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Chapter 2. Stage Fright > Why You're Afraid - Pg. 12

Stage Fright 12 · Give speeches as often as you can."Right, Rozakis," you mutter. "Like I'm going to ask for this again and again? Is this The Complete Masochist's Guide to Public Speaking? It's bad enough I have to do it once." As with anything else, practice makes perfect. Confidence in public speaking is built by experience. When I wrote this book, I had been teaching for more than 20 years. I'd done many, many live speeches in front of both large and small groups, but I'd never been on television. When my Com- plete Idiot's Guides started selling, I got lots of calls from television shows. Suddenly, I had to do the media thing. The first few shows were terrifying, but by the time I appeared on the fifth or sixth one, I started to relax. Now I really enjoy the experience, from the bagels and juice in the "Green Room" to the on-air chat with the host. In some cases, I've even asked to go back on the same show again (with a new book) because I had such a pleasant time with the host! (Maury Povich, Donna Hanover, and the crew from 20/20 were all especially gracious.) Fear of Failure Stage fright arises in part from a fear of doing poorly. You think, "I'll make a fool of myself in front of my friends!" Even worse, you may be afraid of making a jerk of yourself in front of someone specific, such as your spouse or your boss. Try these two ways to overcome this kind of stage fright: Class Act How often should you speak in public to raise your confidence level? Aim for at least one major speech a month. · Fight it.Yes, you're scared out of your wits, but unless you show it, no one will know it. After all, you're under no obligation to reveal your feelings. Don't say, "I just want to tell you how nervous I am," or "You wouldn't believe how upset I am about speaking in front of you." You may think that your fear is written all over your face. In nearly all cases, it isn't--unless you deliberately reveal it. · Visualize success.Ever hear about self-fulfilling prophecies? They take place when you talk yourself into something. For example, if you assume that you are going to do a bad job behind the podium, you'll very likely undermine your speaking performance. Instead of talking yourself into something that will create more fear and less confidence, talk yourself into something that will create less fear and more confidence. Imagine yourself making the perfect speech. Control your mental image of yourself; tap all your confidence. Realize that even though you may not bewitch the crowd with your silver-tongued orations, there is still a reason they asked you rather than the schleps in the audience. Fear That Your Speech Stinks "My speech isn't good enough. My material is terrible." This is the easiest fear to overcome because you are in total control of the speech. You wrote it; you know it cold. Nonetheless, here are some methods you can use to overcome this kind of thinking: