When There’s No Stage, There Should Be No Stage Fright How I Overcame My Fear of Radio Interviews

I was not born a public speaker and never dreamt that one day I would ever have to talk in font of people or be interviewed on the radio. As a child, I was shy and would rather keep my head down in school than raise my hand in class. This fear only magnified during my high school years when fellow classmates were less than enthusiastic about helping me overcome it. However, I was
determined not to let this phobia confine me. In the words of Eddie Harris Jr., “The sooner you step away from your comfort zone, the sooner you’ll realize that it wasn’t all that comfortable.”

After my first novel was published, my publicist called with excitement and enthusiastically informed me that he scheduled 5 radio interviews. Unfortunately, my eagerness certainly did not parallel his in the least. In fact, all I could do was perseverate on the fact that I would be heard by thousands, if not tens of thousands of people all at once. This prospect consumed my thoughts for days. Would I be too nervous to speak? Would I sound intelligent? Would I simply make a fool of myself? These were the questions I kept asking myself over and over. The notion of actually promoting my novel was a distant afterthought.

However, because it was such a long journey just to be published, I was certainly not going to let my fears ruin an excellent opportunity. In order to combat these worries, I used a visualization technique that had helped me for years. Before taking important exams or presenting certain speeches, I would go to the room where I would have to perform, There, I would visualize myself taking the test or talking in front of people. Because this technique helped so well in the past, I hoped it would also allow me to quell my fear of being on the radio.

My first task was to make a list of 20 questions that could possibly be asked on the air and then type full answers to each of them. Most of the questions were obvious. What is your book about? Tell us about yourself. Who is the main character of your novel? I then created a few esoteric questions just in case there were any curveballs thrown my way. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be and why? What makes your book stand out among the thousands already on the market? What does your book say about you?

With my pile of questions in hand, I practiced the answers day after day until they were memorized. I then had my wife call me on phone and ask me these questions at random. She also threw in a few doozies just to keep me thinking. Despite all this practice, when the day of the first interview finally came, my heart was pounding. I needed to do something extra in order to reduce my lingering fears. But what? The inspiration came when listening to a morning talk show on the radio.

With my cell phone in hand, I called up the radio station, spoke to the screener, and was put on hold. My palms were sweaty, and I actually felt a little lightheaded. Within a few minutes the host put me on the air. At first my voice cracked but after a deep breath, I was able to hold an intelligent conversation and answer his questions without passing out.

Success! I hung up the phone and felt much more at ease. By the time the actual interview occurred later that day, I was mentally composed. With a bunch of pre-rehearsed questions in mind and after doing dry-run phone calls with my wife and the radio host earlier that morning, my interview went much better than I had ever anticipated. By expanding my comfort zone, I grew as person. Now, I actually look forward to doing radio interviews and seek them out whenever possible.

About the Author

Stephen Martino is neurologist practicing in New Jersey. Though not separating conjoined twins like Dr. Ben Carson, he is part of an active medical practice and is currently participating in concussion research and inventing new medical products. When he is not working, he can be found with his five children doing homework or cheering them on at a soccer field, basketball court, or dance recital. Martino is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Cub Scout den leader and is an active public speaker, helping to provide stroke education to the local community, EMS squads and healthcare professionals.

His latest book is the science fiction/political thriller, The Hidden Reality.
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