WEST MILTON — Ludlow Falls native Tony Smith understands glossophobia — the fear of public speaking — and has made a career of helping people get over that fear.
The communications professor at St. Petersburg College in Seminole, Fla., has drawn on his years of coaxing nervous college students through his public speaking courses and published a book titled, “Finish Your Damn Speech.”
It’s a book for anyone — not just reluctant college kids — who might find themselves needing to speak in public, Smith said.
“Public speaking might come calling, as far as a maid of honor or a best man speech or, unfortunately, a eulogy. Or even a presentation at work,” he said. “Public speaking has a way of finding people.”
On Dec. 30 at the Milton-Union Public Library, Smith will be available to sign and talk about his new book beginning at 10 a.m., followed by a presentation on using Amazon and Audible to publish and sell e-books and audiobooks.
“Anybody who has a story to tell has the means to tell it, they just have to learn the process and how it works,” he said.
Smith, who plans to use the book with his students in the future, wanted to keep the book short, straightforward and affordable.
“It’s kind of an anti-textbook,” he said. “It’s not 300 pages and it’s not $300. It’s a book that you could read in less than three hours.”
Smith called it “Finish Your Damn Speech” partly to grab attention, but also to encourage people to “stop worrying and start doing.”
Smith said he enjoys working with nervous students to help them develop more confidence in themselves and their speaking ability. He hopes that his book, a condensed version of the courses he offers, helps others as well.
“When it clicks for them, it clicks for you as to why you do this and teach — helping people that are really nervous and feeling uncomfortable to realize their potential and achieve success,” he said.
The book is currently available in Kindle or paperback format on Amazon and audiobook version will be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in early January.
“It’s something I wanted to do for years and now it’s done. Makes you feel good,” he said. “And I think it could help people that read it.”
Smith, who has always wanted to author a book, previously owned a DJ business, worked as a newspaper reporter and hoped to go into radio. He went back to college in his late 20s and got his masters at Miami University, where he discovered a love of teaching public speaking.
“I thought, teaching speech classes — that could be it for me,” he said. He later received a doctorate in leadership and education from Barry University.
He moved to Florida for an opportunity to teach at St. Petersburg College and was named the third highest-rated community college professor in the country on RateMyProfessors.com in 2012.
Smith lived in Ludlow Falls for 30 years and always thought he was ready to be done with small town life. The Milton-Union graduate moved to Florida in 2004 to teach, but now spends many of his breaks back home in Ohio and hopes to come back someday, he said.
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