a bit up the creek and wasn’t too sure about where to check first so thought I’d give this a go first before making a fool out of myself at the pharmacy for asking for something that I can’t get without a prescription. I have this speech coming up in a months time (For which I have been preparing for the past one month) and I’m not much of a public speaker, I usually start sweating within the first few seconds whenever I get up there and start babbling soon as the sweat kicks in.

I’ve never been on any kind of medication, no drugs, not a smoker, hardly any alcohol (Yes, and I’m 24) so you can say I’m clean as a whistle. What I’m looking for is something that can help me relax and get me through my speech smoothly without sweating or losing my breath. If anybody has any recommendations which I can get over the counter here in Canberra and is preferrably herbal (Not sure if that’s the right term though), that would be greatly appreciated.

Also on a side note, please try and refrain from the wise-assed comments as you know, we’ve heard em all.

Thanks in advance!

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38 Responses to
Local hermit needs your help.
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BrassRazoo 5:36 pm 30 Apr 10

An oblique trick from a stutterer which may come in handy, depending on the circumstances – change your speaking voice slightly – make it louder/ more forceful or even a little croaky perhaps – and just the effort of maintaining that delivery may ease your anxiety and the likelihood of cascading symptoms. Good luck – who knows, you may acquire the confidence to speak publicly more often!

speak2us 3:11 pm 23 Apr 10

Hi Local Hermit! Happy to be your speaking coach for your important speech event. I help speakers to find the style they are comfortable with – can help with the structure of the speech. Can help with breathing and voice which are the foundations of your ability to speak in public.
Why not give me a call to discuss?

02 6249 8757

Brindabella 9:58 am 23 Apr 10

Public speaking can be tough.

Here’s some alliteration for you.

Prior preparation prevents poor performance

Actually, the initial introduction is usually the toughest. Once you’re into the talk, you’ll find you’ll settle down a bit and smooth out. I find that if you can have something to help you ease into the start it might help.

– If you have a whiteboard / blackboard / picture, or other on-stage prop- refer to it in the introduction. The audience will take their focus off you and concentrate on your stage prop. This will give you time to settle. If you use this, spend a bit of time on it until you feel you’re ready to move on. Refer back to it during the talk. When the audience’s gaze moves, it may give you time to collect your thoughts and breath.

– Start your speech with a reading / quote. Reading from a quote will help you get used to speaking out-loud, while the words are right in front of you, verbatim. Much less pressure to start with.

– Don’t have a heavy meal before your speech. Your stomach will churn and you’ll feel sick.

– Throw a question / challenge out to the audience. Get them involved. Be informal.

– A word-for-word read speech is dull and lifeless. You’ll be so intent on reading that you’ll suck every ounce of charisma out of it and you’ll know it. Work toward having a basic outline and key points in mind and speak!

– Go easy on the “quick fix” speaking techniques, mnemonics and gadgets. These will only cause your mind to race as you try to remember them all. Stuff like Green dot, red dot, breath in, deep breath, etc etc. might be helpful, but really, just stick to the basics and try not to confuse yourself with a whole bunch of props.

– Say no to drugs!

Public speaking is a great skill to have and if you work at it, you’ll find it a great asset, and may even come to enjoy it!

All the best with it, I hope some of these points may prove helpful.

NoAddedMSG 7:38 am 23 Apr 10

No no no to the hyperventilating, that will just make things worse. Hyperventilating kicks off the body’s fight or flight response and hello! adrenalin. Not what you want when giving a talk. Be careful with the deep breathing for the same reason (it is all about the ratio of carbon dioxide:oxygen in the blood). Better to keep the focus on slow breathing.

localhermit 7:56 pm 22 Apr 10

Thanks for the great tips folks! I’m going to take a bit of every advice and see which one gives me the best outcome. Since I still have plenty of time to practice, I’ll give everything a go, and if I still can’t control myself, I might give one of them relaxants (Which I am a bit hesitant to using now) beforehand.

Thanks again everybody, much much appreciated =)

deezagood 7:30 pm 22 Apr 10

Atually I-filed, a doctor buddy of mine told me that a some doctors also use use beta-blovkers for their own nerves before public speaking … so maybe this might be worth investigating.

Thumper 7:03 pm 22 Apr 10

Professional musicians used to use beta blockers for nerves.

I have never heard of that before. I generally drink heaps, both before, while playing, and after 🙂

laughtong 6:56 pm 22 Apr 10

I have used Bach’s Rescue Remedy (the herbal stuff) and deep breathing to good effect. Rescue Remedy works for me, but test it out first. The best music solo performance I have ever given came after a small dose of Rescue Remedy and a session of relaxation techniques/deep breathing. It was all timed perfectly that once!

If public speaking is something you will need to do more of in the future, a group like Toastmasters would be well worth investigating. Presentation skills can be learned and improving your skills and practicing in that sort of environment will build your confidence. In turn you will find the nerves much more under control.

I-filed 6:32 pm 22 Apr 10

Professional musicians used to use beta blockers for nerves. Ask your doctor about them – I”m not sure whether they are still prescribed or whether they ended up having side effects …

deezagood 5:40 pm 22 Apr 10

Okay localhermit; as a fellow sufferer, here is my advice:

If you think you might fall apart and babble, then write down your speech word for word. Print it out in a large font and place each page in a plastic binder so that you can turn the pages quickly and easily, without obvious hand-shaking and losing your papers etc… By having the speech word-for-word, in the very worse case scenario, you can always just read it if your nerves turn to hell and you lose your way. Obviously a read speech is less desirable than a more spontaneous, natural speech, but I think preparing for the worse case scenario is a good idea – it is reassuring for you. Once you have your word-for-word speech, read it over and over, out loud, to your friends, again and again, until you have pretty much memorised the content. Placing the first few lines of each paragraph in bold can help, as these act as triggers for the remaining paragraph. Practice, practice, practice until you really know the speech off by heart (maybe not word for word, but you have the key points). The night before the speech, if you think you won’t sleep at all, take half a restavit (available without prescription from the chemist) just to help you to get some sleep in the face of your anxiety (try using this beforehand though so that you don’t have an unfortunate reaction).

The morning of the speech, if you feel okay (due to your excellent preparation), then don’t take anything. However, if you are literally falling apart and are a complete, dysfunctional mess, then a decent nip of vodka in your coffee can help to take the edge off (but only if you are a complete wreck and incapable of doing the speech). I think this is a much safer option than anxiety drugs that might be unpredictable. I don’t think herbal stuff really works – have tried it to no real effect. People will say this is terrible advice, and will be very judgemental about me giving it, but a friend gave me the vodka tip once when I was a complete wreck, and it certainly helped to calm me down once before I had to do a very important speech. Once you have a successful speech experience, then maybe the next time you won’t feel so worried and you may relax a lot more in future.

I also like Woody’s advice about making a joke about how nervous you are; confessing this at the start (I really like Woody’s joke about the chemist … I might have to pinch a version of that for the future!) will win your audience over and ensure that they are on your side. The funny thing is that the nervous speakers actually seem to get and keep my attention far better than the really polished speakers – there is something so endearing about somebody being out of their comfort zone but still giving it a good go. I have so much sympathy for your plight and I wish you very good luck.

Pork Hunt 5:22 pm 22 Apr 10

Go to that Doc in Dickson for some Oxycontin…

Grail 5:21 pm 22 Apr 10

I’ll chime in on the “don’t do drugs” bandwagon. The last thing you want to do before you do something you haven’t done before, is something else you haven’t done before. Allow me to illustrate with a joke:

A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done. The monsignor replied, “When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip.”

So next Sunday he took the monsignor’s advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm. Upon his return to his office after mass, he found the following note on the door:

1. Sip the Vodka, don’t gulp.
2. There are 10 commandments, not 12.
3. There are 12 disciples, not 10.
4. Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5. Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
6. We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J. C.
7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as daddy, junior and the spook.
8. David slew Goliath, he did not kick the crap out of him.
9. When David was hit by a rock and knocked off his donkey, don’t say he was stoned off his ass.
10. We do not refer to the cross as the “Big T.”
11. When Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper he said “Take this and eat it for it is my body.” He did not say “Eat me”
12. The Virgin Mary is not called “Mary with the Cherry,”
13. The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, yeah God.
14. Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St. Peter’s, not a peter pulling contest at St. Taffy’s.

liability 4:55 pm 22 Apr 10

I second the Restavit. It is often described as a “calmative”. I use it occasionally to help me sleep when I travel. I travel a lot and some of the places I stay in can be a bit noisy.

I have also used it to help me calm down a bit before I give important presentations to large groups of people, which can be a bit nerve wracking. I will sometimes take half a Restavit on those occasions, but I am 188cm tall and fairly solid, so depending upon your build you might want to “practice’ and just try a quarter of a tablet.

To be honest, I am surprised that you don’t need a script for Restavit. The chemist will occasionaly ask you why you want and I am always truthful and tell him that I travel regularly and sometimes have trouble sleeping in strange/noisy motel rooms.

As Inappropriate suggested, try a quarter of a Tablet and give it a test run.

It is not expensive, from memory it is around $9-$10 for a packet of 20 tablets.

johnny_the_knife 4:45 pm 22 Apr 10

Putting chemicals in your body is just a mask, why not address the underlying lack of confidence you have speaking in public? I reccomend talking to a speaking coach such as Sofia from Speak 2 Us (0433 717 347) or Benay Wettle (

For me personally, the last thing I want to do before giving a presentation is compromise myself mentally and physically by taking drugs.

If you don’t want to see (or pay for) a coach, start by telling yourself that you are a confident, professional presenter and you’re going to nail this speach. Then visualise yourself doing a fantastic job. Whatever you do, don’t keep telling yourself you are not mich of a public speaker. Know your material, and be confident delivering it.

Inappropriate 4:06 pm 22 Apr 10

Get some Restavit – it’s a behind the counter sleep aid (so you’ll have to ask the Pharmacist for it) – and a pill slicer and quater up a pill. Half to a quarter of a pill should take the edge off without making you sleepy.

harvyk1 2:37 pm 22 Apr 10

Give Sofia from Speak 2 Us a call on 0433 717 347
She is a speaking coach who should be able to give you hints and tips on talking without needing medication.

zedwad 2:07 pm 22 Apr 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

“I’m a terrible public speaker. I went to the chemist to ask for something to help my performance today. I’m not sure what she gave me but my morning hard-on has lasted for hours.”


I don’t know what she gave me, but now you’re all naked.

Thumper 1:49 pm 22 Apr 10

Another tip is to throw the issue back at the audience, what do you think about it? What do you think you can do? And when they answer, turn it around and question them which should entice more to join in and thus you have audience participation.

I like WMCs dots idea as well.

Woody Mann-Caruso 1:35 pm 22 Apr 10

Grab some coloured dot stickers. If you’ve got a lectern, put a green one on the top left corner and a red one on the top right. (No lectern? Stick em on your notes). Everytime you notice the green dot, think about your posture: remember to pull your shoulders back, look positive and cast your gaze over different parts of the audience. Every time you notice the red dot, pay attention to your pacing: breathe, and slow things down a bit, smile, move your hands. Within a minute or so your brain is monitoring the dots and modifying your behaviour without a lot of conscious effort.

As zedwad mentioned, a joke about your nervousness can be a good way to open, but it depends on the audience and the subject. “I’m a terrible public speaker. I went to the chemist to ask for something to help my performance today. I’m not sure what she gave me but my morning hard-on has lasted for hours.”

zedwad 1:03 pm 22 Apr 10

Another tip – hyperventilate just before you start talking. Can’t remember the physiological reason why it works, but it does work.
Try it now. Imagine yourself about to speak in 31 seconds. Short shallow breaths for 30 seconds as you are walking up, and starting to panic. One deep breath, and start speaking.

sounds stupid, but it’s worth a shot.

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