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Transforming Stage Fright: From Self-Consciousness to Self-ConfidenceSM

By Lee Glickstein

In 1989, still desperately seeking a solution to my life-long stage fright, I invented the group process that came to be known as Speaking Circles®.

Utilizing soft-focus group support for finite periods of time, this deceptively simple method has turned out to be the key to gently dissolving fear of speaking in public for thousands of people around the world.

Discovering the Magic

Speaking Circles, however, are not limited to people with abject stage fright or terminal anxiety. For, when people who already tolerate or enjoy getting up in front of groups are willing to start in silence and stay steadily with one person at a time, they enjoy a quantum leap in magnetism and effectiveness.

The habit of self-consciousness lies at the core of the epidemic performance anxiety that holds back so many from living their gifts out loud. The root of this habit is that most of us had our "eye space" violated when we were too young to defend ourselves. Glared at with daggers, blame, or shame, we came to avert our eyes habitually.

Though many of us have come a long way on our paths toward more authentic communication, our eyes remain the last behavioral holdout because that's where we are most reflexively vulnerable.

The simple antidote is to practice and develop, in the context of a safe group, the capacity to maintain a soft gaze with one person at a time. Miracles flow once you lock into simply being with the individuals that make up any group, one at a time.

And when we achieve this lock-in with a support team, at our own pace and in our own style, we have mastered the secret of creating listening when we speak in the "real world."

The Relational Presence Exercises

We open 1- and 2-day Speaking Circle programs by modeling and discussing what we mean by Relational Presence, a meditative state marked by the respectful resting of one's gaze on the other as if communing with nature or a loved one.

Then, through a series of effortless exercises that gradually increase ease, participants move gently through whatever is taking them out of their comfort and authentic power with groups. Natural silence is valued, and when words come they emerge, never rushed, from a place of stillness.

So, within an hour, participants are at home with this singular, learnable capacity that is the key to ease and power in front of any group, any time, anywhere without compromising Relational Presence.

Opportunities follow to apply and practice Relational Presence while standing in front of the group, as well as to give and receive essence appreciation. Such practice continues in ongoing Speaking Circles and intermediate and advanced programs.

Life is challenging enough without having to labor under the debilitating fear of looking bad. And all it takes to transform self-consciousness into self-confidence is a small shift of focus and some good support.

To assess your level of ease in speaking, take our Stage Fright Quiz.

© 2003-2007, Lee Glickstein. All rights reserved.





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