Advice needed: how to lecture/speak normally?

I don’t have this problem when I’m acting, and I’m really frustrated by this.

In the past few years, I’ve started having to do more employee training, hiring interviews, ect. As part of that, I have to do a lot of talking. I’ve noticed, whenever I have to do that lot of talking to a new hire or when presenting things to new/unfamiliar employees, I get… gaspy. My throat constricts, my neck and jaw feel all tense, and my voice gets all reedy and breathy.

Notably, this doesn’t happen when I’m pontificating with my friends (I do that a lot) or yakking my head off to my husband (also a lot) or even when I’m performing or singing on stage (not so often, but more intense use of voice), or even when I’m talking to my existing co-workers and not even when I’m giving *them *the same sort of feedback/lectures that I’m giving the new people.

So, we have a new employee, and it’s happening again. What gives, and how can I make it stop? This is really starting to bug me - I sound like my voice is giving out! All I can think is that the fact that they’re new is freaking me out, but it’s specificially giving me problems when I’m presenting just basic information - not even opinions or telling them what to do!


Maybe you just need to keep a bottle or glass of water around. I don’t mean just for the physical effect of wetting your whistle. If you have created a pattern for yourself it will break that up. It gives you a moment to gather yourself and start again. It takes the focus off you for a moment, and your focus off them. Do you get around to asking your audience some questions early on? I find it helps in cases like this to get a little bit of two way communication going.

Long ago, in the dark ages, when I was a youth, I read something about the need for small talk at the start of meetings. I thought it was nonsense, get to the point of the meeting, get it over with, get back to work. Of course I was totally wrong. That early time spent in smalltalk is a way of establishing a good communication protocol. It gets people to understand who they are talking or listening to, and how to interpret their words. And it decreases anxiety levels all around.

The symptoms you described sound like you nervousness and a lack of confidence. Why would you be nervous in these types of presentations? Figure that out and it might solve your problem.

Any chance you could arrange a few casual chats with the newbies, before you have to lecture?

It might take that ‘new smell’ off of them, so talking to them might get simpler. You might need to give yourself a little pep talk first, ‘all the reasons they are not so new to you, after all’, sort of thing.

I tend to talk the same time as I think, or rather, think outloud. It usually works for me, but there are occasions when I get self-concious, and I have a difficult time keeping on topic, sounding like a normal person, and all that.

What I’ve found works for me is to stop talking. Breathe normally for several breaths, press a finger against my lips, and look down (looks like I’m pondering weighty matters). That either calms me down, or it gives me enough time to consider “what do I really want to say?”.

I have noticed when that happens to me, it is when my mouth is not far enough ahead of my thoughts. As mentioned, it’s kind of an insecurity or panic that sets in.

Review everything you will have to say in advance. Once you have to start talking or training, go slowly with plenty of sensible pauses, in order for your thoughts to have time to cohere into something that your are comfortable saying.

Edit: my favorite go-to self deprecating humor when I do happen to get myself into a tongue tied or speechless situation is to just laugh at myself and say something like ‘You know, I talk for a living…sometimes you can’t tell though’ :slight_smile: It’s been mentioned in another thread that most people are uncomfortable with speaking…they will understand.

When you lecture, try to put yourself in the same place in the head that you are when acting. They aren’t all that different.

Check out the Alexander Technique - or The Kings Speech (movie) … relaxation of muscles that tense and change of focus.