The two biggest fears in life shared by most of humanity are fear of public speaking and fear of death. And yet, for most professionals, much can be gained by conquering fear of public speaking.
Whatever industry you find yourself in, no matter what your level of experience, if you can deliver an effective presentation, in a state of relaxed calm and confidence, the benefits will exceed professional success. You'll experience a strong sense of personal power, and most importantly, you'll have fun doing it rather than fear it as much as death (or more).
I'll be honest. For most of my professional career, I've done a fair amount of public speaking. And it hasn't always been smooth sailing, believe me. In fact, on more than one occasion, I experienced so much stage anxiety that my throat actually closed and I couldn't do more than make a peep at certain moments.
I discovered that in several of those harrowing moments, I was experiencing inner turmoil - feeling as if the words I was saying and the context I found myself in - were completely out of synch. I wasn't present in my integrity. Pieces of me were out of harmony and in conflict. And my body reacted by preventing me from speaking words that weren't true for my own essence.
During these occasions, I recovered by focusing on my breath, and taking a few sips of water to center myself. Still, I didn't forget how important it is - before any public speaking gig - to tap into my inner strength, make sure my message and intention are all aligned - essentially clear up any blocks ahead of time.
Of course, not all people suffer from a fear of public speaking because they're experiencing the same sort of inner turmoil I was. It may not be the same inner turmoil, but it's still inner turmoil.
Much of the time, it's fear of what could happen, or self-doubt about what one has to offer. It's also common to worry about how to handle a mistake if it happens, or what to do if something unexpected occurs (e.g. a fire alarm or an earthquake).
Hypnotherapy techniques like Skill Rehearsal can make a huge difference. By "reliving" each step of a presentation, exam, or upcoming performance, in a relaxed state, the client teaches their subconscious how to respond, encouraging a positive physical response as well as cultivating a feeling of calm confidence. Essentially, you practice how to feel while executing each step of a performance, presentation, or exam. We can even use mental or physical anchors to help anchor these feelings. Skill Rehearsal can also be used to prepare for an upcoming surgery, so that your body learns how to respond calmly during the operation and release rather than hold on to tension for faster healing and recovery.
The tricky part is that underlying emotional and mental triggers might also be at play. For example, many of us hold false beliefs about our own competence, and this can create performance anxiety. Over time, a pattern of "self-sabotage" behavior may even develop (in the form of nervousness, carelessness, etc) based on this false belief. During a hypnotherapy session, shadow work, using a technique called "Feeding the Demon", helps our clients discover the root cause of these false beliefs, and even engage with these parts of themselves to promote understanding, validation, and healing.
So if you're thinking about doing a CFP (call for papers) for an upcoming conference, don't let your fear hold you back, submit your CFP with confidence. And if you need help tuning up, you're in luck! I'm now offering a three-session Skill Rehearsal program. Sign up today.
I wrote this poem during my Hypnotherapy training certification program at the HCH Institute. It's fun to read out loud, and it offers great tips on knowing what to expect during a hypnotherapy session.
I'll See You On the Other Side
Surrender and release
Give over control
The goal is the path
Not your ego to please
Play with your senses
Give imagination a whirl
Time bends and confuses tenses
Your soul can explore
Divine answers await you
Your Higher Self is your guide
Release expectations and be happy you tried
Ease your chair back and get cozy
Because you're in for a doozy
Or at least a little snoozy
I'll see you on the other side.
These blog articles offer pragmatic tips on how to tune into your own inner wisdom.