Among all human fears, speaking in public is one of the greatest. Most of us are at least a little apprehensive about standing up and speaking in front of even a small group of trusted friends. Yet, those who can speak well in public enjoy more success in business than those who cannot. Consider this. Suppose you are part of a workplace team given the task to pull together a plan for the organization, perhaps a marketing strategy. The study done, someone must report the findings. Whom will the boss remember: the team who put together the report, or the messenger who delivers it? The presenter will of course: the one who chooses to speak on behalf of the group.

A smaller group of people, but still quite significant given that their numbers are in the millions, have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others. They are anxious that what they say will embarrass or even humiliate them. They dread the consequences of their own actions. In many cases, their fear may be so severe that it interferes with their work and other everyday activities. Often, physical symptoms accompany their intense anxiety-their social phobia if you will. They blush, sweat profusely, tremble visibly, make become nauseous, and have difficulty talking.

Shyness (social phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder) can be a serious problem. Certainly, it can be career limiting. Characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations, it can be debilitating. While social phobia may be limited to only one type of situation-a person may only fear speaking in formal situations-some may even fear eating or drinking in front of others. In its most severe form, a person may experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.

As painful limiting as social phobias-including simple shyness-may be, there are nevertheless easy-to-learn, practical steps that can help anyone deal with them. In most situations, just seven steps are all it takes to make a profound difference. With a little time, some focused effort and these Seven Steps for Personal Freedom™, most people suffering from social anxiety can once again, lead productive, fulfilling lives.

STEP 1: Imagine the anxiety-producing situation. Get a clear picture of it.

STEP 2: Pretend you are a scientist looking at this situation. Write-be certain to WRITE down-exactly what you and others involved see, hear, and do.

STEP 3: Imagine that those who may be negatively affecting you are in a cage, surrounded by a hedge, behind an unbreakable glass barrier, etc. Imagine you are a scientist examining their behavior as they do their thing. At first, do this for just a few seconds, then for longer and longer periods.

STEP 4: Now, more comfortable imagining the other person, picture yourself doing something different from what you usually do.

STEP 5: When the above situation comes up again, do STEPS 1 through 4, for real this time! At first, just look at the person. As this becomes easier, do STEP 4.

STEP 6: Reappraisal. What do they actually say, do, and look like? Chances are, at this stage, these things are not so bad after all.

STEP 7: Where did you learn this evaluation? For example, what did your parents do when they were in a similar situation? How about a teacher, your boss, or a close friend? What did they say, or do? How did they look?

Repeat these steps for each situation in which you feel yourself getting anxious. Take control of your career so others don't!


Gary Screaton Page is a professional speaker and author of Pressing Your Own Buttons: How to Take Control of Your Life So Others Don't™. For more information, email
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