Facing the Fear of Public Speaking With Improv From Second City

Improv can help people overcome their fear of speaking before a group.
3:00 | 01/17/14

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Transcript for Facing the Fear of Public Speaking With Improv From Second City
they fear the most? Even more than dying? It's public speaking. Heart-racing panic, no place to run. And we're seeing so many famous examples on tape tonight. Abc's john quinones decided to see how to tame that fear. Ladies and gentlemen, director and producer, michael bay. Reporter: He's one of the most successful directors in hollywood. The man behind "transformers." But last week, michael bay was giving a speech. When suddenly, he froze. He had to leave the stage. Let's thank michael bay for joining us. Reporter: On his website, an embarrassed bay said live shows just aren't his thing. Um -- I'm not good with speeches. Reporter: He's hardly the only one. Shoot. Reporter: It's something noah gordon lives with every day. It's exhausting thinking about it. Reporter: Noah works at a chicago-based marketing firm. But he's deathly afraid of public speaking. He says this paralyzing phobia affects his entire life. Your brain shuts down. You just have to stop. Reporter: Why do we panic? Experts point to evolution. Long ago, when many eyes were on you, chancing were, you were prey, about to be attacked. So, today, when you're in front of one of these, a primal part of your brain thinks it's actually, one of these. We had to either flee or fight. Reporter: Priscilla shanks, a public speaking expert who has consulted for abc, explains. The sweating is so the body can cool off quickly. The shallow breathing so that the oxygen can go to the muscles. And then, the adrenaline kicks in. All to help us fight harder and flee further. None of that works for modern man, when he's feeling frightened in a situation which is asking him to be cool, calm, collected and connected. Reporter: Noah found help at the famed second city comedy school. They put people on stage and get them comfortable with the sound of their own voice. Some of their secrets -- number one, breathe deeply right before starting. That sends a signal to shut off the fear response. Number two, get right to it. The first 30 seconds are when you're most likely to panic. So, ask a question. Get your audience involved. Is it in a club? Reporter: Noah says it's helping him face those cats back in the office. As a lion. Here's john quinones. He's at the sundance film festival, by the way. How many people there admit they've had fear of public speaking, john? Reporter: So many, diane. Hollywood heavyweights. Not only michael bay, but team like christian stewart and johnny depp say they are petrified to speak live in front of a group. Fess up. How about you? Fear of public speaking? Reporter: I was shy as a kid. My knees would shake if I had to speak in front of the class. Then, I joined a drama class. I got to play romeo in "romeo and juliet." Maybe it was kissing juliet on stage. But something brought me out of my shell. You conquered stage fright in tights. Reporter: I roared. Thanks, john. When we come back, talk about roaring. Here's a riddle, what does katy

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