Dear Viv: How can I get better at public speaking? With Zoë Beaty

In this special episode, The Pool's Zoë Beaty asks Viv how she can stop holding herself back when it comes to owning the room

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv, 

How do I stop holding myself back, when it comes to public speaking?

As I’m sure you’re aware, Viv, The Pool has recently released a collection of essays called Life Honestly... and for this, I am chairing a panel of contributors in front of an audience of Pool readers.

I have spoken publicly in the past but, to be honest, I spend so much of the time in my own head worrying about what I’m going to say next, or why anyone would want to hear what I’ve got to say anyway, that I can lose my train of thought mid-sentence and have even apologised to the audience for this in the past.

I know that a lot of this is my own social anxiety but, when I was young, I was told that if you fail to prepare you’re preparing to fail and I think I’ve taken this advice a little too far, as I fill my head with so much information that simple things become quite convoluted and I get lost. Is there a way of striking a balance between being prepared, while also allowing space to just be myself?

This upcoming panel is a bit different as I will have people to interact with, but how do I ensure that I allow them all time to speak, I don’t speak over them... and I remember to listen to them when I’ve so much going on in my head?

I had really bad social anxiety when I was younger, and I’m pretty sure that the aftermath of that has contributed to my need to overcompensate, that and the fact that social media now means that there may end up being a video of you on stage posted on social or even worse, someone misquoting you on Twitter.

So, if you’ve any advice specifically on preparing but not overpreparing so that I can be more present and even perhaps enjoy this upcoming event that I’m hosting that would be amazing.

Got a question for Viv? Email her at The Dear Viv podcast airs weekly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

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