The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use our anonymous form, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I have just been promoted to a position where I have to give reports to my group. I have always hated public speaking and it is getting worse. When I stand up, my knees and hands start shaking, I get all red in the face and my throat feels like it is closing up. My voice is shakey and I feel like a fool. Someone told me to picture "my audience" in their underwear. It didn't help. I am afraid I will get fired if I can't overcome this problem.


Dear Nervous:

Public speaking phobias affect about 90% of the population. If you don't believe me, watch any speakers' hands. Almost all speakers get shakey hands when they start addressing an audience. I know this doesn't help, but at least you know you are not alone.

There are a variety of psychological techniques to help people overcome phobias. But for public speaking phobias, here's a quicker fix: one inderal tablet an hour before your presentation.

Most of the symptoms you describe are high blood pressure symptoms caused by your "anticipatory anxiety." You anticipate being nervous and making a fool of yourself and that raises your blood pressure, causing those symptoms which make you feel foolish -- a whole vicious cycle. An inderal tablet blocks your high blood pressure symptoms. When you know you willl not have those embarrassing symptoms, you can start anticipating that you will feel fine and speak well, thus creating a new healthy anticipatory cycle.

Tell your physician that you have a public speaking phobia and that you would like to use inderal just when you have to make a speech. If you do not have low blood pressure, you will probably get a prescription.

If for medical reasons you can not take inderal, there are many psychological techniques to overcome your problem. I have used them for years with patients and can recommend them, but they take much longer to work than inderal. Next week's column will go into these other techniques.

The Career Doctor

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The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.


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