For millions, the idea of public speaking is terrifying--actually ranking ahead of the fear of death. Many books on public speaking promise to turn shy talkers into impressively confident speakers, but Speaking Scared, Sounding Good is different. Written by Dr. Peter Desberg, a practicing psychologist who has taught thousands of people to speak in front of groups, it doesn’t make ridiculous claims. What it does do is provide you with proven techniques that will enable you to make it through any speech and—even though you may still be nervous—sound as if you know what you are talking about. You’ll learn how to relax, how to focus, and how to set reachable goals for yourself. Through worksheets and self-tests, you’ll be able to isolate and address your individual needs. The author even discusses the unique speaking problems associated with dyslexia.
If the fear of public speaking has been holding you back in your career—or if you’ve simply run out of excuses to avoid talking in front of your local garden club—Speaking Scared, Sounding Good will successfully guide you through the process.
Peter Desberg, PhD, received his doctorate from the University of Southern California. He is a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and also a licensed clinical psychologist. For over twenty five years, he has conducted seminars and workshops on controlling stage fright for business people, students, performers, athletes, job applicants, and others. Dr. Desberg is the author of sixteen published books and numerous articles. He and his family currently reside in the Los Angeles area.
The How-Scared-Are-You? Quiz
Understanding Your Fear of Public Speaking
1. What Really Causes Stage Fright?
2. Identifying Your Fear-Provoking Thoughts
3. Evaluating Your Fear-Provoking Thoughts
4. Controlling Your Fear-Provoking Thoughts
Tools for Reducing Your Fear-Provoking Thoughts
5. Setting Goals
6. Learning to Relax
7. Dealing With Avoidance and Procrastination
8. Improving Your Memory
9. Practicing for Optimal Performance
Broadening Your Presentation Skills
10. Using the Public Speaker’s Toolbox
11. Creating the Right Impression
12. Using Humor in Public Speaking
13. Interviewing Successfully
14. Overcoming Shyness
A. A Crash Course in Public Speaking
B. Relaxation Transcript
About the Author 279
You are reading this book for one reason: The thought of public speaking makes you nervous, really nervous. You’ve heard other people speak effortlessly and fearlessly in different situations and in front of audiences of all sizes, so what’s wrong with you? Why do you, and you alone, suffer from stage fright? As you read Speaking Scared,Sounding Good, you’ll discover that there isn’t anything wrong with you.
You are not alone. Even the best speakers among us sometimes get stage fright.
In their bestseller, The Book of Lists, David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace point out that the fear of public speaking is the number-one fear in America. The fear of dying comes in at number five. What this suggests is that most Americans would rather die than talk in public! If you’ve ever been called on to speak in front of an audience, you may understand why—that racing heart, narrowing throat, and profuse sweating sure make you feel like the end is near, but it’s painfully slow in coming.
You’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to suffer like this. A little reading and practice can help you overcome these dreadful feelings that hold you back from reaching your true potential as a speaker. The program presented in this book is based on proven methods that have been tested on hundreds of people, just like you, who have gone through my stage-fright workshops or consulted with me individually. The techniques and exercises throughout this book are easy to do and will have you successfully managing the fear that wells up inside of you whenever you are faced with the prospect of speaking in public. The more you know about why you have stage fright, the easier speaking in front of others will be. Woody Allen once said, “Any theory that you can put in a nutshell belongs there.” Well, here is why people get stage fright in a nutshell:
Everyone wants to perform well in front of an audience. If you think the audience won’t like you, you’ll be afraid to get up in front of them.
You’ll feel even worse if a negative evaluation of your performance could result in personal or professional problems.
This book explains the general causes of stage fright and helps you identify the specific causes of your own fears. You will be coached to handle your fears at three levels—through your emotions, your thoughts, and your actions. You will be guided through helpful exercises at each level. This will give you a wide selection of skills for dealing with stage fright under any condition—personal encounters, interviews, sports or music performances, and most important, public speaking.
In going through this book, you will need to follow a simple procedure. First you read it, then you try it. There is a difference between reading and learning. Reading is a passive process, while learning is an active one. This book will not be a passive experience for you; it’s not a book to cuddle with under your blankets. You will be asked to work with the book in designing and carrying out your own improvement program.
I will be your coach throughout these pages, but you will learn to control your fears on your own. You will do a lot of thinking about and imagining what it is like for you to speak in public.
What you’ll likely discover is that the thinking and imagining process actually causes most of your stage fright. As you practice the various exercises throughout the book, you’ll learn to tap into and record your thoughts and fears. This will help you pinpoint your specific needs and will help you design your own treatment. Each chapter begins with a “Big Idea.” As you read through the chapter, reflect on how it relates to the “Big Idea.”
No matter the level of anxiety you currently experience when faced with public speaking, you’ll learn how to control your fear and get through a presentation. If you diligently practice the lessons in this book, your fears will be reduced and you might even find yourself beginning to enjoy public speaking. Opportunities will arise as you begin to present yourself with more confidence.
I truly enjoy speaking in public now, but it wasn’t always like that. When I was a student,
I was sure there was no worse torment. When faced with giving a speech, I felt like a five-yearold boy whose angry mother had just shouted,
“Just wait till your father comes home!” For me, this dread lasted throughout graduate school.
However, after years as a university professor who practices public speaking daily, I’ve learned how to do it, and I do it well. Now, I challenge myself by playing the guitar and singing in front of live audiences. Yes, it makes me anxious, but I have learned to turn my anxiety into excitement and my fear into anticipation—just as I will teach you to do in this book.
When you are preparing to begin a diet, you must first step on the scale to determine your starting point. In this case, your scale is your
Anxiety IQ. Grab a pencil, turn the page, and let’s see how much stage fright is...