Doreen Downing, Ph.D. || Presence: A Key to Essential Speaking

To Be Present is to Be Free of Fear

To be fully present, in the center of the now, is to be free of fear. It is when you think back to an unpleasant memory or when you look ahead at the possibility of being judged by others that the waves of fear begin to move through your body and start to crash upon the shores of your sense of self-confidence. You leave the present moment and enter a moment that belongs to the past or you travel ahead which is a moment that lives in the future.

Past Negative Traumas are in Your Way

The thought of a group of people looking at you, waiting for you to speak can carry all the trauma of a negative experience that actually did occur at some time in your life. Maybe it was in elementary school when your teacher made you stand in front of the class to present a book report and you forgot your words. When you went blank, blushing with shame, the other kids started to laugh at you. Or maybe it was when you were sitting around the dinner table, night after night, with siblings who were more verbal and outgoing or who could command attention in a way that you could not.

Projecting Your Past Into The Future

If there was a real event in the past that caused you to feel the pain of embarrassment or the shame of humiliation, you are likely to project that scenario into the future to all similar or related events. Your fear is based on the thought that you will be repeating the same experience. You see yourself going through it again and you see yourself flooded with the same kind of excruciating emotions. That future moment is based on a past moment. Neither exist in the present moment.

To be present, in the here and now, is the key to speaking without fear.

The commitment you make to staying present allows you to keep returning to the moment. Your anxiety is the signal that you have returned to the past or you have taken yourself to the future. Remember to notice and bring yourself back to the present.

  • Come back to the now
  • Feel the fullness of being present in your body
  • Breathe the air that surrounds you, standing on the ground that is beneath you
  • Relate to the listeners who join you in the now
  • You voice arises from a place that is centered in you
  • You speak without fear

Doreen’s Essential Speaking Tip:

To trace the origins of your fear, sit quietly and imagine yourself standing in front of a group. Let yourself reflect and allow images to come without censoring them. If a picture arises from the past, then note everything that happened. If a picture arises from the future, also note everything that might happen. Ask yourself, “how are these images related?” Now see yourself focused only on the present moment. Let thoughts of the past or the future drift away. Don’t attach to them. Your work is to empty the thoughts and arrive in the present where you can then be here now and you can be heard now. Breathe in, Breathe out.

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