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Afraid of Public Speaking? Read This.

Presenter delivering an effective presentation at a conference.

Many people feel extremely uncomfortable when they are asked to speak in front of a group. Sometimes to the point where it interferes with their career goals and other things they want to do. It's normal to have a little bit of excitement before speaking, if you've experienced this, you're not alone. But if it's become problematic, if it's stopping you from doing the things you want to do, you don't have to put up with it. Changing your mindset will change your experience when speaking. As a result, you'll make a much better connection with people and you'll get much better results. Read on...

A Gallup Poll conducted in 2000 found 40 percent of people said they feared public speaking. And according to that poll, public speaking was the second most common fear, just below a fear of snakes.

But why do so many people fear public speaking? Most of us talk to people every day. What makes public speaking different? Here are a few things I've observed about this.

The Shock of Self Awareness

Public speaking is one of the few times that people become aware of themselves as a separate entity. Most people float along carried by life's currents with a very low degree of self awareness. They melt into whatever group, situation or media stream they're part of. Standing in front of an audience you can suddenly become acutely aware of your own consciousness, physical sensations and motor movements. This in itself can be a shock for many people.

Automatic Protection Mechanisms

Survival programs get activated when our brain senses a threat in the environment. But what threat are we experiencing with public speaking? The imagined, but primal threat of being ostracized from the tribe. In the distant past this could be a matter of life or death. We needed to be part of a tribe in order to survive against predators, enemies and lack of food or other resources. One of these survival programs is the fight or flight response which results in a burst of adrenaline and energy toward the large muscle groups and a temporary slowing down of anything not immediately necessary for physical combat like digestion, logic and reason, or fine motor coordination. This can result in heart racing, sweaty palms, shaky voice or a clumsy brain fog.

Pattern Recognition and Reinforcement

Our brains excel at recognizing patterns. Once an activity has been tagged as a threat by the subconscious, we will experience uncomfortable feelings when we engage in that activity or even think about doing it. This can become a self perpetuating cycle, reinforcing the perception of the imagined threat.

Hypnotherapy Can Get to the Heart of the Problem

The fear of public speaking is rooted in subconscious responses that have become automatic. These responses are very difficult to change with discussion or by logic and reasoning as the reaction happens instinctively and automatically before you can think about it.

But in hypnosis, we can use modes of communication (emotion, symbols, a sense of involuntary movement, metaphor) understood by the part of you running the unwanted response. We're able to dissipate the negative response and redirect your experience so that you can feel normal excitement and high energy when you speak to a group, free from unnecessary and unhealthy fear and anxiety.

Research Backs This Up

A wide body of research has established that hypnosis is a powerful tool for overcoming anxiety. Hypnosis is being used by medical facilities like The Mayo Clinic as a complementary treatment for anxiety-related disorders, i.e. like fear of public speaking, social anxiety and fear of flying.

Gary Schwantes, CCH, CHt, MFA, Clinical Hypnotherapist




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