stage fright

A prescription for nervous public speakers

July 26, 2011: 1:13 PM ET

Scared of giving a speech? Forget trying to relax. Instead, a new book says, put your stage fright to work -- or camouflage it.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- There are lots of books out there about how to be a more effective speaker, but few can match As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick for sheer down-to-earth candor about dealing with the all too common problem of stage fright.

Co-authors Peter Meyers and Shann Nix write, "This book is not about learning to relax" (emphasis is theirs). Quoting comedian Jerry Lewis, they declare, "If you're not nervous, you're either a liar or a fool, but you're not a professional."

Noting that Olympic athletes, Broadway stars, and other performers are anything but laid-back in the moments before they go on, Meyers and Nix add, "You're never going to be relaxed in a high-stakes situation -- nor should you be."

Whew. Takes some of the pressure off, doesn't it?

Meyers, who has spent the past 25 years coaching Fortune 500 CEOs, political candidates, and other high-powered types through his Silicon Valley-based consulting firm Stand & Deliver, has a few favorite techniques for turning raw panic into positive energy. (Hint: Don't forget to breathe.)

If, however, you're still visibly terrified at having to address an audience, here are some practical tips on how to hide the symptoms: More

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