Even though all of my clients use similar terms to describe their fear of public speaking, everyone is different, and everyone’s experience of this fear is unique to them in many ways. There are numerous techniques that I use with my clients. Which techniques we use to conquer your fear of public speaking will vary according to how you experience your fear, how it formed (if you’re aware of that), and other factors. The techniques at our disposal are described below.
NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). Popularized in the 1980s and 1990s by Anthony Robbins, NLP is the science of how the brain encodes, stores and retrieves information. It is also the study of human excellence. NLP is a broad and deep field, but in this work we commonly use anchoring, an understanding of meta programs, modeling, and techniques that allow you to shift your emotional state “on command” to feel in control.
EMI (Eye Movement Integration). EMI is a powerful cousin to EMDR, and works by using eye accessing points to integrate memories, and thus create proper perspective in the mind on events from the past. Improper perspective (events from the past feeling like they are happening to you now) is the cause of many feelings of anxiety and fear. EMI, while not easy to explain, is very easy to participate in, and involves a series of programmed eye movements while the client attempts to hold onto the feeling that has been targeted for integration. It can seem magical how quickly EMI can reduce a client’s perception of emotional discomfort (also called the “subjective unit of discomfort”).
Transforming Negative Beliefs. Switching from the “fear of judgment channel” to the “came to deliver valuable information” channel is but a part of the belief change that will help you to stop being fearful. Similarly, understanding that from a neurophysiology standpoint, the experience of what we characterize as “excitement” and what we characterize as “fear” are identical heightened states. I’ll teach you to make this switch and anchor that so that you can reframe your experience as excitement, which is energy you can use to make your presentation even more compelling and powerful to your audience.
Mental Rehearsal and Mental Training. These are powerful processes applied on a subconscious level. These processes teach your brain to turn negatives into positives, for example, turning what in the past would have been a distraction into cues for increased focus and other positive solutions to mental “glitches.” Because of the nature of the subconscious mind, mental rehearsal can program and “install” new behaviors much more rapidly, so that they become natural behavior toward your future tasks, challenges and performances.
Mental Training techniques include
- Practicing visualization techniques prepares you to feel more comfortable in future venues, even if you have to imagine them.
- A variety of concentration techniques can improve your ability to stay focused on the task. Concentration meditation, which requires steady focus on something is recommended for everyone, though Heart Rate Variability training can improve concentration as well.
- The Adrenaline Dial is an exercise that can help you to tune in to the “arousal” or agitation level of your body, and to coach yourself to lower or raise arousal depending on the demands of the situation, giving you more physical control.
- Hero Meditation teaches you how to learn from peak performers, first by close observation, and then through several stages of imagining and eventually performing the exact behaviors you have observed.
On Site Live Rehearsal. The benefits of coaching at the site of an upcoming event have been proven in sports psychology research, and can greatly enhance the quality of your upcoming speech or presentation.
- On-site rehearsal means live practice, ideally in the client’s work or performance location. This part of coaching is ideal for the last stages of preparation before a speech or any kind of performance. While it is not always possible to go, for example, into the courtroom for litigators, out of town conference sites to coach executives, or the actual stage for a performing artist, a simulated site can be arranged, and the benefits are still tangible.
- Cindy has added to the traditional alternation of mental and live rehearsal a sequence that begins with a “cold” reading of a particularly difficult or problematic part of the presentation. The client critiques this section, mentally rehearses the desired version, then performs it live again. Usually improvement is noticeable from the first run-through, but we continue the sequence until it feels right to you. Next, other specific parts are chosen and rehearsed for enhancement. Finally the entire speech or performance is done live. This is an opportunity to speak in front of another person, and to get last minute coaching on other dimensions of the performance. You have now also performed your speech live, and can continue practicing in front of family members or friends to bring yourself closer to your successful performance.