Saturday, April 30, 2011

Are Toastmasters weird or just wired?

Last week I ran across a web site called Public Speaking Cheat that will sell you a $99 eBook (on special for only $27) with details describing:

“The best kept secret to becoming a great public speaker” 

You can overcome your fear of public speaking in just ten minutes! You’ve probably already guessed that it involves taking drugs. The author said that before doing that:

“I tried all the traditional stuff, Cognitive Based Therapy (CBT), public speaking courses, Hypnotherapy, heck – I even went to a Toastmasters session (man those guys are weird!).”

Now, I don’t think that Toastmasters are WEIRD. I think that’s a typographical error, and he meant to say that we are WIRED.  We  are feverishly excited about learning, and we still have an intense, childlike curiosity regarding public speaking.

The drug advice was to take either beta blockers or benzodiazepines. I’ve heard of beta blockers being used, but would avoid benzodiazepines. An Australian web site about social anxiety briefly describes the side effects of these and other medications.

If you want to be scared away from benzodiazepines, just check out the PubMed web page about Alprazolam (brand names like Xanax and Niravarn). Side effects include the following symptoms:

“drowsiness, light-headedness, headache, tiredness, dizziness, irritability, talkativeness, difficulty concentrating, dry mouth, increased salivation, changes in sex drive or ability, nausea, constipation, changes in appetite, weight changes, difficulty urinating, and joint pain.”

Other less common symptoms include:

“shortness of breath, seizures, seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist (hallucinating), severe skin rash, yellowing of the skin or eyes, depression, memory problems, confusion, problems with speech, unusual changes in behavior or mood, thinking about harming or killing yourself or trying to do so, and problems with coordination or balance.”

I think I’ll pass on taking something that might reduce my anxiety, but replace it with unspecified other “problems of speech!”

The image of the wide eyed little girl is from the Library of Congress, and the staring eyes are from Andrew Bossi.

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