Stage Fright

Many instructors experience stage fright when speaking before an audience. This is especially true when they are first starting out. Few are able to make it through their first lesson without stammering, trembling, sweating profusely, breathing heavily, or forgetting material. However, there are simple tricks to alleviate such tension. The easiest way is to go up to people some time before the start of the lesson and answer the students’ questions or ask your own (e.g. "Who has already had an experience? Ma’am, have you ever had an out-of-body experience or lucid dream?"). What’s interesting is that if you are the first person in the room, the members of the audience who trickle in after you will be more nervous than you are.

Other tricks are purely psychological. For example, it helps to decrease the importance of the event. Stage fright is basically due to focusing on the importance of the event and importance of being up to it. Acknowledge your fears and calmly carry on. Also simply be aware that stage fright is a temporary phenomenon. It will only be with you for the first few minutes, and then you will become so engaged in the process that you won’t notice anything else around you. Simply being aware that stage fright works in this way will substantially reduce it. You take it as a given and bravely march on to meet it.

Your "body language" can even come to the rescue. Many masters of the art of rhetoric recommend assuming as open a pose as possible, as this creates a feedback loop that puts you in a more receptive state-of-mind.

Find enjoyment in working with people. They came to see you. They paid money for the opportunity. They want to spend their free time with you. Who’s in charge here? Who’s got control of the situation in his hands? All of the good cards start out in your hand – don’t squander them. Go into the room with that in mind, and mold your protégés into real practitioners, all the while handling the event like you would a car on the road.

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