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Are You Scared of Public Speaking?

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 19-03-2014

 Or do you suffer from Social Phobia? If so, read on...

Recently I have more and more clients who require help with their fear of public speaking.  Whether it be giving a presentation as part of a job interview, standing up in front of their whole company to feedback company stats or even having to give a best man speech at a wedding.  No matter what the situation, the fear, and panic can be the same.

In the last month, I have helped 8 people overcome their phobia with a 100% success rate.  In fact, not only did all 8 out-perform their wildest expectations, they actually told me that when it came to the crunch, they were excited and enjoyed doing it!

So what causes us to develop these types of phobias?  I’m always interested in finding out how these issues develop – as I’ve already said in previous posts, the only fears we are actually born with are loud noises and falling.  When I start a session with a client, I like to delve a little to find out where the fear potential started, not that it’s necessary to know to be able to help my clients, but I find it helps them to understand why they behave the way they do.  Once they can see where the fear stems from, it usually helps their subconscious mind to realise how unhelpful the emotion is and gives me the leverage I need to help facilitate the change.

Fear of public speaking is a learned behaviour – something happened to us in the past (usually when we were young) and our brain made a link between whatever was going on around us and fear.  To protect us from perceived ‘pain’ (see Pleasure Vs Pain) our body will do anything to avoid the pain and so we often go into full ‘flight or fight’ mode, making us feel panicked and stressed.  In one extreme case, a client actually fainted just before she was about to give a major presentation to her colleagues.  That was a sure fire way for his mind to protect him from the perceived threat and therefore avoiding pain.

While that example is extreme, our self-protection modes (which might have served us well at some point in our lives) are quite often unhelpful as we get older.  In the example above my client received far more pain from the embarrassment of fainting than he would ever have done had he just done the presentation!

Our fear of public speaking comes from many places, often it’s not actually the fear of speaking in public but the fear of being judged by others.  Many of my clients can trace the start of their issues back to the dreaded ‘reading out loud’ sessions that were conducted during English classes in school and the fear of being judged by their fellow students.  For others it can be general low self-esteem or simple transference from parents who are also uncomfortable in social or public environments – they saw how their parents reacted and unconsciously copied it.

In my role as the coach, I help clients change any unhelpful ‘movies’ they may be running of previous incidences (e.g. when public speaking hasn’t perhaps gone quite as well as they might have hoped).  I do this by using various techniques designed to remove the ‘panic/fear/stress’ emotions and provide them with confidence building exercises to practise following our session to reinforce the new behaviour.

Once the fear of public speaking has been cleared, it can open up a whole new world of possibilities.  One client was really excited that she was now able to explore an entirely new side to her business.  She had often been asked to train others on a range of products and services that she provides, but always felt that she couldn’t do it because of her fear of speaking in front of others. Her business has now taken off in a whole new direction and she is loving being able to help others while boosting her profits.

If you have a social phobia or fear of speaking in public, what would removing that old programming do for you?  Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation on how we may be able to help you.

JO's FIRST BOOK: Thoughts Become Things

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