Dry mouth, fast heart, sweaty palms, blank mind - yeah I've been there! It's easy to fear public speaking. But I was never just content with overcoming fear. I wanted to be a great speaker. What I needed was a way of calming down and applying simple techniques and strategies to talk like a pro.
When I'd learned to relax (more of that later) I learned and applied the following four steps.
How do you become confident enough to apply the four steps?
Here's some tips some of which are practical some of which are to do with the way you think about your public presentations and also how you can start to change the way you feel about them.
Breath your way to calm. When you breath out you relax that's why people sigh when they're stressed.
Breathing in without breathing out causes hyperventilation and worsens anxiety. Just before your speech take five minutes breathing in to the count of seven and out to the count of eleven (quick count-not seconds!). On the out breath hold it a second before breathing in again. This will produce quick and lasting calm. Remember extending the out breath calms you down.
You have a responsibility as the presenter but relax you don't carry all the responsibility. Presenting is a team effort. Audiences are responsible for politeness, extending their attention and attempting to learn. It's not all you-it's a meeting of two halves. Never mind how they judge you. How do you judge them?
Use metaphor and stories. We all experience life metaphorically. The most technical logical person spends at least two hours a night dreaming! Talk detail if necessary but present patterns with metaphors. Folk from 4 to 104 love stories. Use em.
Captivate attention by using words that evoke all the senses. Describe how things look, sound, feel, smell and taste. Paint pictures and sensations in their minds with your words.
Vary your voice tonality and speed of delivery. Keep them alert and engaged. Convey energy when need be and slow down when you need to 'draw them in close.' You are the conductor to their orchestra. And pepper your talk with humour. Your willingness to be funny shows personal confidence and confidence is contagious.
Tell them what they are going to get. What they are currently getting and then what they have got from you. Sell your sizzle!
Watch and learn from other great speakers until compelling, relaxed speaking is a part of you.
Rehearse positively. You need to rehearse how your going to feel as well as what you are going to present. Don't think about your forthcoming presentation whilst feeling nervous as this creates an instinctive association between fear and presenting. This natural negative self-hypnosis is very common with nervous speakers.
Hypnotically rehearse your speech whilst feeling relaxed. This produces the right 'blueprint' in your mind. In fact when you do this enough times it actually becomes hard to be nervous!
All great speakers know how to use great self-hypnotic rehearsal. Hypnosis changes attitudes and can bring emotion under control. I used hypnosis, to change my instincts around public speaking. Now I just can't get nervous whether it's 50 or 500 people. The world needs great communicators. Go for it!
Cure your fear of public speaking at HypnosisDownloads.com
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com.
The same is true if you want to hypnotize your audience when presenting. First, you need to inspire confidence in them, and to do that you need to be free of anxiety.
And when I talk about hypnotizing your audience, please forget the clichés of watch swinging, cluck-like-a-chicken merchants. I'm talking about the hypnosis of life.
Help your audience leave the room
When you hypnotize someone you get them to "leave the room" as they "travel" along your narrative within their mind.
You achieve this by focusing their attention so intently that your words start to have a real effect on their experience - both conscious and unconscious. A skilled hypnotist can help you change the workings of your immune system or blood flow with their words. Think what effect you could have on an audience you are looking to influence.
So why do I talk about "hypnosis" when describing the effect a great presenter has?
Hypnosis and the art of presenting
Any presenter will agree that you want to be compelling enough to focus your audience on what you are saying. You want them disassociated from their environment and concerns so that they travel with you to other times, places and possibilities. And you want them to adopt, at least for a while, new ways of seeing reality.
Hypnosis in therapy is so powerful because it helps people learn new ways of responding to life so that low confidence, phobias or addictions no longer trip them up. When you present powerfully you focus your audience's attention so narrowly that the nature of their learning becomes hypnotic rather than merely conscious. This kind of learning feels a lot more profound for people. But there are different kinds of audience trances..
Avoiding the boredom trance
If you are uninspiring then your audience may certainly psychologically "leave the room" not by following your ideas but as an attempt to escape your talk. They might start to imagine what they'll do later, what they'll cook for dinner, or their upcoming social arrangements. They are disassociated but not in the way we want them to be. There are specific techniques to compel your audiences in just the right way.
The greatest public presenters will captivate audiences with their words and gestures. They'll use expectation, language, story-telling and "future pacing" which means they'll implant ideas for their listeners to act upon in future. This is all hypnotic. Hypnotic speakers don't just give the facts they will give their listeners an experience that will change the way they feel, think or behave. Hypnotic presenting appeals to the part of the mind that the greatest pieces of poetry or music do. In fact truly world beating public talks have a real rhythm.
The poetry of presenting
The best speeches like the best hypnotic inductions have a kind of trance rhyme to them which draws you in and makes you forget anything other than the speech. Listen to Sir Winston Churchill on YouTube
He uses repetition, emotive words, he paints a picture of a positive future beyond current hard times but he doesn't lie to his listeners by pretending things are going to be easy. He connects what is important to his listeners, he evokes strong images. And like the language of storytelling or even epic myth he talks about avoiding an oncoming "Dark age" by fierce, proud, brave and collective struggle.
In some of Churchill's speeches his language is almost confusing which is a favourite hypnotic technique too as it"ties up the conscious mind" and appeals more directly to the unconscious which absorbs it often before the conscious mind has untangled it : "Never was so much owed by so many to so few." He says when talking about the heavily outnumbered RAF men who fought the famous Battle of Britain. We know what he means without following the logical thread of the statement.
If you want to be more hypnotic to captivate the attention of your audience then you might like to put these following tips into action (which are expanded in the new 10 steps to powerful public speaking course)
Study the effect communication has on people. Just the bits of sound we call "words." It can make them angry, weep, be prepared to go into battle and change their life infinitely for the better. Words don't have to be "just words." Hypnotise your audience to help them feel something real when you speak.
When I was fifteen I was shy. I recall an attractive girl attempting to engage me in conversation. My shyness made me focus on me instead of her. I heard my own voice but not hers and I thought about what I was trying to say instead of what she was trying to say.
The formula for shyness is "too much focus on the self" plus anxiety. To make it even more unpleasant, sometimes when you are feeling shy you experience physical sensations which 'hijack' your calm logical self.
My pulse raced, my mouth dried up and I felt like the village idiot! I couldn't think what to say so I said nothing apart from making barely audible grunting noises! Cary Grant eat your heart out! When I detected pity in her eyes (or was it contempt, or boredom) I mumbled my excuse and got out of there. I hated being shy and was determined to change it.
How shyness is developed and maintained
Shyness really is a combination of social anxiety and social conditioning. To overcome shyness you need to learn to relax socially. This enables you to direct your attention away from yourself and gives you the space to practice certain conversational skills. In most cases, the heightened emotions of socializing when young simply condition the sufferer to respond to social events with fear, instead of excitement and pleasure.
Relaxed socializing is so pleasurable, not to say productive, but it is an advantage denied to many until they learn to relax. To start reducing your own shyness, I want you to absorb the following tips and ideas and start to put them into practice:
1) Think about the way you feel and behave around familiar people you are comfortable and spontaneous around. It's that feeling transferred to new people and situations that equates to your emerging social confidence.
2) Focus your attention away from yourself. Sure, you can think a little bit about how you are coming across, but if all your focus is on your own words and feelings then you might as well be by yourself. Notice what other people are wearing and make a mental note, listen to their conversation, imagine where they might live, make a point of remembering names. Not only does this give you more to talk about, it also 'dilutes' social anxiety leaving you feeling calmer.
3) Ask people open questions. Many people like to talk about themselves and will find you interesting if you find them interesting. Ask questions that require more than a 'yes'/'no' response such as 'What do you like about this place?' rather than: 'Do you like this place?' Once they've answered use 'add-on' questions connected to the first such as: 'What other places do you like in this city.?' Next you can express your views. This is a great way to get the conversation going. If the conversation doesn't 'take' then no matter, you've done your bit.
4) Stop trusting your imagination so much! Have you ever had an imaginary picture in your mind of a holiday destination only to arrive and find the reality is different from the way you had imagined? That's how reliable imagination is. Stop imagining what others think. I do lots of public speaking and I've long since stopped trying to second guess what others think of me - it's just too painful. Besides, what a person thinks about you has a lot more to do with who they are than who you are.
5) Stop using 'all or nothing' thinking. The 'completely this/completely that' style of thought occurs when you are emotional. People who are depressed, angry or anxious see reality in terms of differing extremes, simplistic all or nothing terms. An angry person is 'right' and you are 'wrong'; the depressed person feels like a 'failure' while others are a 'success'. In reality, life is composed of infinite gray areas. So stop fearing that you might say the 'wrong' thing! Or that people will 'hate' you. Once you start to relax more socially you'll notice much less black or white thinking because anxiety actually causes you to think in all or nothing terms.
6) Take your time. You don't have to blurt things out. Ask questions and if questions are asked of you can take time to consider your response (within reason). Don't just blurt out what you think might be the 'right' answer. A slow answer is a relaxed answer.
7) Finally, use hypnotic rehearsal. Hypnosis is the quickest way to change your instinctive/emotional response to any situation. Only think about meeting others when your mind and body is relaxed. This conditions you to associate relaxation with being around new people. In fact you'll find that when you relax deeply enough often enough whilst hypnotically rehearsing being comfortable around others you'll reach the point where you just can't be shy any more! This is what I call a 'happy inability!'
I now love meeting new people and suspect that my current social confidence would be unrecognizable to my fifteen year old self.
Overcome shyness now at HypnosisDownloads.com
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com.