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Got Stage Fright...? Tap into Speaking Confidence

Mar 14, 2021

Maybe you are familiar with this feeling: your heart is pounding out of your chest... your palms are sweaty... your mouth is dry... and your mind is racing through a multitude of devastatingly humiliating scenarios.  This is the experience of many people when they are given the opportunity to speak in front of an audience.  If this is the case for you, there is hope... and it is simpler than you may have expected.

There is a simple mind/body technique known as EFT, short for Emotional Freedom Techniques, though many people refer to it as Tapping.  This is because it is a process of literally tapping, with your fingertips, on certain points on your face and torso.  While that may sound a bit strange to you if you are not familiar with it, it is one of the quickest and simplest ways of reducing stress... and you can do it just about anywhere.

If you are afraid of looking foolish while speaking in front of an audience anyway, it is understandable if you are resistant to the idea of tapping on your face while up on stage. While there are subtle ways to tap in that situation, you can clear much if not all of the fear prior to the event.

This process is based on acupuncture, which has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.  The premise is that there is a flow of energy through the body along pathways called meridians, and dis-ease is the result of this energy getting stuck.  A doctor would insert needles at key points to stimulate the natural healthy flow of energy.  With EFT, tapping with our fingertips on these acupoints has the same beneficial effect.

In a tapping session, you would think about speaking in front of an audience to trigger the fear response. Once you are aware of the distress, you would then tap through a series of key acupuncture points. The tapping creates an electrical charge, called piezoelectricity, and sends a calming signal through the nervous system to the amygdala. This down-regulates the fear response, allowing you the ability to assess the likelihood of danger in a more rational way.  As the association between public speaking and pain diminishes, so does the perceived need to go into fight, flight or freeze.  Whether the shift is quick or more gradual, you start to gain the emotional freedom to speak to audiences of whatever size you choose without fear... and maybe even enjoy it.

If you are ready and willing to change your mind about public speaking, let's start. Go ahead and close your eyes, and imagine speaking in front of an audience. Pay attention to what you feel, both physically and emotionally. Notice what feels most distressing, whether it is a physical symptom like a tightness in your throat or shallow breathing, or a frightening thought, such as imagining people walking out of the room with a look of disappointment. Now rate how distressing this thought or feeling is on a scale of 0-10.

Using the fingertips of your index and middle fingers of your dominant hand, start by gently tapping the side of your opposite hand and saying,

"Even though I _________ (feel this tightness... am afraid that I'll make a fool of myself...etc.), I choose to love and accept myself."

Then continue tapping through the points using the picture below, repeating the stated concern (tightness, fear, etc.) on each point.

After tapping the last point, take a deep breath, and again imagine yourself in front of the audience. Check in with how you feel, again rating any discomfort on the scale of 0-10. Chances are good that you will already feel calmer.  For some people it will be a slight reduction in stress... for others, there will be a more profound sense of relief.  You can continue tapping through the points, repeating, "this remaining  (fear, tightness, etc.)."

Don't be surprised if, as you are tapping, you find yourself remembering past events that may have contributed to this fear.  Because the tapping is calming down the fear response, it allows us to be aware of memories that we may not have been able to face. This is a great opportunity to resolve past upsets, and allow yourself greater freedom to be who you choose to be. However, while tapping is a generally safe process, it is recommended that you consult a practitioner before addressing more emotionally charged issues. Please practice good self-care.

If the idea of tapping on your face seems strange and makes you skeptical, you should know that there is a growing body of modern scientific research that validates the efficacy of EFT.  Far beyond simple self-reporting by subjects that they feel calmer, there are biological markers that have been measured showing the reduction in stress, including levels of cortisol - a stress hormone - and fMRI studies showing changes in brain activity.

There are numerous possible benefits to speaking to audiences, both personal and professional.  Thanks to EFT, any fears that might have been holding you back need no longer be a problem.  There is an innate confidence within you... you just need to tap into it.

I hope you will also find this video resource helpful: 

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