Going from Petrified to Being Powerful: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
This picture was taken in Tokyo, where I had a wonderful opportunity to speak – it was scary
and I was very nervous…however, it turned out to be a fulfilling, enriching experience
Fear of Public Speaking
To an average person, the fear of public speaking comes before the fear of death! If this isn’t astonishing enough, there are scientific studies to show that 4 out of 10 Americans get literally petrified if they have to make a speech in public.
So, if you fear making a speech in public more than you fear spiders, you are simply not alone. There are also individuals who get nervous, just at the thought of speaking in public.
Now, we all dream of being fearless and powerful speakers. We dream of being confident while we walk on to the stage, being assertive with our speech and presentation, cracking the perfect joke to break the ice, getting the audience hooked with compelling lines, dealing with the most difficult questions with utmost ease and self-assurance, and ultimately receiving the cheers and applause of the entire auditorium.
How this fear affects us and our bodies
However, it seems that our fear takes over the entire situation right from the beginning and makes our reality a thousand times worse than our dream. Therefore, before we dream of giving the perfect speech and receiving all the love and adulation, we need to first address our fear.
The fear of forgetting what to say, fear of drawing blanks, fear of being watched and judged, fear of making eye contact with the audience, fear of being under the spotlight and fear of losing the audience, altogether.
When fear grips us from head to toe, we stumble on the stairs, on our walk to the stage, we sweat profusely and our legs start to shake. Our heartbeat increases as we tremble in fear. We panic, we feel like throwing up and the urge to just run away from the entire situation takes complete hold of us.
The reason we feel extreme fear and experience all these negative emotions is actually seeded in our brains from prehistoric times. Since we all evolved through the same process of evolution, glossophobia or the fear of public speaking is rooted in all of us and is extremely common. Even the most fearless speakers feel the fear –but they deal with it by being less fearful or “fear-less!”
Roots of the fear of public speaking
Let’s look at the roots of our fear.
As humans of prehistoric times, we feared eye contact and perceived them as a threat to our existence. During those times, we all were fearful of making direct eye contact with a predator and getting killed or being eaten alive. Thus with eye contact, came our fight-or-flight response which we feel when there is too much anxiety or stress.
This ancient fear of eye contact and getting killed has been successfully transferred through evolution to the part of our brain called amygdala, which helps us respond to stressful situations of danger. Turns out, this fear in our DNA makes us perceive public speaking, where we have to make contact with the audience or at least there are eyes looking at us directly and constantly, as some form of attack to our existence.
The audience with their eyes on us becomes the predator and the way we feel on stage - nervous, shaken and terrified - are patterns that come from our fight-or-flight responses.
On stage, this fight-or-flight response turns to flight-or-freeze condition. We choose to flee from the situation by quickly delivering the speech in a monotonous tone or going rapidly through the slides of the presentation without paying any attention to whether the audience is paying any attention or not. Or we freeze completely, going blank in our minds and reading the speech in the most artificial of tones.
However, running away from stage fright or freezing on the spot is not a wise option when we have to deliver a presentation in front of everybody in a meeting room. Since the vast majority of career options involve some level of public speaking, attending meetings or giving presentations, literally running from these situations can put our professional lives at stake and can practically lead to consequences like us even losing our job.
Unlike a caveman, who is suddenly exposed to daylight, we cannot run away from situations of public speaking in our professional lives. We have to face it and deal with it in a manner that is free of stress and nervousness.
Some techniques to help with our fear
There are many techniques that we could try on our own to overcome the fear of speaking jitters. We can be thorough with our preparation and material, we can practice our speech standing in front of a mirror, we can record our voice and listen to it later to see where we are faltering, we can give our speech in front of a bunch of our friends and see how it goes or we can work on our breathing and practice and practice extensively.
These are all helpful techniques that can make us better and confident speakers, however, what if our fear still steps in after our rigorous practice with all those techniques?
If our fear comes from an unpleasant experience from the past, like reading a report in class, that didn’t go well at all or when we were being asked to perform on the spot without any prior preparation and we failed to impress the lot, then more than techniques, what we need is to address the fear that is stemming from our past.
How hypnosis helps
Imagine that you are living that unpleasant experience from your past again. Imagine yourself breaking into a sweat, your heart racing, your face turning red and your skin prickling with uncontrollable tension – now imagine yourself just sitting back, relaxing and eradicating all those fears, negative emotions and anxiety completely just by listening.
This is hypnosis in a nutshell achieved through the process of hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a natural solution to the phobia of public speaking that does not involve any medication and is completely non-invasive as a process.
Through hypnosis, our personal fears and anxieties are addressed at their very roots. The traumas or the stresses that live in our unconscious mind, like the fear of saying something stupid or not being presentable at all – all these preconceived notions from the past hinder us to stay in the present situation of delivering a speech. As our past experiences start to creep in more and more, our subconscious tells us it’s better to quit than continue.
This is because we all fear being a laughing stock or being excluded from our groups. Hypnosis works with all these basic forms of anxieties that we all have in ourselves.
The feeling of embarrassment or being ridiculed, which probably has happened to us, in our childhood but the impression of that experience is still strong in our unconscious mind and whenever a similar kind of situation arises, we feel comfortable going back in our shells rather than coming out and being a subject of public mockery.
Hypnosis addresses these issues directly so that our past traumas can’t influence our present. To go one better, hypnosis even trains our mind to amplify excitement rather than nervousness in the situations of public speaking.
If you felt tongue-tied before while giving a speech, with hypnosis, you will naturally feel more self-assured with every word you speak. You will be able to deliver your presentation in a much robust way and also be more confident about projecting your voice in the right pitch. Most importantly, you will enjoy being the centre of attention and being heard by many people in an appreciative way.
Your confidence will rise and you will be free of self-doubts so that, more than yourself, you can be more focused and attentive towards your audience – an essential requirement of being a powerful speaker.
Once the dilemmas of your mind are taken care of, you can conquer the panic of public speaking. Through hypnosis, all layers of self-doubt, public embarrassment, childhood trauma or misinformation can be peeled off gently and naturally and all you will be left with, is a mind which is free of fear and clutter from the past.
When we are devoid of any anxieties within us, we start to think dynamically which then translates to our actions and speaking. All that hypnosis does, is facilitate this process by giving our minds a safe and relaxing environment.
The best way to master the art of being a powerful speaker is, to get rid of all our anxieties and negative thoughts and let our minds be calm and clear. What better place to start? Hypnosis offers our minds a sense of fulfillment.
When we will feel fulfilled from within, we will have something to give and when we speak confidently, we give a lot to our listeners.
If you or a loved one would love to become a confident speaker, but you don’t know where to start, Book a HOW TO LEAD A FULLER AND LIGHTER LIFE STRATEGY SESSION so we can get you moving in the right direction. Just click on my calendar LINK and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!
Sainoor Premji B.Sc, M.Sc (Holistic Nutrition), RNCP, MHt, Master Hypnotist, Akashic Reader, Holistic Nutritionist, Montessori School Teacher.
An expert in mind-body-spirit connection, Sainoor has travelled widely on her journey through life- the feedback she received most often from her clients is how wonderful it feels to be free of fear, doubts, and yo-yo dieting; how they now live their lives with hope and lightness.
“Thank you for the wisdom and guidance. Sometimes we need words from a stranger to show us what we didn’t want to see ourselves.”- T.C.
“This was a life-changing session. I feel a sense of calm I have never felt before! Thank you for helping me to release the demon of fear!”- E.A.