Last month, the 81st Getting Over Stage Fright workshop was held and once again, it turned out to be a very positive and powerful experience for the group members! One main outcome was the powerful healing effect of sharing space with others that can relate, in which it is much easier to be vulnerable.
It is always heartwarming to watch a group of strangers come together and form such close bonds through openly sharing their struggles and vulnerabilities related to this fear. There is something very healing in feeling so deeply understood by others (kindred souls) who share this fear and truly knowing you are not alone.
This group was very open to applying the tools and did not resist the process of shifting the mindset. One of the many things this group practiced that was extremely helpful was learning to “coexist” with their fear and strengthening their ability to bear the discomfort while reducing their emotional response to physical sensations of anxiety. They discovered that accepting their nervous tension helped to ease their “fear of the fear” and the inner struggle of attempting to suppress it and not feel it.
In addition to applying this new way of thinking, they experienced further benefit from receiving honest, reality-based feedback from the group immediately after an exercise. While they felt a high level of anxiety and believed that all their physical sensations were extremely obvious to the group, they learned that just because the sensations feel so strong internally, it does not mean that they are evident to others at all in most cases. They were shocked to hear how anxious others were while speaking or performing. It reinforced the concept that although they felt the fear intensely, it is usually not noticeable to others. It was assumed based on others’ outer appearance that everyone in the room was much calmer and at ease, when in reality, as they shared later, they were feeling anxious. It goes to show that we have no idea how others are feeling inside of themselves.
Another realization the group experienced was that they could actually pause, breathe, and take a moment to gather their thoughts without having to draw attention to it or apologize for it. Even if there was a long pause, or if someone said, “I lost my place” or something similar, the realization that it didn’t come across as anxiety was a big step for many. In fact, the feedback was that it made the speaker look more confident and comfortable to take a moment, and was much more effective to pause rather than to keep speaking as quickly as possible. This was a complete transformation in the group members’ thought process.
This also showed how resilient this group was. Despite experiencing their perceived flaw (whether it be pausing, losing their place for a moment, or showing emotion), they continued right on with where they were in their speaking instead of catastrophizing it. This built more confidence having experienced a “weakness” and learning that it was no big deal and the fear of it happening again in the future significantly diminished.
Feedback from workshop May 2017:
“I am so pleased to have recently attended the “In the Spotlight” workshop led by Marla Genova. It was an amazing and life changing experience. I left the workshop feeling more grounded and self-assured than ever, with an arsenal of tools at my disposal to manage my anxiety related to public speaking. Marla is a compassionate, patient and talented leader. She created a supportive and safe environment which put everyone at ease immediately and made for a very open and productive weekend. I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who experiences anxiety with public speaking or being in the spotlight.”
~ Liz M.
“Thanks so much for the wonderful experience you provided this past weekend at the “In The Spotlight” workshop. I will say that Janet has found a gem in you. You were a fantastic facilitator. Your feedback was insightful and motivating. What I discovered about the workshop is that you get out what you put into it. You were able to gently guide us to the best way to implement all the tools laid out in Janet’s books. The workshop is a one-of-a-kind experience and the fact that you have been involved in the workshop for years makes the transition over to you an easy one. I would recommend this workshop for anyone experiencing the anxiety that can be associated with public speaking. Thanks again for leading a great workshop.” ~ Monica K.
“Marla is an excellent leader and facilitator of the workshop. Within a short time she was able to create an environment where everyone in our group felt comfortable enough to express ourselves and work through our challenges. When I signed up, it felt like a big step to commit to the workshop, but Marla made it an experience I am so glad I attended. I made great progress in my speaking and comfort being in front of a group, and I know I’ll be feeling the benefits for a long time to come.” ~ Bob P.
“Great workshop! Glad I took the workshop. It was a life changer. I learned a number of skills to help me get over my public speaking fear. Marla did a great job facilitating the workshop. Great pace to the class and she gave informative feedback. Very professional and she knows her stuff. I would recommend it to anyone who struggles with stage fright.” ~ Scott T.
“I’d like to start out by saying a heartfelt thank you to both Janet and Marla. I’ve had anxiety about speaking and presenting in front of groups for most of my life. A recent promotion magnified this problem and I knew it was time to do something about it.
I reached out to Marla and explained my story. She wrote back to me and gave me hope and a direction to help me work on my anxiety. I signed up for the next available seminar and made a decision that I wasn’t going to let this continue to be an issue for me.
Marla was very knowledgeable, compassionate and helpful throughout the seminar. It shows that she has dedicated herself in helping people that are dealing with this type of anxiety and fear. She has shared her own personal story of overcoming this fear which gave me hope. And she has obviously spent time working with Janet to take the reins and continue the benefit and helpfulness of the In The Spotlight seminar.
The information and experience that I gained in the seminar has changed my outlook and feelings toward speaking in front of groups. I highly recommend attending if you are tired of letting this anxiety control you.” ~ Kevin P.
“The Getting Over Stage Fright workshop was nothing short of transformational and this was largely due to the
compassion and encouragement that Marla brought to every aspect of the course. Having been a past course participant herself, Marla could relate to many our concerns and suggest critical insights to overcoming them. She is a testament to the truly transformative power of the workshop. Thank you, Marla, for being such an inspiring coach and mentor!” ~ Sally W.
“Your leadership and feedback were very helpful in creating a positive experience for everyone involved and your personality and story were a key piece of the puzzle that helped the group come together. You were a great presence for the whole group and always very encouraging. Usually we see people that want us to present as the enemy but you were able to become one of us while also pushing us to be better. Thanks so much for your help during the workshop…every day takes work, but I am definitely staying more positive within myself. Thank you!” ~ Mike D.
As always, it was amazing to witness the successful transformations in just one weekend. We hope to see you at the next workshop, September 23-24!
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
This column is devoted to sharing stories of success and inspiration with others. If you have a success you would like to share with our newsletter community, please forward a paragraph or two to me, with your first name, last initial (disguised if you feel the need for more anonymity), and job title and field you work in and I will include it in a future newsletter. We can all be inspired by stories of success and victory, and it is a way for all of us to celebrate the courage, commitment, and effort we are putting forth to get beyond the limitations of this fear!
This email is from someone who took the workshop years ago that she shared with the group and agreed to share with our newsletter community:
Hey everybody!! I hope that everyone is doing great and that this past week went well. It doesn’t seem like we were in Connecticut just last weekend! Time flies huh? I am sad I missed the last few people’s final speeches on Sunday- I would have liked to have stayed!! It was so great to meet all of you and I really feel like each one of you enriched my life at that workshop. I feel so fortunate that I was able to go all the way to the Northeast coast, learn so much, and meet so many wonderful, genuine people.
I wanted to tell you all about my experiences once I returned home…on Monday morning while we were rounding, my chief attending physician said, “Jamie, you feel comfortable interviewing this patient in front of all of us right?” And I answered confidently, “Yeah! Sure!” and my heart started racing!!!! (This also happens to be a psychiatry rotation where I used to think that certainly they could tell I was nervous!) Well, I began to tell myself that this is no big deal and didn’t pay much attention to the symptoms. I just went with it and practiced “letting it be” (as Janet tells us!) and just spoke slowly and the symptoms went away.This is definitely a slow learning process, but each time helps to build a little bit of confidence.
Then…on Wednesday I went to Toastmasters and joined. I did a “table topic” where you have impromptu questions- nerve-racking as we all know, but actually quite fun! I plan to do my icebreaker speech soon. I am trying to practice what we learned while it is fresh on my brain!
Then…I found out on Tuesday night that I had to present a 40 minute speech about “club drugs” in front of my classmates and a psychologist on Thursday. I had to blatantly tell myself that it would be fun instead of complaining that I didn’t have enough time. That way of thinking is what used to make me anxious. I gathered as much info as I could and wrote out what I was going to say word for word and practiced several times. I did relaxation CD’s every day and tried not to focus on my feelings. I kept telling myself, I can do this. Well, because these kinds of presentations (medical ones to colleagues) are where I had my first “incident”, I took an Inderal beforehand. I used to think that this medication did no good because I would continue to talk negatively to myself! But with my new tools and internal positive dialogue, the medication helped to just slow my heart rate and I felt very relaxed. I focused on my strengths and knew it was in there somewhere!! The presentation was a wonderful experience!! It went SO well. I left feeling so thankful and HOPEFUL.
I tell you all these stories to hopefully encourage you. I hope it didn’t provoke any anxiety as you were reading them!! I just thought it was kind of funny too that I had to put those tools we learned to work pretty quickly!!! I am still struggling with some doubt though and feel the need to really prepare for things…even wedding toasts, etc that I have soon. I get butterflies thinking about a few more upcoming things, but I am just trying to truck along and stay positive. For the first time, I feel hope and CONFIDENCE (the confidence I lost after struggling with this) and that is encouraging to me.
Have a great week,
Jamie K., Medical Student