• Fear of Public Speaking

    Fear and anxiety around public speaking and being the centre of attention are surprisingly common in our society. As a therapist I am often asked to assist when a person is to make a speech, give a talk or lecture, and especially when they have received a promotion and the realisation dawns, and anxiety rises, as they realise  that they will have to do presentations on an ongoing basis. I

    Many people relish the opportunity to be the centre of attention, but for others, the prospect of having to stand up and speak is utterly terrifying.

    The anxiety response for such people can be quite strong and physical.  At the date approaches they become more tense.  Sleep can be disturbed. They can become distracted.  They may have bowel issues.

    Many work excessively at ensuring that they know the subject matter inside out and have every possible answer to every possible question pre-prepared. Yet when the time comes and anxiety increases they can become excessively tense, even shaking. The heart begins to pound. Hands  sweat.  They may blush.  When they stand up to speak they often lose the ability to think calmly.  Memory becomes disrupted.

    Despite all the preparation they may be reduced to woodenly struggling through a pre-prepared script.  When asked questions they can freeze and be unable to find answers that they knew perfectly the previous day.  In some circumstances the voice can go, causing great distress and embarrassment.

    For a one-off, such as a best man’s speech or a once only presentation, it may not be such a big deal as once the experience is over the person may never have to do it again.

    However, if there is an ongoing requirement for public speaking or if an otherwise opinionated person continually shies away from expressing his or herself in a group situation, then maybe help is called for.

    From my perspective the client already has the solution to this public speaking anxiety within his or herself.  Almost invariably the root of the anxiety is hidden or blocked in the unconscious (sometimes called subconscious).  The uncomfortable sensations they experience are in reality memories, expressed physically, of unpleasant, usually childhood experiences.  These “physical memories" are triggered when the person approaches an activity similar to the original one.  The conscious or thinking memory of it is usually but not always blocked.

    In reality the person already has the solution to the issue but cannot access it.

    When I work with such people, I tend to use the approaches of Hypnotherapy and Energy Psychology. This accesses their inner wisdom and uses it to guide them to the most appropriate solution.

    Often this takes them to and helps them de-traumatise the original causative event.  When this happens, the energy changes.  People often feel a sense of relief, or lightness. Hypnotherapy can be very effective in speeding up the opening to a much more natural and even joyful attitude to standing up and speaking.

    The solution does not always involve finding a causative event.  Sometimes it is possible to work on simply clearing the sensations or using logic based techniques to clear mental blocks.  In the case of a person having just one-off public speech coming up a simple session of hypnotic suggestion therapy will often suffice to get hm or her past the obstacle.

    However, if the causative event is de-traumatised, then either gradually or quickly the anxiety is likely to disappear permanently.  As the fear declines, the person becomes increasingly comfortable speaking out in public. Eventually it becomes second nature.

    In most cases these causative events would not be considered severe from an external perspective.  They rarely involve violence or physical trauma.  Most often they involve experiences of shame, embarrassment and social undermining which most adults would easily handle, but which a child, with its limited sophistication would experience as overwhelming.

    If you would like some help in this area you are welcome to contact me.  I will be happy to work with you.

    James

  • You can contact James Jameson on 0862835758 or jamesonwicklow@gmail.com. Feel free to spread the word by sharing this article and liking his Facebook page here or on the Facebook panel opposite. Thank you!