There was a time in her life when Sophie thought she would never, ever, be able to do what you see her doing in the photo below. But there she is, giving a lecture in front of a packed audience, a lecture that includes the dreaded 'question time' at the end, and thoroughly enjoying the whole thing.
When she was in her early 20s, Sophie hated public speaking. She was a shy child and a bit naturally introverted, so the idea of being the centre of attention felt terrifying to her. It's not that she had a social phobia. She always felt fine when with her friends or family.
But when it came to public speaking, her self-confidence would plummet. Her heart would be pumping, her mind would go blank and the whole thing would feel like a nightmare.
And this was a major issue for her because she needed to be able to present, to stand up and talk while being in the zone and relaxed.
And as it was turning out, her livelihood depended upon it. She had a young family to support as well, so this was a fear she had to conquer.
And actually, like many of us I guess, she had always admired people who could just get up and be engaging, relaxed and inspirational in front of hundreds of people.
And because she needed to for her career and also because she doesn't like fear to stop her, she became determined to learn how to be supremely confident when talking to any audience, whether to just twenty or a thousand people.
It was around this time that she trained as a coach and started running workshops. It was great fun, she loved the subject material. But even when she was talking about a subject she was hugely passionate about to only about ten or so people, she couldn't lose myself in talking about it. Instead, her brain was acutely aware of the number of eyes on her and how she was all alone in the centre of the room. All she could think about was how she was sure to fumble over words or make a mess of the presentation. And what were they thinking of her?
Her imagination would go into destructive hyperdrive. And she would be very, very relieved indeed when it was all over.
Looking back, one of the hardest parts about being so nervous was that she wasn't communicating her true personality and her passion when I did these workshops.
She was just trying to get through them but she wasn't doing such an amazing subject justice. And when she was on stage back then, she was an automated, robotic sort of figure. She was perhaps a bit monotone, sounding and looking, unfriendly. This wasn't because she was unfriendly, but because she was just so tense.
And looking back, she doubts her business would have grown into a 7-figure international company if she’d continued training while being that stilted and anxious.
Anyway, she pushed on until one day, at the start of a 2-day workshop which only had about twenty people in attendance (that was a big crowd for her back then), she suffered a panic attack. Her heart felt like it was going to burst out of her chest. She had an overwhelming desire to run from the room. She was sweating and could barely talk.
She used a simple self-hypnosis method to calm herself down and pushed through the 2-day workshop. The calmer she got the better she felt, though she can't say she enjoyed the experience.
And when she went home after that fiasco, she knew she had to do something. She had to walk her talk and master this once and for all.
She was at a crossroads. She’d created a career, a job she really enjoyed. These workshops and seminars were fun, they paid well compared to the other awful jobs she had at the time, and she could see the potential career in front of her.
But she knew that to make a success of it, she had to become a really engaging public speaker, not just someone who could get through it.
And this crossroads she found herself in is something many of the people I've worked with have come to. They’ve been promoted to a role which requires they give presentations, or they want to study something like teaching which involves standing up in front of people, or sometimes they’ve been asked to make a best man’s speech, or even a funeral speech.
And they know that to be really successful in this, to do more than just miserably push themselves through it, letting terror ruin it for them, they know they need to feel confident and communicate well.
So here's what Sophie did. She had studied hypnosis and used it as coaching modality, so she used every hypnotic trick in the book. Firstly, she de-traumatized the experience of the panic attack. Then she created a new roadmap for being relaxed, spontaneous, and humorous when presenting.
After this work, she found it's not that she can just about keep calm while presenting. She now finds she can't help but be relaxed, spontaneous and flowing. Even if she wanted to feel nervous during a presentation, she just can’t, thanks to the way hypnosis has lifted that fear forever.
Sophie also watched videos of people who were great public speakers, learning what they did until the patterns of success were ingrained in her mind.
Finally, in addition to all the hypnotic work she did, there were some practical tips that she found incredibly effective, and I'm going to give you the three best here:
1- Don't start talking, KEEP talking
What do I mean? Well ten years ago, I was lucky enough to see a lecture delivered by the groundbreaking psychologist Arthur Deikman. I was impressed, of course, by the content of the presentation. But also by his ease, calm, and spontaneity. I observed him not just DURING his speech but also BEFORE and I noticed something.
He was talking to people near him in relaxed, easy tones, then simply transitioned to talking to all two hundred of them as a continuation of chatting to those people near him. He didn't START talking. He CONTINUED talking in the same way, just with more organized and pre-arranged content. Talking to two hundred people is no different to talking conversationally to one person.
So tip number one is start chatting to people BEFORE you start presenting to the wider audience, and make that simply a continuation of your speech.
It's amazing how this simple practice can help as it cuts out the dreaded “now I've got to start” feeling.
2- Aim to do well, not to simply survive
So many people aim to just “survive” their speech, but I want you to change this aim.
At first, in my early days, I would dread the speech and just aim to get through it and feel thankful I was alive at the end of it, as weird as that might sound.
But when I started observing truly great orators, an ambition arose within me. I wanted to be great at it, not just someone who managed to get through it more or less in one piece!
So make a pledge to yourself that you want to not just manage fear but banish fear and become the best possible public speaker you can be, which will, I promise, be much better than maybe even you can imagine right now.
3- Plan something to do immediately afterwards
When Sophie had a speech or workshop coming up, and she still had nerves about that, this might sound a bit strange but she would sort of forget that life would continue on the other side, AFTER the speech. It was as if the fear was so great she felt like the speech date was an execution date or something. She would forget there would be an evening after the speech, or a social event the following weekend. It's as though in her mind, time stopped after the dreaded event, as if it meant death or something.
So she started to focus on what she would do immediately after the speech, and imagine that and think about that, just BEFORE she gave the speech. It was as if this tricked her brain into no longer feeling that her speech somehow meant death, and everything calmed down a bit.
So plan something to do afterwards, and imagine in detail doing that thing in the future, just before your speech. This can help contextualize the speech as the emotional part of your mind can put it into perspective straight away and calm you right down.
So there are my best three tips and I just know you'll find them helpful. They might even be enough to change everything for you.
But if public speaking anxiety has been a major problem for you, then you might need more powerful help and without working on the emotional, or subconscious level, practical interventions tend to be less effective.
So back to the story. After Sophie started to use hypnosis to keep calm while presenting, and had studied what makes a good speaker, the next time she went to present she was significantly better. She certainly felt a little bit nervous beforehand, but not in an overwhelming way, and those nerves disappeared as she began talking. This time she was able to lose herself in the subject material, and really communicate her passion for it. She realized that the subject material was much more interesting than obsessing over all the potential things that could go wrong. She enjoyed herself and went home feeling absolutely ecstatic.
It was clear the attendees responded well to having a confident speaker able to communicate in a fun way. She ran more of these workshops and got a job as a corporate coach. She travelled around Europe talking to very full lecture halls. Sometimes there would be 500 people in attendance and it would be her job to talk to them for a whole day at a time.
Incredibly, she became so relaxed when speaking in public that she started to think maybe she needed a bit more adrenaline to ramp things up. So she started to hypnotically experience being on a rollercoaster beforehand to take her arousal level up to just the right point. This gave her focus and energy, blended with absolute calm and confidence, to hype her up and put some zing into the presentation.
Another benefit her new public speaking confidence brought her was the ability to work full time for herself. Her early workshops turned into a year long diploma course, which her business partner and her taught at different universities to professionals all over the world.
The weird—and wonderful—thing is once you become a truly confident public speaker, it stays with you for life. I want to help you feel that the stage is your home. That not only can you present in public without dying, but that you can enjoy it.
The ideal you as a public speaker is someone who doesn't use notes, is engaging, relaxed, a great storyteller, humorous, and above all, inspiring.I promise you—public speaking really can be something you, and your future audiences, look forward to. That confident presenter is inside you and hypnotherapy will help that presenter come to the front of the room and take control.
So, if you want to be the public speaker you SHOULD be - relaxed, inspiring, able to enjoy yourself and entertain, but also bring new insights, fun and focus to any audience, feel free to call me at (242) 645-7517, or email me. I will be happy to start building with you this inspiring speaker you so deserve to be!
To your public speaking excellence,