A Powerful Tool to Increase Your Stage Presence!

In a recent online radio interview, the host, attorney Darra Rayndon, asked me, “What is stage fright?”

It’s funny. In all my preparation for this interview, I hadn’t really thought about it that way. I was prepared to talk about the causes, the symptoms and the solutions, but not a definition. I assumed everyone knew what stage fright was.

So, on the spot, here’s what I said:
“Stage fright happens when we essentially give our power away to others to decide if we are okay. If we’re smart enough, credible enough, talented enough, good looking enough — whatever the criteria we have for ourselves, we put the power of whether or not we will be successful into the hands of others.

Of course we’re going to be afraid! We have no control over the opinions of others, no matter how brilliant we are!” (Even if we like to think so!)
I surprised myself with that answer! But, I think it’s true. For whatever reason, we believe that someone’s evaluation of our performance — even a stranger’s — is more important than our own.

Of course, the thoughts that come from that belief are not pretty, and they happen in a split second. If we could isolate them, they might sound like this:

* What if I mess up and someone notices?
* They won’t think I know what I’m doing!
* I might not get that promotion, or that client.
* What if they say something critical about me to others?
* I’ll embarrass myself. I’ll embarrass my boss, coworkers, family . . . Oh no!” (Maybe you can relate.)

It can go on and on.

And these thoughts create all the miserable stage fright symptoms many of us have experienced — sweaty palms, dry mouth, brain freeze, and my personal favorite, shaky left leg.

As a result, we feel incredibly vulnerable, and not the kind of vulnerability that endears us to our audience. The kind that can shut us down and distance us from our audience.

And with that, there goes the stage presence.

I’m not saying there aren’t consequences to our actions and how we show up. But, walking in to any speaking opportunity with all these thoughts going on is not going to support you to be your best. It certainly isn’t going to support you to enjoy yourself!

How do we lose that fear and stay connected? How do we keep and increase our stage presence?

Let me share with you one very powerful tool.

I recently became a board certified practitioner of neurolinguistic programing, or NLP. NLP is a powerful process of working with the mind/body to shift our experiences and create excellence in our lives.

One of the tools I use with my clients is a Belief Change program. In this process, you take a limiting belief and replace it with an empowering belief.

I recently used this technique on myself when I was getting ready to perform my latest song, Caught Between Two Worlds, before an audience for the first time.

Even though I’d appeared before this audience a zillion times, I felt nervous because a) it’s a new song, and b) it used a larger part of my vocal range than I had been using.

Even though I was completely capable, I had this crazy belief that I couldn’t do it in front of an audience — that my voice would fail, and as a result, I would totally embarrass myself, my writing partner and accompaniest, Richard Palalay, the people who hired me, and everyone else! Plus, I’d probably never get invited back. Blah blah blah. Get the picture? This is what the mind does! (Tell me I’m not alone!)

I used the Belief Change program to replace that limiting belief with another — that singing in my higher range was as easy as breathing. Ahhhhhh . . .

How? By replacing the picture in my mind. Instead of the scary picture of me failing in front of an audience, I replaced it with a picture of me breathing easily and comfortably.

This is the power of NLP.

When I performed that song in front of that audience, I felt the ease and comfort of breathing. I won’t say I didn’t have some butterflies. I did. It was still the first time. But my belief was different so I experienced significantly less nervousness and sang in that range just fine. The audience showed their appreciation by standing and clapping and Richard and I were thrilled!

This is an example of how a powerful tool can help you take your power back from fear and increase your stage presence. Can you imagine how this could help you in any number of ways?

This is the kind of work we’ll be doing in my upcoming virtual group program, “From Stage Fright to Stage Free!” starting October 21.

This program is designed for you if . . .
* You know speaking would help you meet your goals, but you don’t even want to try because you’re so nervous.
* You already speak in meetings or on stage, but white-knuckle your way through and have to sleep for three days afterwards!
* You’re pretty good but know you could improve and feel more comfortable.

Sometimes, all you have to do is take the next step and something wonderful can happen.