Public Speaking Jitters; Survival Clubs Ease the Stress of Giving Talks

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 30, 2007 | Go to article overview

Public Speaking Jitters; Survival Clubs Ease the Stress of Giving Talks


Byline: Ann Geracimos, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Your heart pounds. Your hands shake. Your throat is dry, your memory a blank.

All because you are called upon to give a report, a toast, a eulogy, or even an introduction to someone else's talk.

You are not alone. Public speaking is considered the most anxiety-provoking experience many people ever face - "the number one phobia in America" according to Burton Rubin of Alexandria, a lawyer by training whose own problem was so severe he started a business to help others in the same boat.

"Anxiety-relieving drugs don't always work that well," he says, comparing them to a mop that soaks up water rather than a fix for the leak.

Called Stagefright Survival School, a $2,500 course that can be taken over 10 weeks or a single intensive weekend, Mr. Rubin developed the program with a psychiatrist colleague for people whose lives are seriously affected by the same problem. By comparison, he says, Toastmasters International "is for hobbyists."

"We regard it as important to understand the mechanism of stage fright and methods to deal with it. It's essentially a chemical problem," he maintains. The not-so-secret cure? "To learn to displace self-conscious thinking - thinking about yourself." Obviously, that is easier said than done or Mr. Rubin would still be practicing law.

The Greater Washington area is awash with lawyers and other professionals who need communication skills to be effective in everyday life. Fortunately, there are several other less expensive avenues and even Web sites to which troubled souls can turn for relief in a supportive environment. Results vary, of course, with the individual and his or her diligence in confronting the issue, which, for many, goes beyond learning vocal techniques.

Learning how to organize one's remarks is an equally important skill involved in effective communication, most public speaking students agree.

That was only part of the experience enjoyed by Connie Donohoe, of Potomac, when she joined a private organization called the Capital Speakers Club. The club, which gives luncheon speakers a three-minute limit, meets monthly in Bethesda's Congressional Country Club.

"I'm very long-winded and can't say anything in three minutes," she says.

Giving a talk about planning her daughter's wedding and related matters "turned out to be very funny and in a way broke the ice for me," she recalls. Now, l7 years later, she cherishes the words of wisdom imparted to her by the club's tutor and mentor, Jean Miller, a professor at George Washington University.

"It got easier and easier every year because I lost the fear," Mrs. Donohoe says. "If you prepare, you should not be afraid. Jean was great about how to put a speech together: 'Tell 'em what you tell 'em and then tell why you told them,' " she says in a mock summary.

Candidates for the club are recommended by fellow members, all of whom are required to take an eight-week course covering basic speaking skills before joining.

"They are all women, with a lot from the diplomatic community, and women who own small businesses," says Ms. Miller. "Women give a speech at every meeting, and we grade them orally. ... I've had women [in the club] say they couldn't speak up at PTA meetings and now have the ability

"When people are in school, they don't recognize the importance of this. Not until they are faced with the prospect of giving a speech in the real world where they have real influence or want to," she adds.

By contrast, Toastmasters International, which has chapters across the world, is open to anyone 18 and older, except when a club chooses to restrict membership to a special interest group. The Web site (www.toastmasters- .org/find) lists clubs by name and number according to geographical area, along with meeting time and place and whether there is any eligibility requirement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Public Speaking Jitters; Survival Clubs Ease the Stress of Giving Talks
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.