Overview: Public speaking anxiety can make it so you never want to get on stage. Learn how hypnosis for public speaking can help you overcome the anxiety and build confidence as a speaker.
Chances are you've heard it before: More adults fear public speaking than those who fear death.
Really? Is it that scary?
Yes, research over the years has found that more people fear public speaking – by a pretty sizeable number.
A 1973 study found that 41 percent of surveyed adults were afraid of public speaking, compared to just 19 percent who said death.
More recently, a Gallup Poll conducted in 2000 found 40 percent of people said they feared public speaking. And according to the poll, public speaking was the second most common fear, behind only a fear of snakes.
Why is public speaking so scary?
Many psychologists speculate the fear resides in our subconscious.
We've developed strong opinions and feelings about public speaking. Often, when we tie anxiety and negative emotions to it, we experience anxiety and nervousness when it's time to get in front of a crowd.
Ultimately, to become confident and comfortable on stage, we must address and untangle these fears and emotional attachments.
That's how hypnosis for public speaking can help.
In a state of hypnosis, our minds become much more receptive to new information. We listen to suggestions and file them away in the subconscious, and due to changes in the brain, they’re much more likely to stick.
As such, hypnosis is a popular tools for helping people overcome their fear of public speaking. Billionaire Richard Branson, for example, has said hypnotherapy helped him get over his fear of public speaking. And the research on the subject paints a compelling picture.
The Mental Blocks that Make Public Speaking So Hard
We talk to people every day. Our friends, family members and co-workers. Most wouldn’t even think twice about striking up a conversation with a stranger in the checkout line.
But in front of an audience – from thousands, to even just a dozen – we freeze up. We get in our heads and feel anxious. Why does this everyday task become so difficult in front of groups of people?
Well, there are three different aspects that can cause and reinforce our fears of public speaking, including:
1. The Fear Is An Evolutionary Trait
Our brains think about survival all the time, in every situation. We’ve evolved to become adept at recognizing threats. And when we recognize a threat, our bodies respond – the fight or flight response.
You know the feeling.
Heart racing. Sweaty palms. The inability to recall. Nervous fidgeting.
When we recognize a threat, all we want to do is flee. Get out of the room and to safety, away from the situation.
But why does something like public speaking (which can be tough, but will never cause physical harm) make us want to run?
Well, that’s because we’re hardwired to seek approval. We’ve evolved to form tribes, and use language to earn acceptance into the tribe. In small groups, and in situations, we can gauge how others are responding to what we’re saying, we can read body language, facial expression, and hear their responses.
In front of large groups, we can’t. And that’s one of the key reasons public speaking is so difficult – the fear of disapproval. That fear of getting kicked out of the tribe triggers the fight or flight response.
2. The Fear Is Self Perpetuating
You’ve studied your notes and rehearsed a hundred times. But what if you mess up the first words? What if you screw up that one part you’ve had a difficult time remembering?
In our fear, we become self-sabotagers.
We think it will go poorly. Or that we’ll have a bad experience. Or that our voices will crack and we won’t remember our lines.
And next thing you know: You’re stumbling. You’ve made yourself believe that you would fail, and when you believe something so strongly, it affects your performance (and contributes to your anxiety).
What’s worse, a negative experience fuels your fears. Your irrational, self-sabotaging thoughts become embedded and reinforced. Any future public speaking experiences filter through this prism that your mind’s created, that you’re an incompetent public speaker.
3. Negative Thinking Patterns Amplify the Fear
Up until you step on the stage, your mind races, your thoughts are all over the place, and you lose your focus. You’re “in your head.”
And when you get in your head, your nervousness amplifies.
You stumble over your words and get distracted. Your rehearsals go out the door.
But what causes this? For one, we put too many qualifiers on what success is in any given situation, and when the performance runs contrary to these demands, we run off course.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you walk into a noisy, chatty room. Backstage, all you can think about is how noisy these people are, how no one will listen, etc. You’re lacking that sense of confidence that brings success in public speaking.
When you step on stage, the room doesn’t quiet down right away. Instead of letting the mind experience and even enjoy the speech, you’re thinking about how much they hate you, how much you’re words aren’t landing. So you start to speak faster, you cut words from your remarks, and you stop speaking a passionately as you rehearsed.
In other words, negative thinking patterns – before, during and after your speech – can derail your performance. Your thoughts get in the way.
How Hypnosis Works for Public Speaking
Now you see the conundrum. Many of the factors that make public speaking difficult seem out of our control. They originate in the subconscious mind. It’s automatic.
In other words, the key to success in public speaking is “fixing” or reducing the friction in the mind that’s holding us back.
If we can tame negative thinking patterns, we gain focus in the moment and reduce pressure on ourselves. If we reduce some of the natural fight or flight fear, we gain confidence when speaking and eliminate those biological reactions. You can see how this process works in this hypnosis for public speaking session:
So how can you go about improving the mind’s reaction to public speaking?
The problem with many traditional techniques is that those fight or flight thoughts are still there. Even if we practice them away, they still exist, and it only takes one negative experience (a heckler, for instance) to drum the fear back up.
That’s why so many people turn to hypnotherapy for public speaking.
Hypnosis empowers us to gain access to and control over those unconscious thoughts and negative thinking patterns. And when we can remove those thoughts, we gain confidence in our abilities.
Using hypnosis for public speaking
Changing the brain’s autopilot settings is no easy task, because those thoughts and beliefs are so deeply ingrained in our minds. You might have had a negative public speaking experience in grade school – and next thing you know – you struggle as an adult to speak at a school board meeting.
The reason: That negative experience created a negative attachment in your subconscious. Then, through repetition and self-perpetuating thinking, you began to believe that you weren’t a great public speaker.
In other words, it’s such a challenge because it requires unwinding and removing years of reinforcement.
That’s why hypnotherapy is so effect for public speaking fears.
During a hypnosis session, you reach a highly relaxed, yet highly aware, state of mind. This trance-like state unlocks a special area of the brain – the subconscious. You can bypass your critical mind – the mind that analyzes all information that you hear – and work directly on the part of the mind that holds all the unhealthy information that’s holding your public speaking fear in place.
While under a state of hypnosis, the mind is receptive to new suggested information. And using hypnosis techniques, a hypnotherapist can help to update how the subconscious views public performances.
Different Ways Hypnosis Improves Public Speaking Performance
In particular, hypnosis offers a number of benefits for people who fear public speaking.
1. Calming Unhelpful Thinking Patterns
Do you find yourself getting “in your head” prior to a speaking engagement? You concentrate on the wrong details or aspects of your performance. These thinking patterns can drive our performances off course.
Hypnotherapy helps to remove those old, harmful thinking patterns and provide that sense of underlying confidence. In other words, utilizing hypnotherapy, we can begin to push those negative thoughts out – i.e. thinking the speech has to be perfect or thinking that no one wants to listen to you – that can set yourself up for failure.
2. Taming the Perpetuation Loop
Did you have a bad experience with public speaking? One failure (maybe even in grade school) can completely change how the mind views your ability. And this form of thinking occurs automatically and irrationally. We don’t think about that one time – our minds just become panic-stricken at the thought. And we begin to expect failure or misery, and you get stuck in the loop.
Thanks to the power of suggestion, hypnosis can help you to improve your sense of self, and remove the influence negative experiences have on your confidence.
3. Reducing the Fight or Flight Response
Public speaking is so terrifying for people, because of the imagined and automatic “threat” of being kicked out of the group. We fear disapproval, and not being liked, and upsetting people.
This fear embeds in the subconscious and it’s completely irrational. Fortunately, you can remove it. Through hypnosis, we can begin to alter how the mind perceives public speaking, which can reduce the fight or flight response.
Does Hypnosis Really Work for Public Speaking?
What does the research say about hypnosis and public speaking? A wide body of research has established that hypnosis is a powerful tool for overcoming anxiety. In fact, The Mayo Clinic uses hypnosis as a complementary treatment for anxiety-related disorders like fear of public speaking, social anxiety and fear of flying, and hypnosis is also recommended for addictions like quitting smoking or binge eating.
For example, an important study conducted in 1997 examined how people who had severe fears of public speaking would respond to hypnosis. The study examined two groups: One partaking in traditional behavioral therapy and another group that used behavioral therapy and hypnosis in tandem.
The study found that hypnosis helped to improve expected and perceived levels of anxiety during public speaking. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that hypnosis was effective because it helped to moderate the expectancy. People didn’t expect failure and misery as strongly, and their performance improved because of this.
Read up on the latest research regarding hypnosis and anxiety. Our hypnotherapy for anxiety guide features a run-down of the latest research.
Become a Confident Public Speaker Today
We offer numerous resources to help you try hypnosis:
Practice self-hypnosis with a hypnosis app. With apps, you follow a guided recording that will help you relax and reach a state of hypnosis. Then, your guide offers suggestions to empower the subconscious.
Read hypnotherapy books. For example, Close Your Eyes, Get Free, written by our founder Grace Smith, teaches self-hypnosis techniques, and you can use these techniques to reduce anxiety and improve performance.
Schedule a session with a hypnotherapist. We offer online and in-person sessions. Schedule a session today!