« 16. Help for presentation anxiety using simple energy techniques 

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She is the author of "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking" and is one of only 800 people in the world with the highest level of accreditation in the professional speaking industry - CSP - Certified Speaking Professional.

Tap gently on a series of acupressure pointsThe ability to manage your emotions is fundamental to emotional intelligence. In addition to this the ability to be able to perform or function effectively despite the presence of very strong emotions is also a high level of emotional intelligence.

One of the strongest and most overwhelming emotions that many of us may experience in the workplace is presentation anxiety. Presentation anxiety can be crippling and make us feel dreadful. However, all is not lost.

I have found several techniques that can help to reduce or overcome the fear of public speaking and the anxiety associated with it. One of these is called Simple Energy Techniques or SET,  which I sometimes refer to as Simple Energy Tapping.

Simple Energy Techniques involve tapping on acupressure points. Tapping can shift the feelings in the body associated with presentation anxiety and stage fright. I have personally used it and found it invaluable. I have it in my personal emotional intelligence skill kit.

I have also seen clients reduce an overwhelming fear of public speaking in a matter of 30 minutes by using  simple energy techniques. I also use it regularly with my clients  to help them overcome the fear public speaking, and to help reduce anxiety about job interviews. In fact I rate it is a very important technique in helping people manage their emotions and develop their emotional intelligence.

it was a technique developed by Steve Wells,  who is on the faculty of Art Institute,  and his colleague Dr David Lake,  and was based on the original work of Gary Craig who developed EF T or the emotional Freedom technique.

Here are five steps in using tapping to reduce presentation anxiety:

1. Think about what is making you anxious.

While you tap on the points think about the situation or thought that is making you anxious. If thinking about presenting is what makes you anxious then that's what you think about.

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2. Rate your anxiety level.

Before you start tapping rate the anxiety level you feel from 1 (low) – 10 (high).

3. How and where to tap.

Use two fingers. Tap hard enough so that you can feel it but not hard enough to hurt. I personally start tapping on the very top of my head but some people feel too silly to do this, so you might prefer to start with the eyebrow.

Here is a tapping sequence that can be used to help you reduce your presentation anxiety:

  • Side of the eyebrow.
  • Side of the eye.
  • Under the eye.
  • Under the nose in the midline.
  • On the chin in the midline.
  • Under the collarbone.
  • Under the arm at the side of the chest.
  • On the side of the thumb, level with the base of the nail.
  • On the side of each finger, level with the base of the nail.
  • On the side of the hand, commonly called the "Karate chop".
  • On the wrist both top and bottom.

See the diagram and our video for clarification of these points.

4. Re-rate your anxiety level.

Once you have done one or two rounds of tapping, take a breath. Then re-rate the presentation anxiety from 1-10. Pay attention to the feelings in the body, have they changed? In many people they find the number has lowered and the anxiety is not as strong.

5. Keep on tapping on different aspects.

If you haven't yet got your anxiety down to a rating of 0 or 1, keep on tapping on the situation that concerns you until it doesn't stir you up in the body and no longer causes the anxious feelings. 

Tap on all aspects you are worried about. Tap on past experiences. As Steve Wells, the co-founder of SET says, in our video, "Past experiences may be holding up your anxiety problem and when that collapses the whole problem may collapse."

Tap on potential threats and where you learned that was a threat.

Identify your negative thoughts and tap while focusing on those.

Tap on all the situations that this presentation anxiety arises in, e.g. speaking in a meeting, presenting to the Board, reading in church, speaking at a conference, and so on.

Tap on all aspects of presenting that make you anxious e.g. being invited to speak, preparing your speech, waiting to speak, starting the speech, being asked a question, and so on.

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Summary on overcoming anxiety:

How can tapping reduce presentation anxiety? It can seem impossible, can't it? Well the good news is that being cynical about tapping is OK, it can still work!

I was certainly very cynical at first and I'm still surprised at the results. But I can't deny that people can have a profound reduction in presentation anxiety by using SET. I've seen it happen in front of my own eyes.

Seeing a good SET practitioner can help you get the best out of the technique.

If you would like to see an explanation along with a demonstration of the SET tapping points, watch our YouTube video:

How to improve your public speaking now.

Can you afford to have you or your team unable to engage their audiences? No! Organisations need to be represented by engaging speakers in order to get their message across as swiftly and effectively as possible. This applies to you if you are an executive or a manager too - do not bore your employees, your stakeholders or your board. We have a number of options to help you:

  1. Book into our public speaking development package.
  2. There is a definitive guide: "The beginners guide to being a brilliant MC".
  3. Read the book "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking".

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.