Performance Anxiety And Public Speaking: Change Your Hypnotic Story

Over the years I have had many people request hypnosis to deal with anxiety when giving presentations, performances, pitches, speeches, even for reciting wedding vows. For some reason, I have had great success in helping people with this issue.

I think that when you understand the mechanism that connects the physical symptoms to the mental aspects of anxiety about presenting or speaking, it changes the experience and empowers you. It is a bit like being taught how a magic trick works. Before you know how it really happens, it seems so unbelievable and impossible to figure out. Then you learn how the trick works and you feel strong and clever and it all makes sense and you can do it yourself.

So how can you master public speaking? Several things to remember:

• Reframe! The symptoms of anxiety and of excitement are physically very similar. Keep that in mind because you can think about the things in your performance that are exciting and consciously chose to interpret the physical reactions that way.

Recognize that heart rate speeding up and changes in breathing, for example, happen when you are excited or inspired, when you are exercising, when you are dancing or watching a fast paced movie. These are natural physical responses that do not necessarily mean there is danger.

When you have fear of public speaking, your mind is interpreting those types of symptoms as danger and therefore as anxiety. Alternatively, you can recognize that your physiological reactions are normal and natural and mean that your body is working properly. You can reassure yourself by saying something like, “Yes, this is an exciting and different experience but I know I am safe. It is inspiring to know that I can do this and I will feel proud once it is accomplished!”

• Remember why you are there. Maybe you care about the job or the subject matter or the people. The group who you are presenting to, even if you are interviewing or pitching, are interested in what you have to say. Focusing on the common values or goals held by you and your audience will put things in perspective. The presentation acts as bridge between you and those listening but the connection and the engagement between you and them is already there.

• Practice in front of a mirror and make eye contact with yourself. Doing so may help you to connect with what you are saying and to your surroundings. Performance anxiety lives in your head. When you connect inner and outer by connecting to your audience, and to yourself, it takes you out of your head.

• When we feel anxious and our minds start spinning, it is helpful to stay focused on the present moment rather than on all of the fears of the worst case scenarios. Focusing on the sensations in your feet or putting your hands on your belly and focusing on the sensations there will help you to stay grounded. This also helps to bring the focus and the energy physically down in your body. This is important because anxiety lives in our heads, breathing gets more shallow, and we “forget” where we are and get carried off to the “what if’s” of imagined embarrassments or other scenarios.

By physically remembering/feeling your hands, legs and feet, and belly, you bring yourself back to the present time and space. It is much easier to tackle the moment you are in than the enormousness of all of those what if’s!

• Take some of the pressure off. Failure and success depend on many factors, not just on your part of the presentation. There are outside factors that you may have limited control over but your desire to do well and your preparation ahead of time count for a lot. Allow yourself to feel courageous and proud that you are facing this down. Keep things in perspective by remembering that you can only do your best at any given time.

You are welcome to download the short, free self-hypnosis recording that I made to help with anxiety from the AUDIOS tab of my website.

Listening to that daily may help!