Congratulations, You’ve Got Stage Fright!

You won’t believe me now, but it’s a good thing to have stage fright. In fact, the more stage fright you have, the better presenter or performer you can become, and the more potential you have to be a deeply impacting communicator and speaker! The reason is that you have the feelings. Your feelings are at the surface where they can be used to create a genuine emotional connection with the audience.

In my Speaking from the Heart classes, it is always the person who has the most stage fright who becomes the most affecting and inspiring speaker. Take Brenda Wind for instance. Brenda came to my class after a long court battle over sexual harassment that had destroyed her self-confidence. In her first class, Brenda was so terrified to speak in front of her eight classmates (most of whom were just as anxious as she was) that her whole body trembled uncontrollably. To stand in front of her small group was at first deeply frightening, because so much past emotion from the court battle was brought to the surface of her awareness. Her body was wracked with the intensity of her emotion.

Slowly, over several weeks of classes, Brenda began to give herself permission to experience all her feelings and to share them with her classmates. Most felt similar discom­fort, so they accepted her intense feelings and accepted her for having them. As she embraced all her emotions, Brenda felt safe to experience them in front of her group. Those emotions, which seemed so negative and created such tension, loosened into a flow of feeling that turned into excitement, enthusiasm and passion to share. She freed her pent-up passion, making it available to use in her speaking.

Just a few months after her first class, Brenda strode confidently onto the stage of the elegant Wortham Theatre, home to Houston’s world-class opera and ballet companies. She was there to share her story with 300 women and a handful of men at the “Women Supporting Women Confer­ence,” which she had co-produced. As Brenda stood on stage, receiving support from her audience, she consciously chose to claim her space at the center of their attention. To her amazement, she was filled with the emotion of excitement as she began her story. The next day, the Houston Chronicle declared her talk “the most affecting and riveting of the entire conference.”

For the rest of her life Brenda will be able to share her insights and ideas with groups of all sizes, and her story is similar to hundreds of other transformations I have witnessed as people go through the Speaking from the Heart process. It can be your story too.