Fight or Flight? – A Fear of Public Speaking
Article appeared in Latest 7
“I have a dream,” said Martin Luther King in 1963. And so began one of the most famous speeches in history. A defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement, if a case of nerves had ever come into it, history could have worked out very differently… Then there’s The Oscars’ success story The King’s Speech, telling the very true story of a King who had to overcome his stutter in order to rule his country. Throughout history, public speaking has led to landmark changes, but the delivery of the speech is often the most difficult part, with the biological fight or flight response kicking in because of the stress. In the case of public speaking, the stress may be the thought of standing up in front of a group of strangers. Other times, it may be colleagues or fellow students who you know. Some are fine with small groups of three or four, but an assembly of 200 can be daunting. The body’s response to being faced with this ‘stress’ can be a severe case of nerves – the ‘flight’ response is taking over. There may appear to be no way of overcoming a fear of public speaking. No matter how well prepped you are, if your mouth goes dry and your heart pumps faster and louder in your chest, then getting through the speech is a big obstacle.
So, the boss has asked you to lead a conference for your firm – surely that wasn’t in the job description?! If business meetings, conference calls with the ‘big boss’ abroad, or even interviews, make you extremely nervous then hypnotherapy can help.
“Hypnotherapy can help build confidence so a person can use the resources they have inside them*,” says Jonathan Conway, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. “It can remind people of times when they did present well; that they have the capability to perform well; and they can be calm and in control.”
Jonathan goes on to suggest using the audience as a positive resource and using NLP anchoring techniques so people can easily recall these resources when required*.
NLP – neuro linguistic programming – helps us achieve goals and overcome ‘blocks’ by looking at how we think, feel and behave on certain subjects*. Using NLP can help people excel in areas that previously proved difficult…public speaking included! NLP techniques can be aided by bringing the presentation in closer focus*. “It can be useful to go to the end of the presentation and look back at how well it went and how much control you had over the speech,” Jonathan continues.
“It is important to remember that whatever the title of the presentation, the person is really presenting themselves and so needs to be confident in him/herself. Therefore, it may be necessary to do some work on building their own self confidence.”
So why is public speaking a big deal for some and not for others? This relates to a person’s own self esteem and belief generally. Hypnotherapy can help boost self esteem and give you the confidence you need*. “If a person is suffering a panic attack or feels that they have a phobia from speaking in public, it will be necessary to address this before moving on to building the positive resources for public speaking,” says Jonathan. “One way of doing this is to use the NLP Phobia cure, which helps a person to ‘dissociate’ from feelings of panic and anxiety*.”
It’s time to change the habits of a lifetime and blow them all away at the next conference.
Tips for public speaking
- Breathing slowly and more deeply
- Be familar with the room
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Arrive early – do not rush in at the last minute
- Prepare well – do not try to cover everything. A few topics covered well is better than everything skimmed over