The Mind-Body-Emotion Connection in Fear of Public Speaking and Stage Fright


Stage fright is fear of feeling in front of others.  It is the fear of revealing that you are human and that you have human emotions that are not always positive. It is fear of being seen for who you truly are.  Becoming the center of attention also triggers feelings of shame – shame simply for being who you are. 

 Stage fright comes from the belief that you should be perfect, and that somehow you are not only not perfect, but far from being even barely just good enough.  These feelings set up the devastating expectation that you are going to be judged as lacking or less valuable than others.  The voice of stage fright says, “Something is fundamentally wrong with you.  Everybody else is OK, but are not.”

 If you have a lot of stage fright, you have absorbed this belief and expectation at a deep level.  Therefore, you will need to change it at a deep level.  It is important to understand that you did not absorb this belief and expectation because there is something wrong with you.  Rather, you absorbed it because there is something very right with you: you are sensitive, and your sensitivity is a valuable gift that you have to give to others.  Your task is to claim your sensitivity and passion, putting them to work for you, so that you can give your gifts to others, sharing your ideas, awareness, expertise and talents.

 David Wheaton is a very sensitive man who participated in Speaking from the Heart.  A gifted salesman, he was terrific with people one-on-one, and was so likable that he effortlessly closed million-dollar sales of drilling equipment.  Powerful executives sensed his integrity and trusted him enough to make huge investments on his recommendation. 

 When it came to speaking to groups, however, his anxiety made him feel like he would jump out of his skin.  His blocked-up passion generated great heat in his body, and he sweated profusely, a source of great humiliation over the years.  During his Speaking from the Heart groups, he began to bring towels to class to mop up the puddles of perspiration.  It became a class joke, and as he learned to make fun of himself, he realized nobody cared about his sweat.  It was not a big deal to anyone but him.  He had so much fun with his sweating that it ceased to be a humiliation and became the source of self-deprecating humor.  Now he doesn’t sweat the sweat. All the warmth of his likable personality comes across in his talks to groups, just as it had in one-on-one sales presentations. His attention is now focused on telling his delightful stories about sales success, and he feels free to speak in front of groups.

Posted by Sandra Zimmer
Twitter @sandrazimmer