The Alchemy of Public Speaking: Turning Performance Anxiety into Presence

We can alchemically transform performance anxiety into presence in our physical body.  Alchemy is a term for turning a less valuable substance into a more valuable one. The human body is a laboratory for transformation of consciousness.

Performance anxiety is a distressful reaction to energy trying to flow through the body when we become the center of attention. High intensity emotional energy gets stirred up in the body when we become the center of attention for speaking, presenting or performing.

Presence is a flow state of awareness in the body. Presence happens when we relax deeply into the body and maintain a full-bodied sense of being at home inside our skin. When we become comfortable in our skin, we experience a magnetically charged state of being present in this moment.

As in alchemy, we can shift one energy state into another more valuable and positive one.  We can transform the inner experience from performance anxiety into presence. That process is simple if we are willing to be authentic. It is virtually impossible if we are not willing to get real with listeners.

Here are the steps:

1.  Feel the  internal sensations of performance anxiety. Give yourself permission to experience the sensations and say yes to them.

2.  Express the inner experience outwardly somehow.  Say you are nervous or tense or anxious. Yes say it out loud! Share your inner climate with listeners.

3.  Release the tension into a feeling of flow inside your body. This starts to happen immediately as soon as your express your truth. The tension that was balled up inside starts to dissolve as soon as you give yourself permission to experience and express it. And soon you experience a lovely flow state inside your skin.

This process is so simple! The problem is that most people don’t give themselves permission to be authentic about the performance anxiety so the tension stays in the body and destroys our confidence and comfort.

OK, so you say that you can’t possibly share your speaking fears at work with you co-workers and bosses. You think they will eat you alive.  Your judgment of them holds your tension in place. I say, yes you can! Use humor to make fun of yourself.  Or share that you are nervous because you want to do a good job of contributing your ideas and expertise.

I am currently working with a web marketing company that is growing at a fast pace.  Their president intuitively uses this emotional energy alchemy for speaking to his employees and clients. He is highly sensitive and feels lots of energy when he has to speak to groups.  So he spontaneously shares he is so nervous.  within seconds, he feels safe and comfortable to speak. Then he does an inspiring job of speaking. He turns the anxiety into energy to be present with his listeners and he thrills them with his authenticity.  His employees adore him and his clients (of which I am one) know him to be a valuable partner in building their businesses.

Alchemy is a  great metaphor for turning fear of public speaking into energy, enthusiasm and excitement. The same energy felt as fear and anxiety can instantly become the feeling of presence and flow. Anyone can do this. Our bodies are channels for emotional energy. The secret ingredients are acceptance and expression.

Do you struggle with performance anxiety that prevents you from being as brilliant at speaking as you are at what you do? Give alchemy a test. Let yourself experiment by adding the potent ingredients of feeling and expressing the inner waves of tension.  Learn to ride the emotional waves inside your body and you will become a powerfully authentic speaker!