How to take the fear out of public speaking

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A client recently came to me with a fear of public speaking. So, first, I asked her to mentally place herself in that situation and tell me what she was experiencing.

She reported that the audience seemed comprised of people who had “giant eyes”. She shuddered and told me that she could feel all those eyes “on her”. Well, that would frighten the life out of me as well.

Unfortunately, fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias. So, what did I do?

First, I gave her some tips that will work for you as well. I suggested that she elicit the uncomfortable feelings and then just sit with them, being mindful of them. Notice where in your body you have them, whether they move, or stay still, and what qualities they seem to have.

Most of all, just accept these fearful sensations as valid internal experiences, rather than try to run from them, or avoid them.

To be honest, I’m usually quite nervous before I stand in front of a room and begin teaching, but the nerves don’t bother me.

Most successful public speakers that I’ve asked about this have confirmed that they also have a build-up of nervous excitement before they start, but that they just accept this as normal.

After explaining all this, I instructed my client to continue to be aware of all those eyes, but to bring her attention to the peripheries of the imaginary room: to the light fixtures, the flooring and the walls. This definitely helped and when she opened her eyes she confirmed that she felt better.

I then had her re-close her eyes, expand her focus again and, this time, mentally float out of her body and into the members of the audience observing her. Notice what the audience were thinking and feeling. The shift was dramatic and this client then left looking forward to the next presentation she had to give.

If you have trouble with public speaking, try this pattern. I’ve also recorded a free MP3, guiding you through this process in more detail for anyone who wants it.

  • Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at or at Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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