Building the confidence to speak in public
We all have our hang-ups, our deep-seated fears, and mine is speaking in public. So when the opportunity arose to try hypnotherapy I jumped at the chance. Jonathan Conway’s ‘Hypnotherapy for Positive Change’ claims to offer help with a wide range of issues like smoking, weight management, stress, anxiety and self-confidence, although he specialises in assisting people with presentations. He explained that usually only two sessions are needed to achieve a result, although addictions like smoking take a while longer.
On my first visit, Conway, who is also a qualified neuro-linguistic programming trainer, asked lots of questions about past occasions where I have needed to express myself in public – some of which I remembered went reasonably well, while others were simply diabolical. Through visualisation exercises I began to let go of the importance of these. We then did some scene-setting and I was asked to play a movie of what had happened during past presentations in my head. I tried to look at it objectively, and then had to replay it very fast to jumble the sequence of events. Everything was recorded and afterwards, I was given a tape of the session to play. I needed some time to go through it uninterrupted, but I managed to listen to it just before going to sleep which was very relaxing.
As with meditation, hypnotherapy increases your self-awareness. During the following week I found my mind flying off at tangents and discovered more about where the root of my anxiety lay. This information was useful for session two, when I found it much easier to slide into a relaxed state and for a while felt like I was floating off somewhere, which I really hadn’t expected to do. With hindsight t was all very logical: I did the work inside my own head. Only by weeding out negative experiences could I make enough space to put in more positive thoughts.
Conway was a very effective facilitator. His voice was extremely soothing, his techniques were spot-on and he gave me some good tips on preparing myself before a presentation. He is also genuinely interested in my progress. Since our meetings I have appeared on radio several times and have found it much more fun to do. As Editor of Kids Out magazine I’ll no doubt have to face a room of people or go on TV before too long, but next time I’ll be looking forward to it.