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Preliminary Report on Results from
"Speaking Without Fear" Study

Prepared by Victoria Cunningham, Ph.D. & Lee Sechrest, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, University of Arizona

To see video of Dr. Sechrest talking about the surprising results of the study click here

May 20, 2004

A recent study was conducted to examine the ability of Morty Lefkoe's "The Lefkoe Method" to reduce or even eliminate fear of speaking in public in a group of forty volunteers recruited from Toastmasters Clubs and other random sources and who reported fairly severe symptoms related to public speaking. Subjects were randomly assigned to an experimental or a control group...All treatment sessions were conducted by telephone, and, on average, only three one-hour sessions were required to achieve treatment goals.

The results support our hypothesis that self-reported fear of speaking in public would be virtually eliminated. Before the experiment, both groups rated their last public speaking experience as an average of about 7 on a 10-point scale on which 1 meant "not at all fearful," and 10 indicated "extremely fearful". Subjects in the experimental group experienced a reduction of about 5 points to an average score of 1.5, whereas the control group remained unchanged. In addition, after receiving the same treatment, scores for the control group were also reduced by about 5 points to yield an average of 1.5. It is important to note that all subjects rated their post-treatment scores in relation to an actual public speaking experience.

We also asked subjects about other common physical sensations and cognitive difficulties often associated with speaking in public, e.g., increased heart rate, sweating, dry mouth, quivering voice, stuttering and difficulty staying focused. The results were quite consistent with those from the rating scale: prominent symptoms were reduced for everyone who received the treatment, and the difference between the experimental and control groups was large and statistically significant. Responses to additional questions to gauge individuals' self-confidence as a speaker also provide evidence that "The Lefkoe Method" was effective in virtually eliminating the fear of public speaking.


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