Hypnosis for Public Speaking: Does it Really Work?
Does the thought of public speaking terrify you? Whether it's a professional presentation or a celebratory lunch, when speaking in front of people, an uncontrollable feeling of dread might take over you.
We all get a little nervous when presenting ourselves in front of a crowd, and it's something even the most outgoing people cannot escape.
However, some people feel completely debilitated in front of a crowd. They shake uncontrollably, freeze completely, cry, throw up, and even faint. These reactions allude to a deep sense of anxiety, and that's where hypnotherapy comes in.
Hypnotherapy is highly effective in reducing stress and anxiety, especially before surgery or other medical treatments. It can also help with pain control, overeating, insomnia, and side effects of radiation treatments.
Therefore, you can also use hypnosis for public speaking to improve your confidence and reduce stage fright.
What Makes Public Speaking So Difficult?
The fear of public speaking occasionally affects up to 73% of people. Public speaking is difficult because you face both internal and external pressures when you do it. When we speak to an audience, we are explicitly making ourselves vulnerable to judgment, which is unsettling for anyone.
The fear of public speaking encompasses a few things. You worry about how you may look to others, make a mistake that people will remember, and face harsh judgment from the audience. You may also attach your self-worth to how you speak publicly, which in no way encourages you to relax.
Because of all these factors, our bodies physically go into standby fight-or-flight mode. This leads to sweating, dizziness, dry mouth, panic, and a general feeling of dread.
Those with a severe fear of public speaking may suffer from anxiety disorders, but this is not true for everyone. You can still face crippling anxiety when you're about to address a crowd without having an anxiety disorder.
What Is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, is a practice where you induce a trance-like state to access your subconscious mind.
In this state, your focus is heightened, and you're more susceptible to suggestions. A trained therapist usually performs hypnosis in a safe and controlled environment.
Phobias, like the fear of public speaking, are not something you can treat consciously. That’s because fear automatically triggers various physical symptoms, such as sweating, trembling, etc. Thus, you have absolutely no conscious control over these symptoms.
Hypnosis works with your unconscious mind to identify the true source of your anxiety. It may come from a misinformed interpretation of an experience that does not let you speak in public.
For example, you may have mispronounced a word once; immediately after that, someone in the audience may have coughed. You would have subconsciously interpreted that cough as someone making fun of you, thus creating your fear of public speaking.
Hypnotherapy will help you identify this past trigger, and through suggestion techniques, you'll be able to reframe that misinformed experience.
How Can Hypnosis Help With Public Speaking?
Fearing public speaking is something you learn (from experience); therefore, it is also something you can unlearn.
Hypnotherapy helps to change the meanings of those early experiences that have embedded the fear of public speaking in you.
The good news is you don't always need to be unconscious to help your fear. There are techniques you can use to change how you feel when you're about to speak in public to feel more confident.
How Does a Hypnotherapy Session Work?
You must start by booking a session with a reliable hypnotherapist to guide the hypnosis. Before your first session, your hypnotherapist will need to know a few things about your fears.
Before the Session
Your hypnotherapist will most likely send you a short questionnaire to fill out first.
Examples of the questions could be; 'When did your fear of public speaking start?' and 'What do you believe will happen when you speak in public?' The questions are supposed to get you thinking about why public speaking is such a serious issue for you.
If you take the questionnaire seriously, you may be able to identify the experience that made you fear public speaking in the first place. This will also give your hypnotherapist a good idea of where to start.
During the Session
Your session should be in a comfortable room with calm lighting, soft colors, and a favorable temperature to keep you calm.
Usually, the first part of the session is about your beliefs. This means what you believe has happened or might happen if you speak in front of a crowd. Once that's clear, your therapist can start working on them as needed.
During the actual hypnosis part, you will feel incredibly relaxed. Your mind will be highly alert while your eyes are closed, and all you have to do is listen to your therapist. Because your body will feel quite heavy, the hypnotic experience can feel like a lucid dream.
Once in your relaxed state, your hypnotherapist will speak to you in a level tone, accessing your unconscious mind. The goal here is to find the situation that triggered your intense fear of public speaking.
When you've both discovered the root cause together, your hypnotherapist can begin guiding you out of that fear. Your hypnotherapist will use suggestive language that is attractive to your unconscious mind.
The goal is to replace those negative feelings toward public speaking with positivity and calmness.
After the Session
A good hypnotherapist will help you unlearn and rewire the negative pathways in your brain that caused you to fear public speaking.
They will also equip you with healthy and effective coping strategies you can apply later when needed. These methods include relaxation techniques, self-hypnosis, and visualization exercises. These strategies will ensure that the positive effects of your hypnosis will remain long-term.
Coping Strategies to Use After Hypnosis for Public Speaking
Practice Your Speech
This may seem blatantly obvious. However, it's important to help solidify your newfound positive feelings towards public speaking.
Feeling well-prepared is the foundation of feeling confident. Your mind can be more at peace when you know what to say next and don't have to wing it.
Relaxation and Breathing Techniques
Deep breathing is a basic but powerful way to help ease anxiety. Intentional calming breaths can calm physical and psychological stress and build a sense of control.
Remember, it's not only a prior speech practice but also ensure to take breathing breaks in between your speech to stay grounded.
Positive Visualization Techniques
Visualization techniques can take a bit of practice. To help ease your public speaking fears, you can practice visualizing yourself giving your speech perfectly. This also includes visualizing a positive outcome to dispel fears that people will hold it against you if you make a mistake.
Research does show that positive visualization helps to improve overall speech performance and reduce the anxiety related to public speaking.
Visualization works hand-in-hand with self-hypnosis. Your therapist can teach you a simple technique where you can positively visualize your "happy place" in a self-induced state of hypnosis.
The key is to make your visualization as detailed as possible. Once you reach your calm state, you need to reaffirm it by repeating a mantra like, "I am at peace" a few times.
Self-hypnosis isn't really going to work for those who haven't undergone guided hypnosis with a therapist first. So going for a session with a hypnotherapist is key in defeating your public speaking fear.
Conclusion: Is Hypnosis for Public Speaking Worth a Try?
The true fear of public speaking is quite deep-rooted, and it is almost impossible to get rid of it without the right treatment.
Simply trying to picture the crowd naked during your speech isn't going to help you if your fear manifests physically through intense trembling and the inability to speak.
If your fear of public speaking is all-consuming, you should definitely consider effective psychotherapeutic treatments like hypnosis. It's important to only seek treatment from certified professionals to avoid disappointment.
Hypnosis is quite effective in overcoming the fear of public speaking because it catches the anxiety at its source. This is one of the only cases where fighting fire with fire actually works!
Many people have used hypnotherapy to treat a multitude of fears and traumas, showing that it is something worth trying. Your mind is very powerful, and through hypnosis, you can harness more control over it and thus better deal with your fears.