Standing in the Rush: How to Transform Stage Fright and Fear of Public Speaking

This is the absolute bottom line of what to do to transform your public speaking tension and performance anxiety into radiant, authentic presence so that you shine in front of others.

Coaching a corporate HR executive from a Fortune 100 company on his anxiety about public speaking, I said something new, something I’ve never said that expresses the essence of what I believe it takes to heal stage fright and fear of public speaking. When he asked me to articulate the bottom line on this issue, the words that came out of my mouth were simply, “You have to stand in the rush.”

What I meant was that performance anxiety tension will release when you are willing to stay present in your body and allow the rush of adrenaline, psychophysical sensations and subtle spiritual energy to flow through you. Not only will it release, but it will actually transform into a flow state of presence that feels wonderful!

When you stand in the rush, allowing it to flow fully through your physical body without judging it or tensing up to control it, you are filled with a powerful force that vibrates and radiates from your body to others. This force is a part of your soul energy.  It is the spiritual energy that can make you a star if you allow it to operate by flowing through you.  It is the energy that creates stage presence and the magnetism to hold other’s attention.

The only way to open up your star-quality power is to go through the feelings and sensations that arise inside your body when you become the center of attention.  You just have to let yourself feel it inside your physical body until you are comfortable with the power of your feelings. Have I mentioned this is an in-the-body experience? This is such a different approach than trying to use your mind to control the feelings or trying to make them go away.

I discovered this technique in 1974 while studying acting at The University of Houston Theatre Department. I had been taking singing lessons but was not really great at singing. I had a small but sweet voice.  And I was really afraid to sing in front of other people. The department auditioned students for the musical revue “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.”  I got up my courage to audition and practiced for weeks to sing a Brel song I loved.

When it came time to audition, I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.  God I was scared! As I started into the song, I was so nervous that my voice cracked and I quickly realized I was in trouble.  A voice inside my head told me to sing with all the passion I could muster and to let my body shake. I obeyed.  I sang with full passion, all the while trembling uncontrollably. What a rush! I was so opened up by this audition, I felt like I could fly. Two days later when I looked at the roster of people who were cast in the show, I almost fainted to see my name as one of the six cast members. It was the beginning of my understanding of how to transform stage fright.

I know this is not want you want to hear! You want a tip about how to control your emotions and body with your mind.  Haven’t you that already? Stage fright is not something to control.  It is an energy flow from your soul that you have to learn to ride.  It is a rush of psychophysical energy that fills your body when you are at the center of attention. It only feels scary if you judge the feelings as wrong and try to avoid the experience. It feels amazing if you stand in the rush and express yourself fully. If you are serious about doing whatever it takes to turn your fear of speaking into passion, learn to stand in the rush.

If you want to consider participating in a safe group in which to learn to stand in the rush, read my Transform Stage Fright into Authentic Presence program description. .  If you want to read more about my methods and ideas, check out my book  It’s Your Time to Shine: How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking, Develop Authentic Presence and Speak from Your Heart.