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Joined: 9 Jun 2008
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Posts: 788
Location: DFW, TX

29 Jan 2009, 6:41 pm

Anyone have tips for me? I've taken a public speaking class in high school and college, but past that, I've never done any public speaking. But..... Now I have to... Some of you may be upset with me for this. There is a press conference tomorrow for a Autism Speaks bill going into my state senate. It's to have insurance cover prescriptions, evaluation and ABA. I will be speaking as a person with Asperger's, but also as a parent with children on the spectrum.

I was fine with it, until I got home this evening and was reviewing my speech. Now I'm nervous. I know to find a focal point in 3 different directions to look like I'm speaking to everyone. To look just barely over the heads so it looks like I'm making eye contact. Don't imagine everyone nude because I don't have a good imagination. I've just about got my speech memorized, so I don't look like I'm reading from the sheet. I'll have a bottle of water because I'm getting over a cold. And I'm told it's okay to be a little emotional and even to cry if I need to (which I doubt I will because I don't see the boys' Autism, nor mine as a mournful thing.. though the lack of insurance coverage is definitely saddening).

So yeah.. Comments? Suggestions? Rants and Banter?

For parents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder:

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Joined: 13 Jun 2007
Age: 51
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,119
Location: My heart belongs to Anfield

29 Jan 2009, 7:01 pm

I found a few things that help me to relax when having to speak in public. I have to do it alot in my job. When using powerpoint, I start with a few of my favourite pictures that illustrate my favourite part of Asperger's: looking at the world with a different perspective. I also use a Suzanne Vega song "Bound" off her "Beauty and Crime" CD as something to waste time while I'm waiting for people to get seated, settle down, etc. This is a song that I associate with growing up on the spectrum.

When not able to use powerpoint, I keep a few pictures on the table in front of me. I also keep my notes fairly few per page. It looks like I have a lot more to say than I do, but it keeps me from getting lost in my notes and also keeps me organised.

I also use a fidget tool. I tend to fidget a lot with my hands and it tends to distract my mouth sometimes, so a fidget tool keeps my hands from doing things that are inappropriate and also helps me to focus my little distractor that lives in the back of my brain.

I tend to use a method of pacing and listening to a song that makes me feel really confident. Poe's "Haunted" CD has a song called "Control" which helps to put me into the "I can do anything with attitude" mode. The pacing helps me to get rid of some nervous energy that can translate as too much fidgeting with hands and feet. My MP3 player has become an extremely effective tool in fighting the battle against public speaking.

I hope these things help you. What you are doing is very important! Remember that above all else! We have to advocate for ourselves and what life is like on the spectrum. Especially for people with high functioning forms of autism. There are few if any resources out there for us! Good luck. When all of the tips you collect fail, remember that you are serving a very important higher purpose.

"All those things that you taught me to fear
I've got them in my garden now
And you're not welcome here" ---Poe


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Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Age: 52
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,148

29 Jan 2009, 7:10 pm

Good for you! :D

As for the speaking itself. Even though you've pretty much memorised your speech it's good to have it printed out in a large font so that you can read it easily by glancing down.

Drink some water just before you start speaking.

If you think you're going to be taking a few sips of water while you are speaking you could maybe think ahead to where you would pause naturally, and have a sip of water at those points. It helps to pace it, and if you've just made an important point it gives your audience time to take it in before you move on to your next point.

If you're nervous, try not to let it affect your breathing. Try to breathe from your diaphragm.

And try not to rush it, although that can be tempting. Take your time, so that you can be heard clearly and your audience have time to appreciate what you're saying.

Good luck and I hope it goes well. :)