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Curing Stage Fright: Don't Look For Approval By Lee Glickstein

Posted by Nathalie Brewer on January 4, 2012 at 5:50 AM

Next time you are in the audience of a magnificent speaker, steal a look around you and notice the faces. You might be surprised to see that almost all appear neutral, even somber, rather than in lively rapt attention as you might have assumed.


You see, an authentic speaker puts audience members at ease enough to relax their faces, listen deeply, and process within. As their facades dissolve, the weariness, turmoil, or whatever is under the surface shows through.


Why is it important to know that the brilliance of a speaker (aside from those who specialize in evoking laughter or tears) does not register on the faces of their listeners? Because if you are looking for/attached to/expecting any response at all in your audience, you will not have a moment of ease in front of a group.


I had terminal stage fright most of my life because I habitually projected contempt and disinterest onto the same expressions that I now see as supportive. When I failed to see nods of recognition I assumed the worst and went about living down to that assumption.


This is why the first guideline at a Speaking Circle is for the listeners to be in neutral Relational Presence with the person up front and abstain from giving validation signals, while maintaining positive regard for the person. This is very difficult at first for some, both as listener and person up front, but critical for all in dissolving self-consciousness and performance anxiety and moving into powerful ease with groups.


Only when I was no longer seeking approval in the eyes of my audience could I see the exquisite beauty of the rapt attention they had in their hearts for me.



 

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