I found Essential Speaking: The 7-Step Guide to Finding Your Real Voice, by Doreen Downing to be a wonderful book—ostensibly about public speaking, but also about learning how to be true to yourself while in the presence of people listening to you.
Statistically, fear of public speaking is said to be higher on the chart than fear of death. Indeed, for many, public speaking is the same as death. Doreen Downing, a psychotherapist who understands human depths and motivations very well, wrote this book based on her experience of facing her own fear—terror, even—of public speaking. A high achiever and graduate of Toastmasters, she came to realize that simply putting a better face on her speaking achievements didn’t bring her closer to her heart. Her original desire to share good things with an audience had been replaced by a look-good mask. This wasn’t enough for her: she wanted the real thing—real answers, real connection.
Setting about to discover the true source of her own public speaking fears, she found fear of being seen and criticized to be the real problem, and learning to be open-hearted and connected to be the cure. Based on her personal understanding, she has since helped many other people traverse the mountain path of their own fears, and break through joyfully. Her book, based on her work with Speaking Circles, has the ring of truth from one who has lived it and transcended it, and now helps others.
In providing seven essential steps (starting with “Be Silent”); illuminating case histories and stories from her own life; instructive and evocative writing; and the compassionate heart of a therapist, Downing’s book speaks to the universal human need to be recognized, appreciated, and encouraged to speak confidently from the essence of who we are. Even if you don’t need to speak in public, just reading this book for its own sake can help you to more fully understand how you may be hiding your light under a bushel, and open up a wonderful world where nothing need stop you from sharing your authentic voice.
–Naomi Rose, Book Developer; creator, “Writing from the Deeper Self”; author, Starting Your Book: A Guide to Navigating the Blank Page by Attending to What’s Inside You (www.essentialwriting.com, www.rosepress.com)