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Author Topic: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?  (Read 13725 times)

birddog

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2005, 12:47:45 PM »
Also, oddly, there are plenty of litigation jobs in which you don't really speak that much in public.  Often litigation is about writing, filing, and negotiating.  I know some partners that have never argued a case (though they have had to go to court for other things like settlement agreements).  OTOH there are types of litigation that involve tons of courtroom time - just depends.

zilla

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2005, 11:08:13 PM »
i'm going into litigation (after I get past that pesky bar this summer). I think the law school process will do a lot to help you. you have no choice BUT to talk when it comes to the socratic method.  The key is to know you will at some point say something entirely wrong or ridiculous in class. just accept the fact and be ready to laugh it off. Nobody will think any less of you, because it will happen to them.
One practice point though: if you have a study group, really work on talking to them. You'll find that discussing points of law in front of just a few people is a good way to train yourself for litigation. Make an effort to respond to the questions of your group in a thoughtful manner. Keep in mind, most of the time you spend in court is with the parties and the judge, and a jury in the rare case. So start with the small groups and think of the room as chambers. 
Also, get in a trial advocacy class or some sort of trial tactics class: you'll do a lot of talking and the practice helps. even goofy things like karaoke can help you: if you can make a fool of yourself on that level, talking about law suddenly carries a much lesser chance of embarrassment.
Anyway...i clerked in the litigation group of a big firm, and most of the work you do involves hours on lexis and quality time writing!

danlauer

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2005, 04:09:41 AM »
For people who do not like public speaking (like myself) yet still want to get into litigation and are nervous about the whole speaking in front of crowds (like myself)- do you recommend a course like ToastMaster's or something along those lines?

Thanks all!

I, like you, was extremely nervous when I started law school. In undergrad, I put off my speech class until the last possible minute. I hated it.

When I started law school, I realized that I would have to get over it because I really wanted to be a litigator. At my original law school, they made you stand to recite the cases and you regularly got grilled by the professor about the cases so that kind of stressed me out in the beginning. But honestly, that is one of the best things that will help you. You will get used to it. I kind of looked at it like a challenge: it was a challenge for me in terms of making sure I knew the material, but it also helped lessen the anxiety. The more you do it, better you will feel about it.

I would advise to try to get involved in anything that will force you to go out there and confront it. I think a ToastMasters class is an excellent idea. Even if you don't do that, you will have plenty of opportunities in law school to confront your anxiety. Many schools have an oral argument requirement in one of the research and writing classes. You can also do Moot Court or things like that. After awhile, you will feel better about it.

I finally started getting over it when I had to do some mock oral arguments in front of real judges. I still have plenty of areas to work on, but I don't get nearly as stressed as I used to. Now, it seems like I turned a corner and something else took over. I absolutely love the feeling of it because I feel much more confident and it is a chance to really use the skills you have gained from researching the law and making legal arguments.

Treat it like a personal challenge and don't let it get in the way of what you really want.

If professors begin to grill you respond to them using some nasty and/or sarcastic word -- they will shut the fuk up!
To what extent can truth endure incorporation? That is the question; that is the experiment.

Mary

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2005, 11:02:34 PM »
That's a great way to get off on the right foot!

For people who do not like public speaking (like myself) yet still want to get into litigation and are nervous about the whole speaking in front of crowds (like myself)- do you recommend a course like ToastMaster's or something along those lines?

Thanks all!

I, like you, was extremely nervous when I started law school. In undergrad, I put off my speech class until the last possible minute. I hated it.

When I started law school, I realized that I would have to get over it because I really wanted to be a litigator. At my original law school, they made you stand to recite the cases and you regularly got grilled by the professor about the cases so that kind of stressed me out in the beginning. But honestly, that is one of the best things that will help you. You will get used to it. I kind of looked at it like a challenge: it was a challenge for me in terms of making sure I knew the material, but it also helped lessen the anxiety. The more you do it, better you will feel about it.

I would advise to try to get involved in anything that will force you to go out there and confront it. I think a ToastMasters class is an excellent idea. Even if you don't do that, you will have plenty of opportunities in law school to confront your anxiety. Many schools have an oral argument requirement in one of the research and writing classes. You can also do Moot Court or things like that. After awhile, you will feel better about it.

I finally started getting over it when I had to do some mock oral arguments in front of real judges. I still have plenty of areas to work on, but I don't get nearly as stressed as I used to. Now, it seems like I turned a corner and something else took over. I absolutely love the feeling of it because I feel much more confident and it is a chance to really use the skills you have gained from researching the law and making legal arguments.

Treat it like a personal challenge and don't let it get in the way of what you really want.

If professors begin to grill you respond to them using some nasty and/or sarcastic word -- they will shut the fuk up!

hmusd

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2005, 02:36:21 PM »
I am glad you started this thread, Mary.

I also hate speaking in front of crowds, and it only gets worse the older I get.  I was okay with it in undergrad, but now that I have been out of college for 4 yrs., it terrifies me. 

I was surprised when I first learned we would have to get up and argue in front of judges the first year of law school, and it scares me half to death, but I think it will be good in the end because I will have conquered a fear.  I think it is a vast MINORITY of people that are naturally comfortable with public speaking, so we are mostly all in the same boat.  The thing I try to remember is that I always think I sound dumber than everyone else who is listening does. 
Attending: University of San Diego.
Applied (and accepted): USC, Denver U., U of Oregon, Lewis & Clark, Loyola.

rapunzel

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2005, 10:10:51 PM »
                                                                                     I have many years of training as an actor from way back before law school was even in the picture.  All of the advice so far has been good, but I have some thoughts from a different angle.

What happens when you speak in public is that adrenaline starts pumping and the brain goes on over-drive.  Instead of being able to concentrate on the message you would like to convey or how to be persuasive and connect with your audience you become fixated with how you think people are responding (or not responding) or with the fact that your hands are trembling or you are sweating.  These phsysiological responses become a source for anxiety on top of everthing else and soon you are fixated on your out of control body or unnerved by the fact that you are begining to stammer.

The trick is getting control of this physiological reponse.  The first step involves breathing.  Your body's response can be regulated by the way that you breath.  You can interupt a cycle of stage fright by taking control and getting your breathing back on track.  You can prevent a great deal of it by practicing deep centered diaphramatic breathing until it is natural for you. 

Put your hand on your stomach.  Breah in a deep breath.  When you do so make sure your belly pushes out against your hand.  You can imagine that your lungs are a balloon that you are filling with air.  Breath in slowly and deeply as you count to ten.  Then hold, and release.  Again, slowly as if you are letting the air out of the balloon.  When you breath this way you are using your diaphram correctly.  More oxygens gets to your brain, and your body slows down to respect the rythym you create.  If you are breathing this way before a speech, you will stay more calm.  If you get called in class and you start to get flustered you can regain control by starting to breath. 

Actors train in breathing and meditation in order to have acute control.  From there they learn to use the air in their lungs to project and modulate their voice.  This also helps with pacing for the many of us who start to speed up when we talk.  A voice pitched low and calm in pace is pleasing.  Try listening to some female newscasters or radio personalities to see what I mean.

This takes practice, but this type of training can trully change your public personality.  I used to teach a classes in "acting for the businessperson"- maybe you could find such a class at your local community college.  It's usually pretty cheap. 

Everyone gets nervous, some people just control it better than others.  Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am one of the most confident people they know.  But I still have moments of stage fright, times when inexplicably my knees are knocking.  But no one knows because I know how to get it under control.  And once you know that you don't feel afraid.     

Mary

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2005, 03:26:02 PM »
Wow, nice.

                                                                                     I have many years of training as an actor from way back before law school was even in the picture.  All of the advice so far has been good, but I have some thoughts from a different angle.

What happens when you speak in public is that adrenaline starts pumping and the brain goes on over-drive.  Instead of being able to concentrate on the message you would like to convey or how to be persuasive and connect with your audience you become fixated with how you think people are responding (or not responding) or with the fact that your hands are trembling or you are sweating.  These phsysiological responses become a source for anxiety on top of everthing else and soon you are fixated on your out of control body or unnerved by the fact that you are begining to stammer.

The trick is getting control of this physiological reponse.  The first step involves breathing.  Your body's response can be regulated by the way that you breath.  You can interupt a cycle of stage fright by taking control and getting your breathing back on track.  You can prevent a great deal of it by practicing deep centered diaphramatic breathing until it is natural for you. 

Put your hand on your stomach.  Breah in a deep breath.  When you do so make sure your belly pushes out against your hand.  You can imagine that your lungs are a balloon that you are filling with air.  Breath in slowly and deeply as you count to ten.  Then hold, and release.  Again, slowly as if you are letting the air out of the balloon.  When you breath this way you are using your diaphram correctly.  More oxygens gets to your brain, and your body slows down to respect the rythym you create.  If you are breathing this way before a speech, you will stay more calm.  If you get called in class and you start to get flustered you can regain control by starting to breath. 

Actors train in breathing and meditation in order to have acute control.  From there they learn to use the air in their lungs to project and modulate their voice.  This also helps with pacing for the many of us who start to speed up when we talk.  A voice pitched low and calm in pace is pleasing.  Try listening to some female newscasters or radio personalities to see what I mean.

This takes practice, but this type of training can trully change your public personality.  I used to teach a classes in "acting for the businessperson"- maybe you could find such a class at your local community college.  It's usually pretty cheap. 

Everyone gets nervous, some people just control it better than others.  Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am one of the most confident people they know.  But I still have moments of stage fright, times when inexplicably my knees are knocking.  But no one knows because I know how to get it under control.  And once you know that you don't feel afraid.     

Kelly

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2005, 11:12:58 AM »
Actually I started this thread.

I agree- we're not as bad as we think we sound to the next person.  I'm still nervous though. :-[

I am glad you started this thread, Mary.

I also hate speaking in front of crowds, and it only gets worse the older I get.  I was okay with it in undergrad, but now that I have been out of college for 4 yrs., it terrifies me. 

I was surprised when I first learned we would have to get up and argue in front of judges the first year of law school, and it scares me half to death, but I think it will be good in the end because I will have conquered a fear.  I think it is a vast MINORITY of people that are naturally comfortable with public speaking, so we are mostly all in the same boat.  The thing I try to remember is that I always think I sound dumber than everyone else who is listening does. 

SOCALLAW

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2005, 12:53:03 PM »
If hope this helps...

I was a strategic communication major in undergrad. The reason I chose this major was to confront one of my greatest fears -Public Speaking. I knew there were going to be many speeches, some short-5min. and others pretty long-30min. Before I chose the major, I knew I wanted to go to law school. I knew that gpa was important and convinced myself that if I didnt become a good public speaker to get the grades, I wouldnt even get into law school. Most people called me crazy, because you are supposed to pick a major you enjoy. I realized that without PS, that I probably wasnt going to do well in law school, or at least be comfortable.

As it turned out, I became a much better speaker but I never got over being nervous and sometimes a little scared. I ended up graduating at the top of my class and making the grades to get into law school. The whole point I'm trying to convey to you, is that being afraid and being nervous is ok and it may even work to your advantage. I have faith that you will become that litigator. I'm not sure if you've started or are about to start, but always remember that law school is a psychological boot camp, and only the strong will survive. You must face your fears!

Sincerely

Kelly

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Re: What do you do if you're nervous about public speaking?
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2005, 08:54:43 PM »
Thanks!
In a way, I'm looking forward to it but in another way- I'm very nervous and I have doubts.

If hope this helps...

I was a strategic communication major in undergrad. The reason I chose this major was to confront one of my greatest fears -Public Speaking. I knew there were going to be many speeches, some short-5min. and others pretty long-30min. Before I chose the major, I knew I wanted to go to law school. I knew that gpa was important and convinced myself that if I didnt become a good public speaker to get the grades, I wouldnt even get into law school. Most people called me crazy, because you are supposed to pick a major you enjoy. I realized that without PS, that I probably wasnt going to do well in law school, or at least be comfortable.

As it turned out, I became a much better speaker but I never got over being nervous and sometimes a little scared. I ended up graduating at the top of my class and making the grades to get into law school. The whole point I'm trying to convey to you, is that being afraid and being nervous is ok and it may even work to your advantage. I have faith that you will become that litigator. I'm not sure if you've started or are about to start, but always remember that law school is a psychological boot camp, and only the strong will survive. You must face your fears!

Sincerely