Read an Excerpt
From Agony to Ecstasy: Tapping into Your Own Natural Power
"I physically shake in terror and am unable to communicate a point of view."
"I am petrified, waiting for the audience to expect me to do badly."
"I'm a polished, professional speaker, but I have a deeper message hidden away and I feel I'm turning my back on it."
Would you like to transform your agony over speaking in public to ecstasy, no more waiting?
Speaking without fear is your birthright!
- You are asked to present a toast at your best friend's wedding. No problem. You'll look into the happy couple's eyes and tell them what's in your heart.
- Tomorrow morning you're giving a three-minute pep talk to your sales team. You take five minutes to consider what you want to cover. Now you can't wait to get at 'em.
- Tonight you are speaking to 150 people. Instead of being paralyzed with fear and anxiety, uncertain about the outcome--or compulsively overpreparing and rehearsing every word of your talk--you are looking forward to the evening!
Do these scenarios sound impossible, or at least unrealistic? No longer. This is the essence of a new way to communicate based on relaxed, natural, authentic human connections, and on accessing your genuine passion.
Speaking from our heart lets us compel rapt attention every time we speak. Even inexperienced speakers with severe stage fright can gain heartfelt support and immediate trust in sales presentations and classrooms, at dinner tables, in corporate training--while giving a toast at a wedding or a keynote to ten thousand.
Speaking can be fun! Easy, delightful, electric, cathartic, and fulfilling.
You deserve not to have stage fright. And if you are already a polished speaker, you deserve to learn how to go beyond polish.
You will never again have to memorize a speech.
You can be a free, warm, happy speaker and captivate your audience every time.
Everyone can give a talk without fear. Most people were taught to fear groups as a child. That dread will now disappear.
Some of you have already suffered terribly in front of groups. Maybe you will recognize yourself in these real-life quotes:
- "I'm an introvert, not a performer. In college speech class I threw up after every speech."
- "When I speak to even a few people, fear of saying the wrong thing and looking stupid just overwhelms me."
- "I'm so painfully self-conscious, my throat tightens up and I have trouble breathing."
- "I have difficulty finishing even one sentence, let alone getting across what's in my heart."
Some of you suffer from a different anguish:
- "Shyness isn't my problem, nor do I have stage fright. But I hide behind a rhetorical speaking style, like a politician. I don't really reveal my heart. I have a deeper message hidden away, but I feel like I'm running scared."
There is a new, easier way to enjoy talking to three people or to three thousand.
This book tells how to do this. Simply, quickly. You can now be happy in front of people. You can now be yourself. In this book, you will discover:
- How to get past public speaking myths: public speaking is not about performance. It is about expression of our authentic selves. Stage fright is not to be conquered and overcome. It must be honored and moved through. Critical feedback does not spur improvement. Positive feedback nurtures growth.
- How to defuse your Inner Critic.
- How to quickly be yourself--the key to compelling rapt attention.
- Why humor is not about making people laugh. Humor is about letting people laugh!
- Why being real is mesmerizing.
- How to find your natural speaking style--one that has a deep impact on people.
- How to listen while you speak. Why good listeners are good speakers.
- How to have instant rapport--the four basic steps to connect with any audience.
- How to go from being charisma--impaired to vibrantly vulnerable.
- How to turn nervousness into--nirvana!
- How to quickly and easily prepare a talk that opens minds and reaches hearts.
From Charisma-Impaired to Vibrantly Vulnerable
I grew up "charisma-impaired" and developed these principles and practices from my own desperate need to overcome the world's worst stage fright.
The very first public talk of my life was a disaster. It was my bar mitzvah speech. Bar mitzvah is the ceremony at which a Jewish boy comes of age--but at thirteen, puberty for me was still just a rumor. I uttered the traditional opening line, spoken by Jewish boys throughout the ages: "Today I am a man." Only instead of the assertive adult voice I was trying for, the line came out in a squeaky soprano!
It brought down the house, and I was so embarrassed that I didn't speak again in public for twenty-five years.
In 1974 I moved to California and became deeply involved in the human potential movement. Many of us "potential humans" were exploring our inner selves with Werner Erhard, Ram Dass, encounter groups, sensitivity training, and every other psychospiritual fad that came down the pike.
I avidly aspired to "become a person," though to paraphrase a Lily Tomlin line, I later wondered if maybe I should have been more specific.
But I was also exploring stand-up comedy and public speaking. Putting my feet directly into the fire seemed the only way I'd ever get through stage fright, a fright that felt more like winged bats than "butterflies in my stomach."
More than a decade before Tony Robbins had his followers walking on hot coals, I trod scorching stages as a way of dealing with my excruciating shyness. It helped, but not enough: I was still shy, but now I could almost survive being shy in front of many people instead of just two or three. I transformed my hidden insecurity into public insecurity. My bats were beginning to fly in formation. My performance hysteria had subsided into anxiety. Clearly, there was more to learn.
Unlike some aspiring speakers, I was constitutionally incapable of covering up my nervousness and insecurity with the techniques or posturing that serve as a crutch for "Outer Speakers," my term for those who hide their true selves, who speak to the audience, not to individuals--who put on an external show as camouflage to disguise the true self, the wonderful Inner Speaker.
Frankly, such tricks made me more self-conscious and uncomfortable as I struggled with acting "lessons" and gimmicks billed as "surefire" audience turn-ons. My apparent liability, however, held the key to everything I now know about public presentation.
I experimented with processes that might help me--and would later help the clients I coached in presentation skills. One day I asked myself what would happen if I didn't try to cover up my discomfort, didn't pretend I wasn't tongue-tied, didn't talk faster and faster to avoid the silences, didn't memorize every word for fear of drawing a blank?
I had no way of knowing whether this utter lack of presentation would work. At first I found the thought of a more natural approach unnatural! But I wanted to test out my theories (or hunches, really) to see if they worked.
I decided to get a few people together--and have each of us take a turn standing in front of the group, being exactly who we were in that moment. We could do whatever we wanted for five minutes--talk, sing, recite poetry, or just stand in silence.
From the Hardcover edition.