Overcome speaking anxiety and learn how to start and continue a conversation | Serena Greenslade | Skillshare

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Overcome speaking anxiety and learn how to start and continue a conversation

teacher avatar Serena Greenslade, Elocution Teacher since 1994

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction to Speaking Anxiety and how to start a conversation

    • 2. Speaking Anxiety

    • 3. Starting a conversation

    • 4. Be heard

    • 5. Be a good listener

    • 6. Speaking on the phone

    • 7. Going to new places

    • 8. Top tips for speaking

    • 9. Topics for a conversation

    • 10. Bonus Skillshare good

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About This Class

Speaking Anxiety is the number one social phobia and if you're one of the many sufferers it can make your life much more difficult than it needs to be.

Luckily, confident speaking is a skill which can be learned. Some people are just naturally quiet but are confident enough to be able to speak when they have to. Other people are very shy and think that they're going to somehow make a fool of themselves if they speak. Others think that they sound strange, they imagine they've got a speech impediment when they haven't. 

Having a conversation should always be fun. Think back to a time when you've been busy chatting to a friend and then suddenly realised you've been talking for 2 hours! 

This course will show you how to feel confident when you are speaking and will give you some ideas for questions to ask or comments to make to get a conversation going or to keep a conversation going.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Serena Greenslade

Elocution Teacher since 1994


Hello, I'm Serena.

I know how it feels to be anxious about speaking but I am now qualified to the highest level and am able to help you improve your speaking skills. If you think of a little old lady dressed in a Tweed suit talking rather 'posh' when you hear the words 'elocution teacher' think again! I live in jeans, laugh a lot and have a hint of a Dorset accent when not teaching but I am passionate about my work and am incredibly serious (with a smile)  when it comes to teaching my clients to sound confident.

When I was about ten, my school had a parents evening where the parents go along and chat to the teachers to find out how their children are getting on.  During the course of the conversation with my mum, my teacher told her that I seemed happy enough but... See full profile

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1. Introduction to Speaking Anxiety and how to start a conversation: Hi, I'm Serena. Andi. I teach people how to speak. Now speaking can be public speaking, giving speeches, presentations. It can be acting. It can be doing Shakespeare. It could be reciting poetry. It could be reading from a book to an elderly person or to a child. Storytelling. Or it could just be conversation. Now I know how difficult it can be sometimes to converse with people you're standing there in the bus queue or in a shop or in a waiting room. Onda and you feel that you should speak, but you don't know what to say on. Do you think if you do speak, it's going to sound force. It's going to sound odd or you're going to sound as they are being nosy on. Did you sit there and re watch other people? And they seem to be able to speak without worrying. They seem to know what to say. They're never stuck for words. They opened their mouth and sentences come out on D. Their sentences seem to be funny or friendly, and people react. But you can't do it. You can't do it so easily. I've been in that position, Andi, I know how it feels, and I also know how to overcome it. In this course, which isn't very long, I will talk about speaking anxiety. I would just show you the different levels. I will end it with giving you tips on how to speak when you are talking to friends, family, strangers in a casual situation and also some tips on how to speak in more formal situations when you do have to give a speech or a presentation. But a bit in the middle of the course will be the bit that will show you how to start a conversation. How to continue a conversation. What should you say? What shouldn't you say? How should you go about it? How should you listen? Because some people will. That's all they want you to do, is listen. So I will show you how to listen actively. So it looks perhaps as though you are participating Maurin the conversation than you actually are. You can get away without saying very much at all. Speaking should be fun. Communicating with people should be fun, and it is quite easy to talk about nothing about the weather, about the price of food, about where you are. Perhaps you are atter a tennis club for the first time, or you're taking your daughter to a dance lesson for the first time, and you don't quite know where you are, what you're supposed to be doing. Most people are in the same situation. It's just that some don't mind saying, and you will find that if you have the confidence to say Excuse me is the first time we've bean to a tennis tournament, What do we do? People will be so pleased to help you, and you will probably find somebody else listening who's in exactly the same situation but didn't like to ask. So this course is about talking about talking for fun, talking about things that aren't that important and where it doesn't matter if you make a mess of things, nobody will notice. So let's have fun with this 2. Speaking Anxiety: speaking. Anxiety is the number one social phobia, and if you're one of the many sufferers, then your life is a lot more difficult than it needs to be. I believe there are eight levels of anxiety, ranging from no anxiety at all being able to talk to anybody, anywhere with no fear. Two very acute anxiety where even the thought of speaking to somebody makes you anxious. I believe there are eight levels of anxiety. These are level one. No anxiety willing and able to speak to anyone, anywhere, including public speaking in front of large groups. Level two able to speak to anyone and will speak to small groups when confident about the topic. An example of this is a teacher talking in front of the class. Level three. Able to speak to people you know, plus strangers in any situation. These are strangers. You might meet on a bus train party, etcetera, where you have to speak for an unlimited amount of time. You can't easily get away. Level four can speak to people you know, plus strangers when only a few sentences are required. Examples are shop assistants, receptionists, exacta. It's fairly easy to get away and cut the conversation. Short level five. You can speak to family, friends, work colleagues and bosses and teachers or other people in authority. Level six. These people feel comfortable when speaking to family, friends and work colleagues. Level seven will only speak to family and close friends. Level eight. Acute Anxiety These people are only comfortable when they're speaking to their family members. When I was a 10 year old and at school, I was about a Level seven. I didn't want to talk to the teachers. Andi. My parents then sent me off to elocution lessons. I'm now happy at a level two or three. Most people are happy within the range level 3 to 5 and can cope quite well. However, sometimes we may find ourselves in a situation where we feel uncomfortable, perhaps a change of job, and we have to meet new people. Perhaps we're just forced into a situation where we just feel anxious. Hopefully, this course will show you how easy it is to change from one level to another 3. Starting a conversation: The first thing you have to remember is that having a conversation should be fun. Always fun. Think back to a time when you were talking to a friend chatting away and then you realize you've been there for two hours, just talking about nothing, really. It probably felt like it was about 10 minutes quarter an hour, and that's how it should be. It should be natural. You don't have to think about conversation too much on do you can talk about anything, no matter how trivial it may seem. So how do you actually start the conversation? Well, the question a comment doesn't have to be intellectually challenging If you're in shop in a cube. It's busy here today, isn't it? Well, the opposite. It's not very busy here today. In it, if your at the school gate collecting Children and you're standing with parents you don't know, and you sort of feeling a bit awkward Feel is that you should say something. Well, the weather is always a good one. It's a bit cold today, isn't it? Or is this rain ever going to stop now? They won't feel threatened by your question. It's not that important whether they agree with you or don't agree with you, they may then continue the conversation. If they don't. If they just say yes, it's cold, then just leave it. If you can't think of anything to say, you've given them the chance, they obviously don't feel that awkward about the situation. Or they may say something that leads you to answer them without even thinking about it. The secret with conversations is not toe overthink it. So you find yourself just asking, Ah, unimportant question about the conditions about how busy something is, about how long you've waited, whether it's enjoyable. And if you smile. People were warm to you. They will want to talk to you. So don't stand in a queue looking miserable and fed up. Smile. If somebody just glances your way, smile at them the smile back. They may say something they may not, but it's friendly, and that's high conversation start, and that's what a conversation should be. Friendly people in general do not have conversations about the theory of relativity. They're more likely to talk about the weather or how busy the shocks are. Whether the new school teacher is nice or not, or about the price of tomatoes or whether somebody likes your new curtains or not. So don't overthink it. Don't think that you have to talk about something that you think is very academic, very intelligent. You mustn't think that just because you haven't climbed Mount Everest or you haven't trekked around the world that you are not an interesting person to talk to. Everything we do every day can be interesting, and it could be fun. And we need to be able to laugh at ourselves, laughing other people and have fun. People are generally interested in other people on other people's lives. Always seems so much more exciting than our own. So what should you talk about? Well, you can talk about anything you can talk about knitting, sewing, sailing, going, shopping, playing football, watching athletics, making tea, baking a cake, reading a book, the weather, anything. Just be careful when you are talking that you don't criticize other people and try not to talk about yourself all the time. Don't get upset and don't take it personally. If somebody or talking to doesn't agree with you totally. You may think that knitting is brilliant and you could spend all day knitting on. Do you love knitting and you're nicked and you love knitting on your knit anything and they may say, Mm. I don't really enjoy knitting. I would much prefer to. So that doesn't mean they think you are a stupid person. It just means they don't totally agree. So what do you do? You ask them Why? Why is that? What don't you like about knitting? And then you've got another aspect to your conversation and the same goes in reverse. If somebody is talking about a brilliant film, they've just seen. And you didn't think it was quite so brilliant. Don't think that just because you don't agree with them that you have to stay quiet. Say that in your opinion, it you didn't find it quite so interesting and and again asked why, What was it about it that they thought was so good? And again, you've got a conversation going without any thought at all. It may be that having something to talk about isn't your problem over? You may think it is. It may be that you just think that you have to be able to speak in a very high level about something. You have to be very clear, very concise and very knowledgeable. Well, you don't have to be in a conversation. You still have opinions on your opinions matter, Andi. You may find that the people you're talking to perhaps just don't talk in the same way that you do. Perhaps they their way of speaking in the way of conversing, just doesn't suit your personality. It doesn't mean that when you speak to somebody else about the same thing that you wouldn't have a wonderful conversation. Perhaps if you are having a conversation and you're not getting much feed back, don't don't assume that it's you. Perhaps their even mawr show I've talking than you are. So ask them questions, trying to find out from them what they think on. Then this keeps the conversation going 4. Be heard: right. So you know what you're going to talk about? You're not worried anymore. You I need to be heard. There's as I said, no point in having brilliant ideas if nobody can hear you so very basics on and I run other courses which go into this in much more detail. But basically, open your mouth. Let the sound get out, Andi, If you think you open your mouth, just watch yourself in the mirror and see if you really do Sounds like I mouth should be really wide, so worth like child My sky was like Andi, Every time you say on, does your mouth open ends of words under on the end of a word things like end but got so uh and, uh, tongue should touch the top of your math every time. You wouldn't write the word Andi without a d. So don't say it without D You wouldn't write the word, um butter without to tease in the middle. So don't say but say butter. This will help your listeners hear what you are saying. They won't have to strain to try to understand the words. Don't go too fast. Opening your mouth will slow you down because physically it has to. If you are taking time toe open your mouth. Then it was slow you down So tongue between the teeth the make sure everything this that another brother with both every times a th a good way to practice. All of this is to read out loud, just pick up a tin of beans, a packet of biscuits, a magazine. Just read anything out loud so that your mouth and your muscles here and your tongue, they get used to moving. They get usedto opening, then people can hear you. 5. Be a good listener: In order to be good at conversation, you need to be not only good at speaking on confident are talking. But you also need to be able to listen as well. Good communication is 50% speaking and 50% listening. If you don't listen to people, you can't reply to them. You can't respond even if your response is only going to be yes or no. So if somebody was to say was very wet today, isn't it your cart even say yes or no if you don't listen. So listening is important. It could also be that some people are quite chatting and they love to have a conversation with you on. Really? All you need to do is say yes. Although in the appropriate places, just to prove that you are listening to them. So listen, you may not have to say very much, but when they say isn't it? Don't you agree? Yes. No usual face. You could even just struck your shoulders. But you need to actively show them that you are listening. And you are part of that two way communication. You need to be active when you're listening. Don't just stand there. Will sit there with your eyes, glaze over and and you're not really with it. You need to actively listen toe everything. So not your head smile. Don't also just be sitting there waiting for your chance to speak. Don't not listen. And then as soon as they pause, jump in with something that's not being good at conversation. That's thinking about you rather than them make that important, even in a supermarket queue. If somebody speaks to you, smile at them, be friendly. First of all, then just answer. Yes, no, I don't know. Even, um, you may find that you have something interesting to say to add to the conversation, but make them feel important. It's not all about you, I say. Just not in your head, smiling an agreement that is all part of communication. And they will go away thinking they had a conversation with you. Even if you said only two or three words. Deduct panic practice. Listen to people listen to what they say. And also by listening, you will learn how to make conversation. You can copy what they say when you next in acute. If somebody in the supermarket you talks to you and says, Oh, are carrots expensive? All isn't a terrible day to Dale Busy in here. Listen, remember And then the next time when you're in a hue on, somebody looks at you, you can say the same. Isn't it busy in here? So copy people that are good at it. 6. Speaking on the phone: speaking on the phone. A lot of people have a bit of a phobia about speaking on the phone on, and to be quite honest, for most of my life, I was one of them. I would do anything to avoid having to speak to somebody on the phone. I would drive miles and see them face to face rather than speak on the phone. But there are a few tips about speaking Andi. This will make your voice sound clearer and therefore make the conversation easier. Now, how many times have you tried to take down the phone number off somebody on the phone? They may have left it in a voice mail. Or they may say, this is my phone number and they'll just rattle off a number. Um, I didn't 123456789 10. All right. Obviously, that was easy because it's in sequence, but they so fast, there's no way you can write it down. I have spent all what seems like hours, sometimes replaying and replaying a voicemail trying to get to the phone number, and it is so fast but account. So if you are giving information on the phone. Say it slowly. Please give somebody the chance to pick up a pen and make a note of what you're saying, whether it be your name, oil, phone number or an address. I was a say it slowly and repeat it because even if it is very, very slow, you don't know that you might have an accent that they are not familiar with. So even if they listen to it over and over and over again, they're listening to the same thing. If they can't quite capture word or number, they won't know if you repeat it the second time. You may just say it slightly differently. If you have an unusual address or an unusual name, spell it out slowly that on the phone you cannot see the other person's face, obviously, so you have no idea if they are understanding you. You can't see if they have a puzzled look on their face with their smiling. So take your time, put the ends of the world's on, speak very, very clearly because on a phone, your voice can become very mumbled. Andi. It is very difficult for the person listening, and they will feel awkward because they will have to keep saying Pardon? I didn't quite catch that. And then you is. The speaker will become annoyed and you'll start to think What's wrong with my voice? Why? Why can't they understand me so on the phone, speak slowly. Repeat things. If you're unsure on the phone and a nice deal, Um, then and you're you're phoning up to inquire about something, make notes before you ring. Just have it in front of you. Obviously, the person on the other end of the phone can't see that you've got notes so half notes in front of you so that you don't forget anything and turn speaking on the phone would be a lot less stressful. 7. Going to new places: it may be that you are going somewhere for the first time. Perhaps you are going Teoh, a tennis club when you've never bean before or you're taking your child to a dancing lesson and again you've never bean. You haven't mean to that building. You've never been to a dance lesson. You may not know any of the other parents. So you're unsure you don't know who to speak to. You don't know what to say. Don't be frightened. Just go in and say I'm new here. I've never been here before. I haven't a clue where I'm supposed to go or what I'm supposed to do. People love to help, and you may find if it's the beginning of a new term, that you are not the only one. But nobody else had the nerve to ask. So don't be afraid of asking. It may be that you have to go to the doctors and you're a bit worried again about speaking . You're not sure what to say. What Not say you may forget this. You may forget that. Write it down. Don't be afraid off when you go into the doctors to read your list. This is what I like. This is how I feel fright everything down. You don't want to get outside of the I for Got to mention my leg really hurts. When I do a certain thing, write it down as you think of it the same. So if you're going to any business, any accountant, solicitor, write things down so that you remember you don't want to be so anxious about speaking and so worried about it that everything goes out of your mind, they won't mind at all. You awesome. It shows that you are organized. It shows that you appreciate their time. You don't want to waste their time. I'm rambling on. So don't be frightened to make notes. And then that's one thing you don't have to worry about. Then you know that you won't forget anything so you can concentrate on how you speak 8. Top tips for speaking: Now I'm going to give you some top tips for speaking in a conversation just in a chatty mode. But they also applied to more formal occasions, giving a speech at a wedding or a work presentation. This list is available as a download with this lecture, but I will go through each one and explain a little bit about it. First of all, open your mouth. You may have the best ideas in the world. You may be the most interesting person around. Aunt. How some wonderful tales to tell. But if sound cannot get out of your mouth, no one will ever know how good you are or how interesting you are. So open your mouth. Let the sound out, trying to get straight to the point. Don't ramble on. There's nothing worse than listening to somebody, and you're sitting there thinking Get on with it. What's the point of this? What's the point of this story? And if it's in a more formal situation, don't just beat about the bush. Say what you want to say. Pick up the important bits. Don't worry too much in a conversation in a supermarket. If you're just asking or just commenting on how busy it is. But if you're talking to somebody and you're perhaps giving your opinion, you were trying to explain how good a film WAAS Be careful that you don't go on and on and on. Be enthusiastic. Smile, look interested. Sound interested? If you sound dull and fed up boring, how can you expect the person listening to get excited or interested in what you're saying , So be infused. Be enthusiastic. Make sure you pause occasionally. Don't just rabbit on and on and on and on and on without a stop. Give your listeners whether it's a speech or whether it's just a group of people and you're having a conversation. But give people a chance to catch up with you to let the ideas just sink into their brain to think. Oh yes, Never thought of that. Pulls stop occasionally. Look at the person you're talking to. Don't stare up with ceiling. Try not to look down at the ground. You may feel shy on awkward, but by looking down like this, they they won't know whether you are responding to them or not. Are you actually sharing the information with them, or are you just talking out loud to yourself, so make eye contact and I don't mean stare people. You don't want to frighten them, but glance at them, see if they're listening. See if they understand what you're saying. Smile. Listen to what people say. You cannot respond intelligently. If you are not listening, you can't even say a simple yes or no. If you didn't hear the question, speak slowly. Don't go too fast. It doesn't matter how good you are. If you speak too quickly, people will not understand. If I was to start talking really, really fast and tell you about different things, you would find it very difficult to take it in. You need to go slowly, even if you're excited. Still, try and have somewhere in your brain that, say, slow down a bit. It's almost like if your musical is almost like a beat of music. Boom, boom, boom, boom. You can go faster and you can go slower, but come back to that beat all the time. Boom, boom, boom. You don't want to be the same pace all the way through because that just comes out as monotonous and boring. Whether it's too fast or whether it's very, very slow if everything is slow than it's boring variety. But on the slow side, breathe correctly. Keep your shoulders down. Don't hunt your shoulders up. Keep them down. Helps you to breathe. Don't be so tense that all your muscles are tight. Relax, enjoy yourself. Enjoy chatting if you know that you have a problem. Andi, To be quite honest, you probably wouldn't be listening to this course if you didn't. Then practice moving your mouth. Practice using your tongue, your jaw. Different shapes. Exercise these muscles so that you can move quickly from one sound to another, so your tongue needs to be able to do toe the on it. Although I just said, Don't speak quickly. Your tongue needs to be able to move from one sound. Two simple words at all involves four movements. Actor a lot, so your tongue moves very quickly and it needs to be exercised just like any other muscle or part of your body. Try to stand or sit still. Don't be one of these people that sways from side to side all the time. They're talking or backwards and forwards. I'm not saying you have to sit still or stand still, being frightened to move. But don't be somebody who fidgets that can be very off putting for anybody listening. Try to avoid saying homes and ours unlike and okay, All right, if you know you have a habit of saying those things in order to fill in the spaces, give you time to think, then try thinking the um rather than saying it. It's very difficult if it's a habit to stop it straight away. But think it that fraction of a second where you have silence is a good thing, not a bad thing. And if you're always saying whom you know, like it was like this, like like I didn't know, like what I was doing that is so irritating to a listener. Practice out loud. You wouldn't expect to learn to swim without getting in a swimming pool. You wouldn't expect to dance without dancing to music. You cannot learn to speak clearly if you don't practice out loud. So just read is the best thing read out loud. Open your mouth. Speak slowly. Use expression in your voice out loud. Always if during your conversation or your speech or your presentation people don't seem to understand what you're saying. Don't get annoyed with them. It may be very tempting, but you have to assume that it is your fault, not theirs. Perhaps you're not explaining it quite as easily as you think you are. There's no point getting annoyed with people. Smile all the time, if possible, unless it's a really, really, really serious subject. Smile. People like people who smile and smiling will help create saliva in your mouth, which will stop your mind from drying out. Think before you speak. Are you going to upset anybody? Are you going to upset the person you're talking to? Are you going to upset their friends or family? Just think before you criticize anybody and finally, please don't wear sunglasses when you're talking to people again, I suppose a quick word in a supermarket or in a park. Obviously, if you're walking past something, they say hello, then you've got your sunglasses on. But if you're going to stop and talk to somebody, take them off. Just take them awful. Lift them up over your head. The whole point of talking to people is sharing on experience, and that includes I contact they need to be able to see if you are speaking to them. And if you got your eyes covered with our sunglasses, they have no idea. You're taking away all that facial expression. All that sharing were introduced so that judges could pass bad sentences without their face showing people couldn't see their facial expressions. You want people to see your facial expression? You want people to see that you are engaging with them and that even if you're not speaking , you are listening to them. 9. Topics for a conversation: It has been brought to my attention that a problem that a lot of people have is what to talk about. How do they pick their topics now? These topics for conversation don't have to be particularly intellectually challenging. If you're in the UK, the weather is always a good place to start. Everybody has an opinion on the weather. Is either too hot, too cold, too windy. It's always something wrong with it. Um, if you're out shopping, then obviously depends where you are for an shoe shop. Talk about shoes. If you're in a clothes shop, clothes, you're in a bookshop. Books. If you are at a train station, then trains are the early Are they late? Are they busy? But if you want something a little bit more structured than holidays, schools, courses that you may have taken in past hobbies, perhaps you love playing golf. Perhaps you were King tennis player football. You may not play, but you may have a favorite team that you love going toe watch music concerts. Are there any concerts? New. Perhaps. There's a lack of music near you films that you've recently seen. Or perhaps there was a good film that you wanted to see and missed. How about dreams? Have you had any strange dreams? Um, trips to the doctor. Trips to an accountant trips to a place of interest. A tourist touristy place. I'm just thinking of top of my head where I used to live. Dorset Monkey World Beauty Corfe Castle Um, it mean anything, anywhere. Keep an eye on the news. Even if you're not particularly into the news, just watch. The headlines will read the headlines. The news is easy to access now on mobile phone. So just click on Depends where you are. BBC news would do sky news Just see what's happening in the world saying but a rough idea of what to say to people if you're at a party or get together. And it's to perhaps its work colleagues that you may not know too well ask about how how long have they worked there? What do they think of it? Where did they work before? So just chapped to try to find out some sort of history of people. What have they done? What do they like? Perhaps you're to get together and you don't know anybody, and it's it's some random event. Not people that you work with, people that, you know. Perhaps it's a tourist event or a, um, wine tasting or just trying to think of some events. Music event. So take the topic. Why you there? I think first of all, And then ask them, perhaps why are they there? But not not in such a night. Right way. Why are you here? But oh, what is it that you like about wine tasting all red wines? My favorite. What about you? So thinking about your topics? Think about the subjects. Think where you are, what you are doing. Why might other people be there? You could even think. Why wouldn't you be there? Why wouldn't people want to go? That will give you a hint of something to talk about. Others say I have, as a download listed a few topics them really more to do with a more formal speech. But you could if you think about them in your head. Think of a new imaginary conversation almost. And then you could use those as a topic 10. Bonus Skillshare good: thank you for getting to the end of the course. I really hope you enjoyed it. But more importantly, I hope you learn something from it. I hope that there was a least one or two things that you thought all I had never thought of that. Well, that's a good idea. I must give that a go. If you would like to have a look at my other courses, please do so. If you want to know more about speaking more clearly or you would like, perhaps to try Skype lesson with me, then police Look at my website details. Wrong. The screen on all of these details can be downloaded as a resource. I have a Facebook page as well, which gives discounts on information and articles. If you have just completed the writing a poem course, then there is a special closed Facebook page for you. You just need to request to join. So I hope you enjoyed the course. If you want any more help, please get in touch. Have a look at my website. Have a look at my other courses. Have a look at my Facebook page. Okay, enjoy speaking. And if you did the poetry course, enjoy writing hope to see you again soon on another course