It’s adorably charming, but only because you’re British actor Hugh Grant
February 24, 2013 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Focus on one person in the middle of the crowd throughout your speech. Afterward, trail him home. Knock on his door. Offer an introduction like, "Hi. I’m from the speech. Earlier." He’ll reply with something along the lines of, "I know. Um…what are you doing here?" "I thought"—you’ll stammer, searching for the right words—"I just thought we could hang out, maybe, and be friends." "I have friends," he’ll probably say. "And I’m with my family now." Blurt out, too quickly, "I’m not trying to replace your family!" He’ll close the door in your face, gently, more out of pity than fear. Don’t use him as a crowd-focusing person for the next speech, because it would be weird.
Tips for Public Speaking, from Teddy Wayne in the New York Times.
posted by davidjmcgee (15 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Alter the direction of your speech, engaging them in a group-therapy session. To make them feel comfortable, get naked.

Yeah, nude psychotherapy was actually a thing. Sometimes with bonus sociopaths.
posted by meehawl at 8:10 PM on February 24, 2013

I once had to introduce Jeff Marder in front of 7,000+ people. Guy in the front row yells out, "You look fucking nervous!" I stopped my introduction, looked at him, said, "I am fucking nervous, but at least I'm not a dickhead," then finished what I had to say. Jeff complimented me and said I was great. No idea how well I actually did, but never been afraid to talk in front of people since.

Cured my fear of heights in pretty much the same way.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:24 PM on February 24, 2013 [14 favorites]

By calling the height a dickhead? Makes sense to me.
posted by Brockles at 8:37 PM on February 24, 2013 [16 favorites]

Fucking Brad. Fuck that guy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:41 PM on February 24, 2013

Speak smooth, vanillla ice cream, drop into Cygnas X-1.
Go Disney.
posted by Mblue at 9:02 PM on February 24, 2013

Love this. As someone who does a lot of public speaking I can unequivocally say that if anyone is shilling you a list of 10 things to do to improve your public speaking, and PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT is on top, then they are just linkbaiting.

Nothing can really prepare you for the first time you have to speak in front of a large group. And you can't get better at it except by doing it more. The number one skill to learn, if public speaking makes you scared, is how to lean into your fear so you can do it time and time again to get better. This, you will find, will come in handy in a number of other situations in your life.
posted by salishsea at 10:09 PM on February 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

This sounds like a great way to get arrested.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:14 PM on February 24, 2013

I'm going to deliver this to my public speaking students as a midterm surprise.
posted by mediated self at 10:40 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If all else fails put the mic too close to your mouth and breath heavy. If you stammer direct a hand wave at someone you know in the audience. If they are a true friend they will start choking.

Then you can say whatever you want.
posted by srboisvert at 10:56 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am Hugh Grant. Actually. In a manner of speaking.

Well, you know, sort of. By which I suppose I mean 'I'm not much like Hugh Grant at all really except in sort of a figurative sense of some kind'. Well, I am also a human being, so there's that. And male. Oh yes, definitely male.

But otherwise, well, you know. More like 'someone else altogether', to be honest. Probably.

posted by Segundus at 1:06 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

I cured my crippling fear of public speaking by simply deciding not to care. I just considered, really considered, that all of these stupid wankers in the audience were just stupid wankers; like me, like everybody else. They had bad breath, broken marriages, spent an obscene portion of their salary (smaller than mine, no doubt) on therapy, had nasty little warts in embarrassing places, secret shameful desires they were too pathetic to act on, and most of them were worse at public speaking than me because they were stupid wankers. Hell, I'd even spoken to some of them before the speech and they actually were stupid wankers. And I was worried about speaking in front of them en masse? What a stupid wanker!

I actually started to almost enjoy public speaking after adopting this attitude. I haven't done it for a while now, which makes me rather sad. I tell myself it's because I'm of an age where all my friends are married or divorced so I will never be asked to be best man again, and I no longer work in business so I will never have to give presentations again, and I am no longer a renowned writer/blogger so I will never give the keynote speech at a major convention again... oh wait, I think that last one might have been a dream. Fact is, I think it's mainly because people hate the way that stupid wanker Decani gives speeches. He's so smug and supercilious.
posted by Decani at 2:32 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I actually haven't been scared of public speaking ever since I got so nervous from having to give a speech in third grade that I got sick. It's talking to people one-on-one that gives me trouble, especially Brad.
posted by drezdn at 6:18 AM on February 25, 2013

In my public speaking class in college I gave a persuasive speech on why persuasive speeches were an ineffective rhetorical technique and the prof marked it down because it was self-contradictory.

After that I was too angry to care about being nervous.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 AM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

> Speak through your diaphragm. Everyone will be distracted from how bad your speech is by your bizarre employment of a cervical barrier.

If you do this correctly you can make a quite nice kazoo sound.
posted by Panjandrum at 6:48 AM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I liked this article, I dislike public speaking, and I like that it reminded me of Joe Queenan's work, which I have gone too long without reading. CHEERS ALL AROUND.

maybe even with White Russians since, as much as I love a well-employed callback joke, dairy is proof that God loves (some of) us
posted by psoas at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2013

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