Monday, May 23, 2011


We all know that public speaking terrifies more people than snakes, spiders, or airplane trips. Those who are the most terrified of public speaking itself, are terrified of taking a class to learning how to speak in public without being terrified. I led a workshop on "Writing after 50" this weekend at the Blue Ridge Bookfest, and one woman told me she had been afraid to write because of what she might find out. But it had occurred to her that if she wrote about her fear she could write a different ending. Yes, I said, and you could create a character that isn't you to live through whatever frightens you. So why not create a different persona to speak in public? We create different personas all the time in our daily lives. Hopefully, we present a different persona at work than we present to a child, a different persona to a lover than to a father. I have a chapter about creating a performing persona in Speak Up: The Public Speaking Primer. One of the exercises asks the reader to choose characteristics they want their performing persona to have–confidence, to be respected, etc.–and then to use body memories of a time when they were confident, and a time when they were respected. Sometimes workshop participants will realize that they don't really need one characteristic that they thought they were missing in their everyday personality; always do they realize that they really can create who they want to be.

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