PWR II for me was always about the speaking. During one presentation early in the quarter, my leg decided to secede from the union and started vibrating uncontrollably.
I think my fear of public speaking is really a fear of public standing. If I'm just making a comment during class, my nerves rarely go fight-or-flight on me; conversely, I suspect standing in front of an audience for ten minutes without speaking would be far worse than a normal presentation could ever be. The way I see it, the first goal of the speaker is to distract everyone in the room (starting with him/herself) from the sheer repugnance of this one person standing, twelve people staring format. For me, accomplishing this goal means accomplishing my others, since being distracting requires being interesting, being interesting requires being original... etc. It also requires desensitization through exposure, i.e. practice.
The one sneaky piece of advice I have for other presenters is to think about that minute of prep before the presentation where it often really is "public standing" as the audience watches the presenter setup their powerpoint and wait for everyone to shush. This time can be especially stressful because it is unrehearsed and sometimes unanticipated. I have found saying a few words to the audience during this prep time can do a lot: calm my nerves, give me a head start on distracting the audience, prevent abrupt technician-to-orator transitions, avoid first sentence scratchy voice syndrome... etc. Obviously won't work for everyone, but it works for me.
Course: Other Selves: The Art and Science of Friendship
Instructor: Sarah Pittock
Peter came to Stanford with the class of 2015 and remains unsure of what he wants to study. He is currently living and working in Seattle, taking a year off.