The Speaking Circles cure for public speaking anxiety arose from my own 45 years of severe stage fright. I was the deer in the headlights guy, and it was humiliating.
Toastmasters didn’t help, nor did other methods to break through this confounding issue. It took decades to finally realize that I was approaching the problem from the wrong end!
I’d assumed that the issue was a block in speaking that I needed to power through until the epiphany came that the problem was not a block around speaking but a block around letting in the available listening.
This shift transformed my experience with groups and led to my life work helping others effortlessly solve speaking anxiety by coming into what we call Relational Presence with any audience.
This shift to recognizing the listening as the most powerful intelligence in the room is why the primary guideline in Speaking Circles is to the audience: for them to be available in a way that supports the person up front to relax into the listening.
The corollary guideline is for the person up front to avail themselves of the available listening by always and only being with one listener at a time while really seeing them so they feel seen.
This instruction may seem impossible at first. “How can I really see you at the same time I’m thinking about what to say?” Well remember, the block isn’t about speaking, it’s about letting in the available listening, so the work up front is to discover how to attune to the listening without thinking about what to say.
Once your priority shifts to making the listening in the room more important than your speaking, big shift happens.
With this new priority, the pace of your thinking and your speaking naturally harmonize with the available listening in the room. You flow with ease. That’s the promise.
I devised this method in order to solve severe stage fright because that was my issue, but over the years it became apparent that this practice works wonders even for experienced speakers who want to be more naturally authentic, without performance techniques. For them, these sessions become advanced training in magnetism and charisma.
How can it be that the same exact process works for such a wide range of needs?
How can it be that at a session you might have an anxious newcomer sitting next to a professional speaker, and the professional speaker winds up learning more about authenticity from the newcomer than the other way around?
The reason is that the same exact process works because it goes to the common root cause of all grades of performance anxiety, self-consciousness, and diminished authenticity. It goes back to how we were listened to as children. Or not listened to. How our voice was valued, or not valued.
My own early public speaking experiences were around the dinner table, night after night, year after year, with a dad who alternately tuned me out and treated me with contempt, with an older brother who mercilessly teased and ridiculed me, and with a mom, the silent martyr, who felt sorry for me. She too had to stifle her voice to survive. The tragedy was that she was the brains of the family and its spiritual heart, but had no voice in family decisions. It was as if we had elected the wrong president of the household and we suffered mightily for it.
This is why it is particularly fulfilling for me to see so many women of all ages finding their bold voice at Circles.
The Organic Cure
Whatever degree of anxiety or contraction you may have around accessing your full voice, the cure is to have positive “corrective” experiences in an enriched listening environment, which is what a Speaking Circle is. These experiences literally rewire the brain. See these articles for scientific support for this reality.
My brain was wired at a very early age to associate being seen with contraction and anxiety. Speaking Circle practice has built powerful new neuro-pathways that associate being seen with expansion and pleasure.
Your true voice emerges naturally when you shift your attention from where the block seems to be, to where it actually is.
Thanks for listening!
© Copyright 2017, Lee Glickstein. All rights reserved.