Speaking Circles International (R)

The Pleasure Principle

of Public Speaking






Relational Presence Basic Tools

By Lee Glickstein

Relational Presence (RP)

Relational Presence or RP is the state of listening with another beyond agenda, words, personality, effort. It is not itself engagement or making a connection, but rather a state of neutral availability for connection with no demand for it. Connection tends to arise naturally when two people meet in the RP field. Rather than using social signals like smiles and nods, RP carries with it a deeper sense of positive regard for another human being underneath the level of personality.

To reach hearts, minds and souls from a place of power and ease requires the capacity to facilitate an RP field where content and agenda flow freely. One can establish this field instantly in any situation when one has isolated, flexed and toned the RP "muscle" through the basic exercises described below.

If you haven't yet, take a look at the two videos on the home page of this website in which (1) I model and talk about it, and (2) You can view scenes from an actual Speaking Circle.

"5-and-5" Practice

A primary exercise to develop the RP muscle is two people each taking a 5-minute turn to alternately speak (if words arise) and listen. Having one or more regular partners for 5-and-5 in one's life works wonders to develop one's capacity for RP as long as you are both committed to following the basic principles of truly being present with each other in the absence of any social agenda, and without discussing each other's process. (See Public Speaking Mastery through Relational Presence.)

When any two people discover and tap into the RP field between them, every 5-and-5 is a revelation of clarity and ease.

Aside from its own benefits, 5-and-5 practice accesses and anchors the orientation which allows you to speak to exactly one person at a time in front of groups of any size. This is why 5-and-5 exercises are a foundation for Speaking Circles and more advanced programs.

The Clarity Process

We feel stuck or discouraged only when we lose sight of our purpose, possibilities, and contribution. Remembering why we are here and where we are going with crystal clarity instantly raises our energy and allows in new ideas and information. In this way, the Clarity Process gets us on track with laser focus.

Once the 5-and-5 practice flows for you with no agenda, you may add an intention to bring clarity to any challenge or opportunity in your life or work.

The Clarity Process features a series of 5-and-5's to which one brings an intention for clarity in a specific area, along with some turns addressing the group. Along the way, every "aha!" is journaled as threads are followed to specific results. Many participants in the Clarity Process emerge with a focused action plan or step.

Clairty is just one of the benefits of RP Practice, which is the foundation for all of our programs.

Speaking Circles

These ongoing 2-1/2 hour sessions are "the gym" where the RP muscle is strengthened in community.

Find a Speaking Circle near you

Speaking Circles are a great adjunct to the Clarity Process as they allow the opportunity to bring a specific intention for clarity into one or both turns (3 and 7 minutes).

Other Programs

See Programs page for monthly Saturday introductory Trainings in Relational Presence, teleclasses and weekend programs involving talk content, Leadership Presence, and Speaking Circle Facilitator Training.


I devised the Speaking Circle process in 1989 to get over my own terror of speaking in public. Necessity being the mother of invention (and perhaps desperation being the father), I stumbled into a subtle core principle of group dynamics that could be isolated in the service of systematically dissolving chronic self- consciousness in a gentle and respectful manner.

In 2004, the notion of Relational Presence (RP) came along to isolate the core principle and streamline the teaching.

We define RP as a state of listening with another beyond agenda, though we sometimes frame it as a principle, a practice, a capacity, a tool, a muscle, a standard, a state of being or state of mind. The reality is that through simple practice, most people learn how to engage it instantly, any time and anywhere. The effect is to gain mastery of a kind of super natural interpersonal power.

Crystal Clarity

What has emerged over the years is the realization that the agency through which RP brings its bounty is crystal clarity in the moment. It is clarity that neutralizes the stage fright since speaking anxiety cannot exist in a crystal clear mind.

So clarity of mind under stress and in general rises to the fore as the overarching benefit of RP practice, and public speaking ease can be seen as but the most dramatic natural outcome of mental clarity.

Other happy by-products include expanded conversational flow, juicier relationships, optimal work/business performance, and better-informed choices in health and career.

Thus while speaking to groups is a prime modality of our trainings, Speaking Circles International is devoted to advancing the application of Relational Presence practice in any and all areas of life.



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