It’s not uncommon for clients to come in with a fer of public speaking. Psychologists refer to this condition as glossophobia. This also covers stage fright, which is hugely common amongst performers. Sometimes as this fear progresses it can extend to other ‘events’ where the person is being watched, such as with signing documents, (which may also have a label, but if it does, I don’t know it ;)) It can also spill over into communicating with a group socially, and so a person with a fear of public speaking may also suffer social anxiety. However, we will stick to the topic of public speaking for the purposes of this post.
What is Fear of Public Speaking Really About?
Fear of public speaking is usually about a fear of judgement. That of course can extend to feelings of being not good enough, which is more general, but fear of judgement is more of a comment on having ones’ performance assessed. This of course becomes a confidence issue, because confidence is all about proving yourself to the outside world, as opposed to self-esteem, which is more about how worthy you believe you are as a person. But let’s drop the technicalities.
Fear of public speaking can really cripple a person, especially if their job requires it. Quite often the feeling of nervousness will overcome the person, unexpectedly, even if they feel otherwise confident about what they have to say.
Cameron’s Fear of Public Speaking
Cameron was a confident guy, working with young people in a training role. He knew his stuff. A year ago he began getting a sense of uncontrollable nerves before he was due to speak to the group, and during. While he was well prepared and somewhat of an expert, these nerves grew more and more powerful. he came in for help.
We regressed the sensation of fear of judgement back to Cameron’s childhood, where he was asked to perform a song and dance in front of his extended family. It was an unexpected request and he was put on the spot. This was the first time he experienced the fear of judgement. Later on in Cameron’s teenage years, he also began to experience social anxiety.
When I asked Cameron about his confidence levels back then, he rated himself quite high, so he didn’t understand how his unconscious mind could have a different opinion, so to speak. But that’s the thing about the unconscious mind, if you are not in communication with it, it tends to go rouge and create issues. Cameron’s unconscious mind was trying to protect him with this fear of judgement, to save him from ever having to be put on the spot again.
Of course the unconscious mind was acting instinctively and not rationally, without concern for Cameron’s career choices or his social life. It simply wanted to keep Cameron safe. So we needed to set up some communication so that Cameron’s unconscious could understand that the way it went about things was not working. We gave Cameron alternative behaviours he could do in order to keep feeling safe, instead of doing the fear response.
During the regression we convinced the unconscious mind that Cameron actually handled things well, back then as a little kid doing his song and dance, so that it could drop the defence. Another technique I used with Cameron was to have him step into the body and mind of someone he knew who he considered to be a good public speaker. he was very reluctant at first because he actually didn’t like the person, but I explained that it did not matter, at all. It is all about what we can learn from others, seeing them as resources rather than people we need to like. Cameron found this technique especially useful and the wisdom which came out of his mouth during the technique was unexpected to him.
We did a host of techniques over three sessions to change Cameron’s response to the public speaking, and by session three, he had presented twice to his group at work, without even thinking about it, let alone worrying.
If you need help with public speaking social anxiety or any other fear of judgement or confidence issues, get in touch. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast