Using Tapping to Overcome Public Speaking Fears and Present with Confidence

Note from Steve Wells: This article outlines how I used EFT to help a CEO to overcome his fear of public speaking and present with confidence. It was originally written for EFT Creator Gary Craig‘s EFT Newsletter and includes his comments below. When this was written we were just developing SET, hence the reference to continual tapping. In the article I talk about 3 main levels to work on with Energy Techniques such as EFT. We’ve since developed SET as a simpler, more user-friendly tapping approach and I’ve evolved a more expansive model of 4 levels for positive change which you can see in the short videos here

Original note from Gary Craig: Spend some time with this excellent article by Steve Wells from Australia. Most people use EFT to eliminate negative barriers but very few use it to guide positive change and make dreams come true. Steve gives a first class example of how to do this with a client who had initially come to Steve with a public speaking fear. It is one thing to get rid of the fear but it is quite another to turn that client into an enthusiastic public speaker. Both can be done with skillful uses of EFT.

Hugs, Gary


Using EFT for Positive Change

By Steve Wells

USA Connecticut workshop presentationAs I see it, there are 3 main levels we can work on with energy methods such as EFT. The first, or primary level of using these techniques is the remedial level. This is where we use EFT to clear out problems, fix phobias, overcome past traumas, and create shifts on the emotional problems that we face. The remedial level is where most people who are working with clients will start, since clients come to us in pain and wanting a shift in their emotional problems. It is also the level where many people who are hurting will seek help, and where a self-helper will focus their attention. Unfortunately, for many people this is as far as they will go with these energy treatments. And that’s a shame. There is much much more that can be achieved. In my opinion the best uses of these techniques will be found when we move beyond the remedial level to the preventative level, and then beyond this to the generative level. I’ll illustrate what I mean by discussing a client I worked with recently.

I recently worked with a CEO who was suffering a public speaking fear. As he had been promoted to CEO the fear, which had been with him as a niggling problem for many years, rose up to an unmanageable level and ultimately he sought treatment. We first began by applying EFT to the fear, aiming to identify all the aspects – places and times and memories where the fear was a problem. We also identified other emotions associated with the fear, such as his anger at himself for having this problem, and related belief systems such as his perfectionistic striving – and applied EFT to these. I taught him how to use continual tapping and imaginary tapping for “first aid” whenever the feelings arose, and for homework between sessions.

In the second session, we continued treating aspects, which for this gentleman included more work on those mentioned above as well as:

– Off the cuff speaking situations where he was expected to speak when put on the spot

– Speaking to large groups

– Speaking situations when there were officials and people of high status present.

We also searched for and treated past specific events involving presentations where the problem had arisen and where he had been embarrassed by this problem.

Work at this level is rewarding and the person – as did this man – often finds that results are quite quickly achieved and their general anxiety level subsides and confidence improves. As it was, improvements occurred in the first session, and were built on in the second session. He started to report that the panic and anxiety was arising less often and if it did the anxiety level was much less intense. Plus he was able to use EFT as “first aid” whenever this happened in order to bring his anxiety level down still more.

Along with this “remedial level” work with EFT on clearing aspects, I encouraged this gentleman to think about upcoming speaking events and to apply EFT whilst thinking about them. This is what I consider the preventative or secondary level of applying EFT. We anticipated troublesome situations and even considered his worst fears (being put on the spot and not being able to speak) and applied EFT to those. He began to feel a sense of excitement and “I can do this” confidence when thinking about these upcoming events – as well as seeing his previously negative thoughts as “irrelevant and stupid”.

The remedial and the preventative level are excellent levels to work on and powerful results can be gained however I believe our work is incomplete if we do not also consider the next level beyond this, which is the creative, generative level. This is where the person considers alternative possible futures that they might be able to create. It is where we start to use our powers of intention to manifest the performances and achievements that we want. Visualising things going the way you want them to – the ideal – and associating to those images so that you can feel how that will feel, all the while tapping away on the points.

Of course, whenever you set a goal or form an intention to do something differently to how you would have done it in the past, your problems and limitations will rise up, with their attendant objections. These are what Gary Craig calls “Tail Enders”. They could be saying to you, “Here is what is supposed to happen in those sorts of situations (i.e. failure!)”, and along with such thoughts come the attendant images of failure and the associated feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, disgust…

In the case of the CEO I asked him how many times he had imagined and practiced doing well in speaking situations. The answer of course was pretty near zero, since all his thoughts and feelings were of failure and dread, and negative “what if” scenarios. In essence, he was practicing and reinforcing failure. While remedial application of EFT had interrupted that pattern, it was now time so use his intention to create an alternative future, one where he presented with confidence and power.

I asked him about situations he’d like to present well in and the first thing he mentioned was the office Christmas party. This is a typically stressful situation for many senior managers and CEO’s because often many people are involved, including the organisation’s entire heirarchy of senior officers, and the expectation is on them to do an appropriate speech to the troops. That and the fact that this guy was fresh from a “wooden” performance at last year’s Christmas party. 

After some tapping to clear those negative feelings, I asked him how he would like to present at the next Christmas party if things could be ideal. He replied that he would love to be able to use humour, to be able to reach the people in the group and have them smiling and involved in his presentation. I asked him to create this image in his mind, first dissociated like looking at himself on the screen, then in the picture looking out from his own eyes, all the while tapping whilst holding the intention to associate with the feeling of really being there.

His demeanour changed fairly quickly from anxious and deflated to surprised and excited – and a smile broke out on his face. He was surprised to realise that he could not only create the image but also feel positive about speaking situations such as this, with a feeling of looking forward to the opportunity and the possibility of success.

This process of tapping while holding in mind the intention to connect with the success image and emotion I call Connecting With Success. I believe what happens is that, rather than “install” positive feelings, the tapping removes the barriers to being able to connect, settling down the negative thoughts and feelings that are “tuned in” by our previous conditioning around these issues.

While a little more work may be required by this gentleman in order to fully clear the negative aspects and beliefs that are preventing him from achieving his goal, he now knows that he can not only change the feelings about speaking as in reducing the fear, but also that it is possible for him to feel positive anticipation, even excitement over the possibility of real success in the future, and that creating that success in his mind-body is the way to get there.

By working in this way he is starting to build a belief in a positive future possibility. (I need to point out here that this gentleman had tried in the past to engage in creative visualisation but had never been able to succeed because – as he put it – it was as if he was trying to “stuff” the positive image in over the negative image and feelings. With tapping, since we had also done the remedial and preventative tapping work, the opposing feelings had been settled down, the continued tapping whilst holding the positive intention settled down those that remained, and the connection was able to be made).

The key to the Connecting with Success approach is in maintaining your intention to connect, and really feel, the success feelings whilst tapping continually. Just one moment of true connection with those feelings is in my experience superior to hundreds of repetitions of visualisation or affirmations without the feeling.

I recommend to my clients that – at least initially – regular tapping sessions of the generative, creative kind be employed separate from their remedial tapping sessions. Do not kid yourself that remedial tapping will not be required, just ensure that you spend time on manifestation and intention as well as on remediation.

I do believe that all 3 levels of tapping may ultimately be required for best results, and that working through the remedial, to the preventative, to the generative level is the best way to go. A rush to the generative level could result not only in lack of validation and rapport, and could also push the problem parts back underground. The analogy I like is that if a client is stuck in quicksand they’re not interested in scaling the heights, they just want to get back on solid ground. This is where the remedial work which EFT comes into its own.

Once out of the quicksand people can start to think about getting out of the forest, maybe notice some higher ground and move towards this, and once in that vantage point establish a destination. At that point, preventative and generative work is the way to go.

The balance of remedial, preventative and generative tapping provides – in my experience – the best overall results, and I commend it to you.

Best wishes,

Steve Wells