By Camille Chatterjee, published on September 1, 1999 - last reviewed on December 12, 2007
Anyone who gets the jitters just thinking about speaking in class
knows that imagining fellow students in their skivvies doesn't really
help. According to a speech expert, some people are born with a fear of
public speaking. But he's working on ways to help them overcome
Ralph Behnke, Ph.D., a speech communication professor at Texas
Christian University, has found that the highest point of anxiety and
cardiovascular activity for public speakers comes in the moment they're
expected to start talking. But another nerve-shattering high comes when
they're first assigned the speech, and this is where Behnke suggests that
people start fighting stage fright. He recommends trying the obvious but
painful: volunteering to pipe up more frequently or taking public
speaking classes. "Once you have a chance to work on your presentation,"
he explains, "anxiety drops way down."