March 8, 2013 - submitted by Asmaa, France

Q. TEAM ORACLE QUESTION #110
I'm a girl who is very shy. My teacher told me that I must do a monologue.
Please help and thank you.
Viva la vida !


The Oracle replies:

I receive many messages from people who suffer with nerves, anxiety and shyness. It's especially tough if you then add getting up and public speaking to the mix!
There are techniques you can practise as well as some herbal remedies that may work. One thing I will say though is despite shyness, feeling nervous before any performance is not only natural but it shows you care about what it is you're doing.
The first thing I want you to do, is think about what triggers the shyness. It may have been born out of low self-esteem. You may have stage fright. You may feel self-conscious. Whatever it is, find it and then work on transforming it. I am very self aware and I think it's the most powerful tool I have. Because I know myself well, I know what I do, why I do it, how to change etc.
I want you to stand in front of the mirror and say out loud all the positive things that you can think of about yourself no matter how silly you may feel.
The next thing I would advise it to concentrate on breathing. That may sound stupid but I mean very deliberate meditative breaths. Yoga or something similar will help keep you calm or any form of exercise to expel the tensions.
For your monologue the key is to learn it well enough that you are confident with the piece and the delivery. Take your time. Some people say imagine the audience are naked - that could work but I used a different technique when I used to perform on stage. If I got the jitters, I would find a spot on the back wall just above the heads (or a clock for example) and perform to that. Or if it was a dark room, I used to find people wearing glasses. As the lights would reflect, I couldn't see their eyes and I'd perform to all the bespectacled members of the audience! You could always say it to a friend, they will probably put you at ease.

You'd probably be surprised to learn that many people who ooze confidence suffer terribly from nerves - Amy Winehouse struggled before almost every performance. Don't self-medicate by the way, but Rescue Remedy is herbal and has quite an instant calming effect.
If you work on your confidence and start to repeat a positive mantra that you are great and you can do it, hopefully you will begin to feel it. Good luck!
Over to you.

Being very shy is completely understandable, and for someone that has done the lead role in some school productions, I can say that reciting a monologue in front of a large group of people can make you feel very nervous. However, there are a few things you can do that may help with your nerves. One thing that I have done in the past is first reciting the monologue in front of a small group of people that you are close to, like a couple of your closest friends, or your parents. Then, if you felt OK reciting the monologue, try practicing the monologue in an empty room so that way you can focus on the emotion, excitement, and intensity of your character, then recite it again a second time in the empty room, remembering to put in and feel the emotional impact of the character, but pretending that a large group of people are in there. And then, when the day of the monologue comes, pretend like there is no one in the room, like when you have practiced in the empty room, and remember to put emotion to the character, make it seem like it's not you who is speaking, but it is the character.
One of my teachers once told me that a good way to cope with nerves is to eat a banana before you perform, it relaxes some of your nerves.
Hope you do well on your monologue!
Sydney, United States.


Shyness is really a very nice trait, and I believe it really remains to your modesty and your soul innocence. But, if this surpasses the limits It will surely be a problem..
If you don't mind - I give you my own suggestions - for example, once a week, go alone to the Market and bring the grocery. Try to be always the good student (I'm sure you are) who always take part and share pinions with the whole class. I say that because I am very shy too. I believe in your capacities and that you will do it.
We are all the same, we must respect each other & not be scared.
Preserve your shyness because it reflect your innocence. Do a monologue like your teacher said and have self-confidence. Hasnaa.

I'm pretty shy myself, and just did a presentation last week in front of a class. I panicked the days before it, but luckily I was more calm when the day actually came. What helped me was to remember the purpose of the speech because you're doing it for a reason. For me, it was misogyny. For you, it can be what you're learning or whatever the subject is. It keeps you from worrying about small things, just know what you're going to talk about. Imagine how relieved you will be right after and remember it's only one small event in your life. Concentrate on the bigger picture. Also, the audience is usually wishing for the speaker to do well since most people have stage fright and they can sympathize, so try not to put pressure on yourself. You'll do great. Love, Darem.

Asmaa, I understand you. I’m very very shy too and when I have to make a speech in front of the class for example, I’m completely panicked and my heart is beating as hell. I have been often asked by my teacher in class to help me to become more comfortable in spoken. I think that if your teacher wants you to do a monologue, it’s only to give you your chance. Take it like a good training. If you are french (as me!), you must have some orals for the final exams (if you have not already passed them). For me it’s the most scariest thing of my school years. I have received my results for the practice and it’s not good because I did not have a training before. So, I think you should have a kind of technique to control yourself. Before speaking, you can listen to music, or read a book. Laugh with your friends is a good thing too! And when you are talking alone in front of people, just think that they are like you. They are scared and they would not like to be in your shoes at the moment, so it’s time to show that you are not afraid to speak loudly and make a great monologue to impress your teacher! And if you don’t success, think you have already lived the worst!
Good luck and much love from France xx Margaux.

One of the most important things to be aware of is that many, many people get nervous when they speak, perform, or present in public. And guess what? People who you think might not ever be nervous - like "experts" or people who perform and speak for a living still often get very nervous when expected to present publicly. I just presented some papers recently, and in doing so, I came to realize that two of my idols still (after 30+ years) get nervous when they do the same thing. All you can do is prepare until you feel comfortable and practice with family and friends. But, make sure to get good rest the night before so that you feel ready to go the day of. It can also be a good idea to do some sort of meditative, breathing, or other type of thought exercise before you give your monologue to calm your own nerves and help center yourself. Basically, if you can, take a few minutes to exhale before you go on. It is also
fine if you stumble a bit too in the process of giving your talk. I have found that people often over-recognize their own mistakes while the audience may not notice these irregularities at all. And just remember that these things get easier with time and practice. Good luck! Susannah.


I sometimes still get incredibly nervous so here are a few of my tips:
1) Try not to worry too much - in the big picture of your life this monologue / speech is only a small part (although I know it feels huge at the moment!) Worrying tends to intensify nervousness.
2) PREPARE! Make sure you really know your speech. Practise / read it aloud to your parents / friends until you know every nuance, comma, full stop, breath. Speaking / acting in public is easier when you are thoroughly prepared.
3) Breathe deeply. Focus on your breathing and on taking long, deep breaths - deep breathing has a calming affect.
4) Find your ‘zone ‘ within that monologue ie find the place where you feel happy, comfortable within your speech – eg ‘become’ the character, totally feel, believe what you are saying.
5) When I am extremely nervous I ask myself what the worst case scenario for me would be, then I imagine it happening, & then I imagine the possible outcomes & how I would deal with them. For me imagining myself facing the ‘worst possible’ takes away a lot of the pressure, &, I remind myself that failure / making a mistake is just another opportunity for me to grow & learn.
6) Finally, once you have given your monologue don’t worry about it - it is finished! (Try not to rehash / over-think what you did / could have / didn’t do).
So take a deep breath, & go for it! I will be thinking of you! Cali.

There are many tricks for speaking in front of an audience, but to improve your skills in the long run the best thing is it to do it again and again. Now there probably are only a few days left and you have to be fit for your job.
Nothing can replace a good preparation: read your papers and learn it well, but also find some “victims” to talk with them about the subject. Then practise your speech in front of the mirror, boxes, upside down brushes, your rabbit, siblings, friends,…the more funny the better!
There are methods to memorize texts like to imagine walking along a well known way (in your house or your way to school)and connecting things on that way with a keyword for your text. Use memory hooks! This will help during your monologue also when you’re nervous.
Wait until the classroom is quiet before you start and search some different points in the room where your eyes can rest. Between them you can look to the faces, they have to listen! One of the oldest and most simple tricks is to imagine your listeners sitting there in a strange situation, be fancy! Not every advice might be comfortable for you, choose what you think it could help - and maybe next time something else. Good luck! L. Q.


Many years ago, when I was younger, I auditioned for a school play. It was the 2nd play I had ever been in, and I was just a background character my first year. However, that year, I got my first speaking role, and that speaking role consisted of 3 whole pages of dialogue at the very beginning of the play. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous, and when the first night of the performance came about, I had prepared as much as I could, and I was still a nervous wreck. When I got up on stage, I zoned out, and focused on what I was saying, and more on how I was delivering it, then who I was delivering it to.You see, the fear of speaking in front of people comes from a lack of confidence. If you place a higher priority on presenting to yourself, and meeting your standards, then you can rest assured that who you're speaking to won't seem so scary. Best of luck! Bradley H.

Thanks to all those who replied to this week’s question. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's, and send us your answer.