#7 Listening is the Secret to Speaking without Anxiety

Today's Guest: Lee Glickstein

Today, I interview Lee Glickstein, founder of Speaking Circles International, an organization dedicated to helping people overcome stage fright and be masterful speakers.

Lee suffered from a lifetime of stage fright. It motivated him to develop a radical approach to authentic and effective public speaking. This process of discovery led him to a deep understanding of the principles of natural communication through Relational Presence.

Author of Be Heard Now! Tap into Your Inner Speaker and Communicate with Ease (Broadway Books and Sounds True Audiotapes), Lee is committed to facilitating ease, power and effectiveness for anyone who needs or wants to address groups.

SCI teaches its programs internationally and has trained Facilitators from multiple countries including: The Netherlands, England, Ireland, Kenya, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Watch the episode:

Connect with Lee Glickstein

Transcript of Interview

Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast

Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing

Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com

Episode #7 Lee Glickstein

“Listening is the Secret to Speaking Without Anxiety” 

Dr. Doreen Downing – [00:01]

Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen downing. And this is your Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast series, where I interview people who have some sort of early life experience that in some way stopped them from being more truly who they are, holding themselves back, their voice was unrecognized and not heard in such a way that they didn’t know they had a voice. So somewhere along the line, and this is what we’re looking at today, is people finding their voice. And when they find their voice, there’s so much more what energy a lightness and purpose and effect impact on the world. So today, I have Lee Glickstein, my friend, my mentor, my training partner for over 20 years. And I’d like to interview you, Lee, and have you share with us more about the details of your early life experience, and how you think that really played a part in your feeling like you couldn’t be heard. So thank you for being here and for your willingness to share today.

Lee Glickstein – [01:13]

Thanks for asking me Doreen my pleasure.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [01:16]

So let’s first let’s start there, you had some kind of anxiety, I imagine because you develop the whole program around Speaking Circles International, which is definitely well received in this world as a place to learn how to tap into the voice. But, you didn’t have it in the beginning. What happened?

Lee Glickstein – [01:38]

By the way, I still have anxiety, look at my nails, but I don’t have anxiety around speaking. Well, I had the world’s worst stage fright till I was in my late 40s. And I trace it back to as you say, childhood, I was born the youngest of two children into a house where there was not much listening going on. But that’s how I see it now. You know, I wasn’t seen, I wasn’t really appreciated. And it was not a happy place to find my voice. And anytime I did try to use my voice I could get squelched by a bullying older brother or glared at by a father who didn’t want to be disturbed. So I grew up without having a capacity to speak up. I was bottled up and I just became this very sweet, nice bowl of chubby boy.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [02:34]

I know we’re laughing because it’s a distant memory and you have so far recovered, but it is, it can be painful to to be in a family that doesn’t welcome us, welcome the spirit of who we truly are and doesn’t see us. Doesn’t say Yay, you, and space to be you. And the whole idea about being bullying. I hear that a lot from people. But to have it be right there in in the next room with your brother in the same household bullying you. Oh my gosh.

Lee Glickstein – [03:11]

Well, he would be… we have bunk beds. And he’d be in that. Yeah, the upper bunk and he would do things like saying rhyming words. Every few minutes. I mean, he was there to mess me up. I mean, that was his job. I could laugh about it now because he did a good job. Because it lasted for quite a while that I didn’t have the sense of knowing, of having a voice. That comes down to when you don’t get listened, you don’t have a voice.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [03:41]

Yes, I think there’s something about being received and being heard that makes you feel like Oh, yes, my voice I can feel it. It’s the whole idea. I think of Speaking Circle where somebody is listening and you speak into their listening, which is what you devised.

Lee Glickstein – [04:06]

Yeah, what I had to do when I realized that I needed to work on this, I was in my 40s and I was just not being able to function in the world. I knew I had something to say, and I didn’t know what it was. And I really got stage fright speaking to any person like looking right now into your eyes, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Even on Zoom. So what I needed to do was to create something because I noticed so many other people had this public speaking anxiety… the stage fright is deer in the headlights. And what I needed to do was to ask my listeners to do something… to listen to me. So I created what would become Speaking Circles where I would ask the audience to listen. Everybody just be with me be with the person upfront. with soft, steady gaze of kind regard. That’s what the instruction was. And that the instruction for the person upfront, whether it be for a minute or three minutes or five minutes, is to put your entire priority on noticing the listening. And, you know, I used to think that my block in speaking was that I didn’t know how to speak, I was a blocking, speaking, but it was a blocking of receiving available listening. I began to train audiences to listen in a way that a person like me could tolerate. I didn’t know it was going to be me because it took me five years of helping other people through it before I subjected myself to it, I was that far gone. But the idea being that you get up in front of the room, and all you do is you be with one person at a time into their kind regard their gaze of kind regard. So all you’re getting is a look of, it’s okay, it’s okay. People aren’t going. They’re not responding to the content, we never respond to the content, and discovered that with a one-minute and a three-minute or five-minute turn in this practice, we begin to trust the listening when it’s there. And then ultimately learn how to go into a new audience and allow the listening by being there for it. I’m here and then not everybody kicks in. But if I look at somebody in an audience, and somebody is giving me what looks like a dirty look, I don’t take it seriously. I don’t know. They might be thinking about their own brother, I don’t know. But the point, the point being that I can get the listening, if I stand there and receive it. So public speaking becomes a matter of public listening, which is how I started now.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [07:07]

So that is so different than most any public speaking training programs out there. I’ve been a recipient of it. And it’s what changed my whole relationship to speaking is learning that it’s about generating a listening in the people who are listening to you. But you first have to have a safe place to have listeners who aren’t trying to judge you or, you know, to do something that might be negative. We just have a judgment-free zone and have these what you call Speaking Circles, and stand in there and just be receiving luxurious listening. Full-on undivided positive, appreciative listening. Wow.

Lee Glickstein – [08:01]

Beautifully said, Doreen . Thank you.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [08:04]

Yeah, well, I think it’s magic. And I think that it’s beyond magic. I think if people put in wires on our heads and measured it, we would see that it’s so transformational. So transformational to be turning, speaking around, and having ourselves be not the biggest speaker in the room. But the biggest listener,

Lee Glickstein – [08:29]

The listening leader, you’re leading the listening.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [08:33]

I like that.

Lee Glickstein – [08:34]

I think many of us know there’s not enough good listening in the world.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [08:38]


Lee Glickstein – [08:39]

And that we have to support the listening in order to allow the intelligence to come through other people’s voices.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [08:47]

Yes, well, tell me more just what’s going on currently with you and what you’re offering.

Lee Glickstein – [08:54]

Well, a year ago, I had to figure out how to do this on Zoom. And I thought I was just creating something, you know, for a few months, till we got back to not social distancing. But so it seemed like there would be a way to do it by Zoom, but it required some ingenuity, some innovation and within a few months, we found a way to to create a Speaking Circle on a virtual platform that works just about as well as live. In fact, I’m not sure I want to go back to schlepping my camera equipment around and doing Speaking Circles in businesses and homes when I could stay home and do it internationally at some Speaking Circle with somebody in South Africa and somebody within India and someone in Vermont, and a few of us in California. And we’ve learned how to use the Zoom Room to listen by calling names during that turn. So it’s my turn, and I’m speaking to someone who’s looking at me on the screen. And after 15 or 20 seconds, I say so Doreen and I look at Doreen and Doreen, hears her name, and she looks in the camera. Now I’m speaking to Doreen for 15 or 20 seconds. Just like in an in person circle, we wouldn’t spend more than 15 or 20 seconds with a person. And then I’ll say, so John. And then I look at John on the screen, and John is in the camera looking at the camera. So what I have is a full turn, being with eyes every step of the way. And as we started doing this, we thought, Well, of course, you’re not really looking at the person when you go into the camera.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [10:51]


Lee Glickstein – [10:52]

It was sort of weak, right? But then what we discovered was that you can look into the camera in a diffuse loving way and sense the connection. It’s like imagining you’re on the phone with somebody and people do great therapy on the phone. No problem. They are present, and hear. You’re listening to them on the phone, and they have your eyes. And they’re seeing your eyes. So it’s telephone plus.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [11:24]

Yes. And what I get is that the person who is giving the eyes and looking at the camera lens, there’s a way of dropping down into the sense of them being really present in the moment. That’s, that’s what I hear you saying is even giving your eyes to a lens, even though you aren’t eye to eye with the person, it helps train you to drop down, be present.

Lee Glickstein – [11:52]

Yeah, well, I noticed that when I opened these with little breathing exercises, like go down to the stillness inside and feel your inner spacious spaciousness. And what I notice when I lead this exercise, my voice goes down an octave. And I’m speaking from down here, and the whole, the whole circle, people tend to speak from a deeper place, when they’re being with the camera. Knowing that the people they’re looking at through the camera are getting the advantage of their eyes, it’s very intimate. And in some ways, it’s more intimate than in person circles. Some people have said, because of the screen, the distance that you’re not in the same room, there’s less pressure, there’s less of that, you know, in the flesh, the pressure of people. So you can be more intimate, more present to yourself.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [13:12]

I think what you’re saying when we’re face to face, there might be some wires in our brain that our animal brain. We’re really close. But even as you spoke, I really got and maybe we can say this to the folks who are listening, that when you dropped down, I felt myself also drop down. So that your tone, you talked about listening and leading, it’s like, in the way you’re speaking, it leads people to a deeper sense of who they really are.

Lee Glickstein – [13:47]

Right when you’re speaking from this place, first of all, because I’m going down here another level because we’re talking about it. When I’m speaking from down here, my belly. The words are so much easier coming out. I almost feel the melody of them. You know, this is what magnetism is, you know how it feels good. And I’m clearer because I’m not jumping. I’m not falling over myself trying to get something out like we do in normal conversation often in normal communication. And then yeah, you’re right as people hear this, from the person who’s leading, who’s facilitating, and then other people are going down there. And new people who come usually can’t help but be down here too. Because the whole is in a field of listening, and clarity, and no rushing.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [14:54]

Sounds so beautiful. So how do people find you

Lee Glickstein – [15:01]

Well the email Lee@speakingcircles.com or they go to SpeakingCirclesInternational.com.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [15:08]

SpeakingCirclesInternational.com or Lee@SpeakingCircle.com if they want to find their voice in such a way and learn how to drop down and find the strength, the inner strength to show up fully in any environment, whether it’s a work or relationship, expressing yourself your authentic loving self to somebody, perhaps. So it’s not just public speaking. It’s every moment we’re on a stage called life.

Lee Glickstein – [15:46]

I’m glad you brought that up because of course, it transfers to one on one conversation, it transfers to business. This is how we want to talk in business. So yes, it applies to everything. To all communication in life.

Dr. Doreen Downing – [16:02]

Yeah. Wonderful. Well, I feel refreshed talking to you. Thank you. Thank you, Lee.

Lee Glickstein – [16:09]

Thank you. Thank you, Doreen. Appreciate it.

Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.