Yearly Archives - 2014

Fear of Flying

Fear of Flying

Fear of flying Cardiff: Definition

A fear of flying is also known as a flying phobia (aerophobia, aviophobia, aviophobia and pteromerhanophobia). It is a fairly common and irrational fear characterised by an intense dread experienced during some part of your flight.  

Fear of flying Cardiff: How it impacts on your life

Fear of flying: panic attack
Fear of flying: panic attacks on a plane can dent your self-confidence
A fear of flying often includes some anticipatory anxiety; moderate anxiety symptoms can accumulate weeks before the day of the flight. If you are committed to your flight, the continued anxiety can disrupt your sleep patterns, concentration and attention levels. Should you fly without help, the anxiety attack on the plane can be embarrassing and humiliating; your self-confidence and self-esteem can be severely dented. You then have to recover to participate in your onward journey (e.g. a work meeting) and then contemplate another trauma with your return flight. When armed with only your fear, the severity of your condition worsens with each new flight. As the new experiences accumulate, the anxiety symptoms can attach to other new fears stifling your general lifestyle. ‘Not’ flying can still impact on your life too. Most fears and phobias involve some degree of avoidance behaviour. It is a common way of coping (albeit unsuccessfully) with your fearful condition. You may be the fearful flyer who readily admits that you have a fear of flying and will do all you can to prevent your own traumatic experience. But some of you are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit your condition however. You pretend that it doesn’t exist and find ways to ‘dodge’ flying with irrational excuses, often to the dismay of people (family) around you. But avoidance can have its long term consequences. A fear a flying can impact on your professional career as well. If you can delegate to your subordinate staff and justify it as “part of their development”, it can delay you having to ever deal with the inevitable. But avoidance just makes the fear worse in your mind. When you are required to meet clients abroad and can’t avoid it, the recurring unexplainable last minute “illness” can cost you your job. A fear of flying can also affect your personal life. It prevents you from regularly seeing wider family or friends in another country. It can spoil your own family life, depriving members of your family of a summer holiday abroad. Long-term consequences can also be transferred to other people. Children can “learn” beliefs from authority figures like their parents. As a parent, your biased reactions may end up “teaching” your children your fears without realising it. To counter any feeling of guilt, you may try to avoid flying with them to prevent them “catching” a fear of flying from you.  

Fear of flying Cardiff: What causes a fear of flying?

Fears and phobias can have a genetic cause. This means that you have a predisposition to be anxious. You are more likely to develop irrational fears because it “runs in the family”. With a genetic cause, fears and phobias are thus considered as psychological states “waiting to happen”. It can take a relatively moderate psychological trauma to set up your fear of flying. Outside of genetics, you may have learnt your fear of flying through directly associated experiences. This means that you were previously involved in a “terrifying” flight (or flights) and now connect your fear response (also known as your survival instinct or ‘fight of flight!’ response) with flying in a plane. The mere thought of flying again in the future triggers a release of adrenaline to ward you away from more danger. Being in a situation where you are “forced” to fly can create an anxiety attack. These situations only serve to escalate your fear of flying. Vicarious learning is the term used to describe when you learn anxiety through the experiences of others. As mentioned above, as a young child, you will have “modelled” some of your beliefs and behaviour on your authority figures, usually your parents. Seeing them panic convinces you that “if they are scared of it, then it must be dangerous!” Other significant people such as wider family and friends can also transfer this fear. Teenage hood is a notable period when you live through the experiences of your friends. Although you can learn your fear of flying through significant people, other sources can also be important. Witnessing a traumatic event or seeing strangers having a panic attack “in the flesh” is enough to initiate your fear of that situation. Even seeing something in the media or being told about a traumatic event can “sow seeds” of fearful beliefs. Some of you can relate to how easy it is to be “drawn in” to a real account of something e.g. a documentary, as if you are living the experience when it is being televised. Some fears are unconsciously learnt and can appear to be triggered spontaneously. This is because you haven’t identified the “cause”. Consider a situation when, as sufferer of moderate claustrophobia, you have to sit in the back seat of a two door car. You are anxious throughout the journey. Half way through the journey, the driver makes a sharp swerve away from a potential collision. Understandably, all the passengers are distressed having just avoided a nasty accident. Your anxiety response is more acute because during those few moments of extreme motion, your “escape” was blocked by the front passengers of the two door car. You don’t know it yet, but you have now unconsciously “fused” claustrophobia and extreme motion with a panic attack. The next time you fly, you go through moderate anxiety again because you have claustrophobia. Suddenly, you experience some turbulence and you start to panic. You haven’t consciously made the connection with the car incident yet. There is more turbulence and you continue to suffer more panic attacks. You are anxious and confused because these panic attacks seem to be happening spontaneously. Sometime after the flight, you discuss your panic attacks with a trusted friend. Then it clicks! You realise the association between the car journey, your panic attacks and the turbulence. Your fear of flying is now “actualised”. Turbulence is another trigger for your panic. You are afraid to fly again, in case turbulence causes you the distress of panic attacks.  

Fear of flying Cardiff: Fears related to a fear of flying

In the above example of unconscious learning, the fear of flying has been caused by other indirect situations. This is the case with most of my hypnotherapy patients. These indirect fears have accumulated and “leaked” into flying over time. But this is a common development of unresolved fears – they “trap” more objects and situations until you become housebound (agoraphobic). If you are unable to identify what other situations lie behind your fear of flying, your panic will continue to be spontaneous and uncontrollable. So what other fears and situations can contribute to a fear of flying? The list below contains situations, fears and personality traits that are directly and indirectly related to a fear of flying. • Fear of Turbulence – Turbulence is a common occurrence and is usually caused by changes in air flow. It can make the plane shake, shudder and bump. You interpret these motion changes as a warning that the plane has lost control. Even though the seat belt signs are shown to protect passengers from the effects of extreme turbulence, you believe it is a warning that you are in extreme danger. • Fear of Engine noises – Changes in engine noises are generated when ascending and descending. Mechanical changes are also made in-flight to deal with turbulence. Since you are already in a heightened state of alert, you are sensitive to any new sudden sounds. Flight noises cause you to “jump” and frantically look around for reassurance that you are safe. • Fear of adverse weather conditions – You may have experienced a previous incident (outside of flying) in which the weather caused a catastrophe. You are now predisposed to believe that unfavourable weather conditions will disable the plane midflight. You constantly “weather watch”, checking weather reports in an effort to control your emotions. • Fear of a plane crash – You may have survived a trauma or know someone else who’s plane had crashed. This has set up an anticipation of a repeat experience. You battle with media coverage of new plane crashes in attempt to “exorcise” your demons, but they only serve to re-traumatise you. • Fear of heights – Your fear of heights can accompany a fear of falling. Your visual field is distorted (creating vertigo) when you can look down from a high place without any physical protection (barrier). The plane gives you this, but you are still uneasy. An aisle seat is a must to help control your anxiety, but this is not enough to ease your imagination from running wild. Ironically, something keeps tempting you to have a quick look outside. • Fear of confined spaces
Fear of flying aisle
Fear of flying: Even the aisle can feel claustrophobic
You suffer with claustrophobia and panic when you are unable to leave a situation. Unfortunately, your reflex “solution” – to make a dash for it is withdrawn from you when in a plane. The moment the doors close, you hyperventilate. It’s as if there is no air on board the plane. This leaves you with “unspent” physical tension causing your legs to shake uncontrollably. • Fear of vomiting (emetophobia) or illness – You fear being sick yourself or have a fear of people around you vomiting. This is made worse being in a confined space and having limited opportunity to leave the situation. Fear of being ill whilst abroad (or your fellow travellers being ill) can be a separate fear or one associated a fear of vomiting. Once the plane takes off, it symbolises that you are far away from your home comforts to treat your illness or your family to help take care of you. • You have a toilet phobia – This condition covers a number of situations including: - A fear that you may not get to the toilet in time (bowel or bladder problems). - When you get to the toilet you are unable to ‘go’ (IBS constipation or bladder shy) for fear of people listening. This means other passengers would have to wait a long time. - Because of IBS diarrhoea you fear that you may “mess up” the toilet and would be overwhelmed with embarrassment. The noise and smell can compound your embarrassment in some situations. - Or that you have an OCD-related hygiene issue and are unable to use public toilets for fear of contamination. During your flight, it is common procedure that you remain seated during take-off/landing; using the toilet is prohibited in case of turbulence. There are also limited confined toilets on-board the plane and you may have to queue to use the toilet during busy times. Not being free to go to the toilet when you want causes you anxiety and makes your symptoms worse. • Fear of losing control – In the past, you may have been called a “control freak!” In the way you define “control”, being in a situation where you cannot ‘command’ your surroundings creates anxiety for you. Showing anxiety to your fellow passengers would be embarrassing. You perceive a display of anxiety to be “losing control”. • Fear of trusting people – You are required to place trust in the flight crew to ensure your journey is in safe hands, but you struggle to have faith in people that you cannot see. Instead, you disregard their expertise until you have interacted with them in some way. You remain anxious until you have made this connection. • Fear of fear – You struggle to deal with anticipatory anxiety. Any event that has a series of scheduled events (good or bad), creates anxiety for you. Your anxiety then immobilises you, preventing you from constructively taking active steps to reduce your worry. You procrastinate and “hide” because thinking about the flight/trip causes you some discomfort. You resort to any “unhelpful” distractions until the “last hour” and then panic on the day. You seek quick-fixes and lean heavily on your support network. This adds to their frustration because they have offered their help weeks ago; you just weren’t ready to hear/accept it from them. Each layer of fear triggers another layer of fear, and it just keeps going round and round. • Fear of panic attacks – You are unable to identify the cause of your panic attacks. When they surface, they inflict “terror” in you. You believe panic attacks to be a sign that something far worse is going to happen to you. You feel like you are constantly on “stand-by”. • You have social anxiety – Being amongst strangers generates a moderate amount of anxiety. Your condition means that you fear doing anything that draws attention to yourself or that might cause you embarrassment. You choose an aisle seat because asking someone to move (should you want to say go to the toilet) requires courage. So you may just wait until the passenger next to you leaves their seat or you wait until the journey has ended to go to the toilet. • Fear of falling over – You are unsteady on your feet. Although your feet are on “solid ground”, the motion and thought of being up in the air create vertigo. Your anxiety exacerbates your symptoms, so you may stay pinned to your seat to reduce the fear that you will fall over and hurt yourself. • Fear of falling - Your fear of falling is connected to a fear of heights. In a plane your fear is not as intense as being next to a high cliff edge without a barrier. But being up in the air in any vehicle is enough to cause you moderate anxiety. This is because you believe that something could damage the plane and you will be ejected from your seat into the air at altitude. You wear your seat belt tight throughout your journey. • Fear of flying over water – You believe that when the plane flies over water, you are a few hours away from emergency services. If the plane runs into any trouble, then it will be required to ditch onto the sea. You may be a non-swimmer and you have visions of struggling in cold stormy seas. • Fear of flying at night – You book “day” flights where possible. Without being able to “see” your danger, you remain apprehensive throughout your flight. You constantly seek reassurance from the flight staff. Looking out of the window when you are flying over the sea at night is pointless and creates more worry. • Fear of hijacking – The prospect of the plane being hijacked is very remote with stringent security procedures in place. But the media presentation of a previous hijacking and the horrific accounts from any hostages can traumatise the public into believing that there could be loopholes in the security. You see your fellow passengers as potential threats. • Fear of bombing – As with a fear of hijacking, this is another fear in which you believe the security checks will somehow overlook. You sit through the whole journey petrified that you are sitting above the ill-fated cargo. You believe your fellow passengers may have an exploding device. • Fear of attack – Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, renewed insecurity about the extent to which terrorists will inflict their might has become more uncertain. You travel in fear of a surprise attack from an unknown source. • Fear of security checks – Even though you have nothing to “hide”, you find the security checks intrusive because you fear attention. The “baggage” you carry in your mind triggers a past feeling of guilt that surfaces during tense procedures like going through customs. You are waiting to be accused of something, even though you have done nothing wrong. • Fear of boredom – You have an obsession to keep busy because when you are bored, you worry. Nobody wants a delayed flight, but “hanging around” brings out your obsessive-compulsive tendencies. The fear of being idle is a threat to your equilibrium on those long haul flights. • Fear of the unknown
Fear of flying: fear of the unknown
Fear of flying: Fear of the unknown can make flying a terrifying experience
You prefer to stick with what you already know. With a new experience, your mind can fill the void with what you “have known” in the past even if it is negative. So for the new fliers with a tendency to feel anxious, a potential “exciting curiosity” is filled with dread. Even for the seasoned flier, a new destination or new work obligation can build adrenaline through the flight. Over time a fear of flying is attached to going to a strange place, meeting new people or dealing with a new situation. • Fear that you are leaving your family – You have suffered a previous bereavement when you or the deceased was away from home. The physical distance meant that you struggled to bring closure to your grief. When you or a member of the family travels, the fear of a repeat scenario is created. The plane taking-off symbolises that you may not see them again. • Fear of death – You associate dying with your internal anxiety symptoms. When your heart races, you think you are having a heart attack. So any external situation that causes you anxiety (like flying) soon becomes inextricably linked to your fear of death. Or you fear a painful death and desperately try to control how you may die. You imagine that a plane crash will involve extensive suffering before your demise. As you can see, the list of potential causes of a fear of flying (both direct and indirect) is quite extensive. When you can identify what lies behind your fear of flying, you can then seek more effective ways to cope with and treat your primary issues.  

Fear of flying Cardiff: Do you have a fear of flying?

For the frequent flyer, your travelling arrangements are being dealt with on a regular basis and so you are accustomed to dealing with the various travelling procedures. When you fly occasionally however, moderate levels of anxiety can develop around the day of the flight because these events are not in part of your regular routine. The infrequent events can include: Planning your journey and keeping to the schedule on the day of the flight – Have you packed everything you need...Will you arrive on time for your flight etc? Planning your forward trip – Whether it’s a business or leisure trip, do you know where you are going...Have you prepared for the business meeting ahead etc? Ensuring everything you leave behind is secure and being managed – In work, have you delegated any ongoing projects...Will someone at home deal with any family arrangements etc? You can expect some disruption to your life dealing with the above. But a fear of flying is far more severe than this. So what qualifies as a fear of flying? Firstly, rather than viewing the typical events listed above as a series of manageable small tasks, they all become overwhelming. In addition to this, you have significant levels of anticipatory anxiety that disrupts your lifestyle weeks before your flight. • Sleep patterns are disrupted – You struggle to get to sleep and find that you wake frequently thinking about some aspect of the flight. The cumulative effect of this is tiredness and loss of concentration. You then oversleep and feel tired through the day. • Your mind is pre-occupied – You obsess over your fear, worrying about what could go wrong on the day of the flight. • Your attention is affected – Your mind is “detached”, daydreaming about your fears. Your concentration is distracted by the anxiety of your flight. • Ritualistic habits increase – Any “comforting” habits become more compulsive. Drinking, smoking, nail-biting, hair-twirling etc. whatever habits you have to ease your anxiety increases in frequency and duration. • You procrastinate – Since the flight has fear attached to it, you desperately avoid any tasks related to your trip. Instead of proactively dealing with your journey, you opt for pleasant but non-urgent trivial tasks to ease your discomfort: “Time to tidy the sock drawer!” • You seek avoidance strategies – If it’s time to book the flights, you try to delay the booking because your “diary looks very busy” around the time of the flight. • Anxiety symptoms get worse – Your anxiety symptoms (see below) escalate the closer you get to your flight date. You have a fear of flying if near the time of the flight or during the flight you suffer with one or more of the following anxiety or stress symptoms at an intense level: • Feel nauseous and faintBreathing is laboured and rapid (hyperventilation) • Mouth is dry and speech is stammered • Suffer with IBS and irritable bladderBlush and sweat excessively • Heart beat is forceful and rapid • Find is hard to concentrate and memory is reducedMuscles feel tense, shake uncontrollably or fidget • Become claustrophobic with the need to move (pace) around • Feel self-conscious as if everyone is staring at you • Increase any comforting habits e.g. nail biting • Suffer with anxiety attacks or panic attacks There are numerous other stress and anxiety symptoms. These listed represent some of the more common ones.  

Fear of flying Cardiff: Treating your fear of flying

There are numerous ways to help treat your fear of flying: • Medication – Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with your anxiety symptoms. They are likely to vary according to the severity of your anxiety and the duration of your flight. There may be some side effects. • Counselling/CBT – These approaches seek to change your negative thoughts and behaviour into more positive ones. Some courses of treatment can be extensive. • Self-help – Reading books and website articles or simply facing your fears can help you to get through challenging situations. Your own subjective beliefs can prejudice your learning however. In addition to this, further negative experiences can reinforce your fear of flying. • Flying courses – These include a group talk followed by an actual flight. If you are the type of person who believes that “when I have done it once, then I’m cured”, then this approach could be helpful to you. The group situation may not get to the heart of any personal issues that you have. If anxious people around you tend to trigger your anxiety then you could be more vulnerable in a group situation like this.  

How can hypnotherapy treat you Fear of flying in Cardiff?

Hypnotherapy is an effective and rapid way of treating your fear of flying in a number of ways: • Control your anxiety – Controlling your anxiety is an essential part of managing your fear of flying. When you are in an anxious state, your perceptions are distorted. You are more likely to interpret events as anxious one. If you suffer anticipatory anxiety then this can affect you days or weeks before your actual flight. Anticipatory anxiety heightens your anxious expectations, taking you to the emotional experience that you are trying to avoid. Self-hypnosis techniques will also help reduce your anxiety symptoms (see above) before and during your flight. Self-hypnosis techniques are far more effective than simple distraction methods, because you are actively dealing with the issue that is central to your fear of flying: the ability to relax during your flight. • Identify and treat unconscious causes of your fear of flying – Without correctly identifying and treating the primary causes behind your fear of flying, the fear remains. You will continue to frantically put energy and effort into the wrong “box”, not understanding why you are in still in fear. This is where the expertise of a professional hypnotherapist can make the difference between dealing with the right issues that removes your fear and “hoping for the best.” • Reframe your past traumas – Unresolved past traumas are stored in your mind to warn you against experiencing yet another trauma. So when your strongest anxious symptom is triggered e.g. by turbulence, anxiety surges up into your consciousness and adrenaline floods your body. The anxious emotion acts like a magnet, pulling your attention into it rather than being able to deal with the situation at hand. Hypnotherapy can help you reframe your past traumas, safely releasing the emotion from the negative event. You can then freely and resourcefully create the emotional experience that you want during your flight. • Release your panic response – Extreme fears and phobias have something in common; there is a panic response associated with the object or situation. When your anxiety trigger has been identified, hypnotherapy can help you dissociate your panic attack from this stimulus. Turbulence becomes just “another event” rather than a cause for your anxiety symptoms. A new relaxation response can then be learned and developed.
Overcome fear of flying with hypnotherapy Cardiff
You can overcome your fear of flying with hypnotherapy Cardiff

Fear of flying Cardiff: Summary

For the majority of the population, flying is a natural way of travelling to your destination. It is common method of travel when going on holiday or as part of work obligations. It can be a natural part of your lifestyle too. Choose Hypnotherapy Cardiff to treat your fear of flying and get ready to book your next flight. Flying to your next destination is just a few steps away!

For further information on treating your fear of flying in Cardiff, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff


Public Speaking Tips

Public speaking Tips

When you are worrying about a giving a presentation, public speaking tips can offer your mind a release from your anxiety. Public speaking tips can help you to focus on a “process” rather than being consumed by your own self-limiting doubts. They can also help you to portray confidence that you can embrace as your experience grows. Over time your public speaking courage will become a natural part of you, but it takes determination and a desire to succeed; this change rarely happens overnight.
Public speaking tips
Public speaking tips can help you focus on a process
These public speaking tips are written using my experience as a qualified teacher/trainer. They also draw from my experience as a Senior Clinical hypnotherapist for Hypnotherapy Cardiff. Use these public speaking tips to guide you if you have never given a presentation before. Alternatively, you may find one of these public speaking tips helps your preparation in your next presentation. Presentations can take various forms. These public speaking tips are aimed at the typical educational setting where you are given a title and required to present information within a set time limit. This information you present could be personal, factual or emotional. The information generally serves to inform the audience or help shape their opinion about making an informed choice in the present or the future.  

Public speaking tips #1: Research your topic

Researching what you are going to talk about is not one of the most exciting public speaking tips to begin with, but it is an important one. Your presentation could be a disaster if you (or your personality) don’t fall into the following categories: • You ooze self-confidence and love being the centre of attention. It doesn’t matter what you speak about, you just relish the opportunity to be on stage. Even if you messed up, you wouldn’t notice because you possess a hardened exterior called arrogance. • You have developed and mastered your presentation character/role. This allows you to think on your feet and you seamlessly move from one topic to another. You could wax lyrical about anything • You are an expert in your field and can talk for hours because you are qualified and knowledgeable. • All of the above! If you are new to public speaking, given time you can become one or all of the above. In the meantime, research your subject until it you have enough content to play with.  

Public speaking tips #2: Keep your presentation relevant to your aim

What’s that, you don’t have an aim? Then how will you know what is relevant? Ok, so this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. This really does depend on whether you have been given a presentation with strict criteria to follow or an open-ended title in which you are required to make the decision for yourself. If you have been given the criteria to follow, keep reminding yourself of the meaning behind the criteria. Keep using this in every stage of the process because there’s nothing worse than talking about something that is a million miles away from the title. It is also important to identify any marking structure. The higher the marks allocated to a topic, the more likely you are to devote your time to these topics. If the title is open-ended e.g. Pop music, then give your presentation a direction (your aim) such as “number one hits by (a certain) pop group”. You simply can’t cover every fact in a short presentation. Give a statement of your aim at the beginning with possible subheadings. These can include a few ground rules e.g. asking questions at the end rather than throughout the presentation. You may even give a statement of what you “won’t” present because of certain limitations e.g. time. Factors that can influence your aim include: • Temporal factors: Such as the time you have to prepare (and take into account other obligation), the duration of the presentation or your other obligations that might intrude on this project. • Situational factors: This can include the availability of resources e.g. microphone and lectern, the layout of the room and the size of your audience. • Personal factors: Such as your subject-knowledge, confidence, voice projection, use of non-verbal gestures etc. The more you know about these factors, the more you can shape the precise intentions of your aim.  

Public speaking tips #3: Identify an objective for your audience

Some of these public speaking tips clearly overlap. This one has direct links with public speaking tips #2. Your aim is what you intend to do in your presentation. Your objective considers what your audience will be able to do by the end of your presentation. If your presentation is about your formal one-sided communication of information (i.e. only you speaking), then your objective may simply be about your audience hearing/understanding you and being informed about some facts. One important question to keep asking yourself is “How do I know that they..?” in this case “...can hear me/understand me?” The answer to this might depend on what kind of feedback is available? Are they looking puzzled throughout? Are they laughing at your jokes? What type of questions do they ask at the end? Are you being graded (formal feedback)? The feedback could be immediate or post presentation. An objective is made clearer when it can be expressed in behavioural terms. “Understanding” is not a behavioural objective because the audience may not have been required to do anything to understand. They can just sit there and passively listen.
Public speaking tips: know your audience
Public speaking tips: Know your audience
The feedback may not be known until sometime after the presentation. This is where the objective might be sales-based e.g. gaining 10 sales of your product or service within a month. Or maybe your presentation is influencing your audience to make a decision e.g. vote about a policy you are advocating in the next election. In a didactic situation e.g. teaching or training, the process can include an assessment of the behavioural outcome e.g. the audience needs to write an essay on the content of your presentation. Depending on the value of the essays (feedback), you then evaluate the whole process and make adjustments to your presentation or lesson.  

Public speaking tips #4: Give your presentation a beginning, middle and end

Structuring your content is essential for clarity. Without statements of intent (or limitation), the presentation can appear vague and disjointed. The audience have no concept of your direction or won’t know their involvement in the process. The first stage in public speaking tips #4 is the introduction. This can include some of the following points where they are relevant: • A welcome - Stating who you are, qualifications and experience, situation (“I have been asked to give a presentation by the...”) • State your aim – See public speaking tips #2. “The aim of this presentation is ...” • State any limitations affecting your presentation – Stating what you will not be presenting helps the audience recognise the emphasis you are giving to your presentation. • State any methods you are using: Are you discussing or describing your content? Are you using any visual aids that help your audience anticipate their involvement? This can be an extension of the aim “The aim of the presentation is to compare styles of pop music between two decades. I will be playing some pop music from those decades to demonstrate my analysis.” • State any objective for the audience: See public speaking tips #3. “I would like you to listen to the various styles of music. Please give a vote at the end of your preferred choice.” The next stage in public speaking tips #4 is the middle section. This consists of the main points of the presentation. The main points need to be organised, logical and relevant to the aim. Ideally, your points will be enhanced with additional information and/or visual aids (pictures or diagrams). Following the example used of the pop music presentation, pictures of the pop bands and audible aids (music or video) would complement the presentation and help make it more captivating. Include linking statements sometimes called “signposts” that help the presentation to coherently flow from one point to another. They act as bridging statements and can be used to build rapport with your audience. Signpost statements can: • Summarise what you have just done - “Now that I have discussed...” • Emphasise what you are going to do - “The next section of my presentation will...” • Clarify the importance of a point by linking it back to the aim – “You will notice the statement made by...” Signposts can be created by changing the pitch of your voice e.g. starting a new point with a raised tone of voice. Signposts can also be non-verbal but still serve to navigate the audience through your presentation. They can include moving from one part of the room to another, creating a short pause, switching equipment on or off and glancing at another part of the audience. The last stage of public speaking tips #4 is the end section, sometimes called the conclusion. The end section can make the following points: • Re-emphasise your aim and objective – “In the presentation, I have aimed to... you can now...” • Summarise your main points “I hoped to have been able to show that...” • Mention any closing remarks – For example, thank the audience, inform them of what is happening next, tell them about any exit procedures or a “call to action” regarding further information “Please help yourself to the information booklets..." or “contact me for further help...” • An opportunity for the audience to ask questions – Where appropriate, leave time for questions about any topics presented. Remember that it is better to admit that you don’t know something and be prepared to research the answer for them, than to bluff the way through with a vague answer.  

Public speaking tips #5: Learn how to breathe to control your anxiety

Knowledge and experience can build self-confidence. Along your presentation journey, some useful breathing techniques can help release your anxiety: • In anticipation of a presentation – Use breathing techniques to help you relax when your presentation anxieties “appear” in your mind. Worries have a habit of popping into your mind whilst doing other routine activities. • During the presentation – Breathing techniques can calm your nerves throughout the presentation. Think of it as a useful “vent” when tension builds up. • After the presentation – It can seem like a relief that you would rather not replay in your mind, but “putting the presentation away” can help you build confidence for the next presentation. Use breathing techniques and visualisation to process what you have done well with a feeling of achievement. Then “over trace” the parts that didn’t go so well, imagining your return, tackling any errors that you made. This process can affect how and where you “store” the presentation in your mind. Better to learn from it, than to run away from it! A common problem associated with anxiety is the development of psychosomatic symptoms. These can include shortness of breath, palpitations, blushing, profuse sweating, dryness and constriction in the throat, involuntary tremors in the hand, tendency to stammer, IBS etc. The anxiety sufferer then worries that these symptoms are visible to the audience and desperately tries to conceal them. They are more preoccupied with their psychosomatic symptoms than with the task in hand. Breathing can act as the anxiety diffuser that alleviates the symptoms, allowing you to focus on your presentation. Learn how to breathe now! Learning to breathe outside of any external distraction is essential to being able to control your anxiety. You can then begin to use these breathing techniques in progressively more stressful situations. Thus developing breathing techniques is part of your preparation. Actually, it’s part of how you manage your lifestyle! The use of breathing techniques can be considered a self-hypnosis. This is explained below in public speaking tips #6.  

Public speaking tips #6: Rehearse and visualise your presentation

Here’s a quick summary of where you should be: • Once you have written the content of your presentation, check that it matches your assessment criteria. • Amend any content so that it is relevant to the aims and objectives. • Organise the layout so that it has a distinct beginning, middle and end. • Adjust the content so that it fits into any time constraints. With most of the boxes being ticked, you can now practise (rehearse) your presentation. Some people like to start with a script and condense it down to a few key points. This will involve familiarising some of the content so that keywords can be placed on a hand-sized card/bullet points in PowerPoint. This “condensing” process can help you to recall some of the material from the notes yet still maintain the planned structure (since it’s easy to lose your place!) The condensing stage is important because it stops you “reading from a script” with your head and eyes in your notes throughout the whole presentation.
Public speaking tips: Visualise your presentation
Public speaking tips: Visualise your presentation going well
Now that you are familiar with the content, visualise giving a confident presentation. That’s right, close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and imagine being in the situation with everything going well. So, imagine all that you would talk about, feel and see in your audience. Thinking positively means just that! Many people “think” they are thinking positively, when all they are doing is taking their mind to the place that they don’t want to go! Most “positive” thinking in default mode ends up reinforcing the negatives, or it involves anxious worrying about a situation. The process of positive visualisation (thinking) involves giving your mind something to focus on. You can work towards this image by converting your internal (anxiety) symptoms and what is happening around you into positive outcomes. When you are anxious what happens? • Breathing is rapid and short – visualise giving your presentation breathing slowly and deeply and at regular intervals. • Voice becomes quiet and throat feels constricted – visualise speaking with a loud multi-tonal voice and the throat feeling relaxed. • Legs feel like jelly and hands shake – visualise your legs feeling strong and hands feeling relaxed. And so on... Then visualise converting some of your “external” anxieties: • The audience look bored – visualise the audience looking interested and stimulated by your content and use of voice control. Imagine them being on your side! • You fear losing your place – visualise using a prompt card that helps you to move seamlessly from one point to another. • You fear some technology not working – visualise keeping calm and apologising for the “technical issue”. Explain what your audience would have seen as a contingency plan. Visualisation and rehearsals can be done in front of a mirror. You may even wish to practise using a video camera or a trustworthy audience (e.g. your family). With each rehearsal you will build up a positive template and expectation for how you will present on the actual day. This has the effect of lowering your anticipatory anxiety and helps you to feel like the presentation is a natural part of what you do.  

Final public speaking tips

Some of these public speaking tips are summarised in the previous points. Other public speaking tips you will acquire with experience as your confidence grows: • Use memory prompts – A well-rehearsed presentation will flow smoothly. Learn your material until a keyword prompts a sentence or paragraph about that topic. Effective use of PowerPoint or visual aids can also help this process but are secondary to the dialogue you use through your presentation. If you are quoting some complex dialogue, ensure you glance up at the audience at regular intervals. • Project your voice – Develop a “presentation voice” that is loud, multi-tonal, and moderately paced with effective pauses. Recording and listening to your own voice can help you develop your “presentation voice” Your pitch can be maximised when you involve your diaphragm muscles. Imagine speaking to someone in the room next door! That doesn’t mean shouting, but the focus of your voice should be in your abdomen rather than straining your vocal chords. Varying the tone in your voice can help stimulate interest in your audience. Learn to raise and lower the tone of your voice to emphasise and de-emphasise certain parts of your presentation. Vary the pace of your dialogue. If you are anxious, you are likely to speak quickly, so the general advice is to slow down. Momentary pauses can generate a feeling of confidence. Coordinate your relaxed breathing with your voice projection. • Develop a stage presence – This is something that grows with your experience and your confidence. It includes certain points already mentioned such as the content of your presentation and the way you have organised it. It also includes non-verbal aspects of communication such as: Eye contact – Your eye contact can be used to give each person a feeling of importance. Staring at one person in particular can feel intimidating, so pan across your audience slowly in a gentle rotation, as if you want to acknowledge each person present. It’s easy to give too much importance to people in the middle of the audience, so try not to ignore people in the corners of the room. Posture – How you stand/sit can set the tone of your presentation. Standing tall behind a lectern (when there is one available) can be appropriate for a more formal presentation. It gives you somewhere to place your notes whilst still facing the audience. Where the situation is didactic, some people prefer to stand without a “barrier”. Sometimes, sitting on a table can emphasise the informality of the situation. Your movement around the stage can also create a feeling of confidence. Some “purposeful” steps can help counter the tendency to stand rigid when feeling anxious. Facial expressions – A (genuine) smile can indicate that you are comfortable and enjoying what you do. The audience will feed off your body language, helping to put them at ease.
Public speaking tips hand gestures
Public speaking tips: Use some hand gestures to communicate
Hand gestures – Hand gestures can help you to appear animated and interesting. Use a few gestures (but not too many) to emphasise any visual aids. Some psychologists believe that “open hand” gestures can communicate that you are open and honest. Some animation can be better than remaining completely still. Seeing a video of you speaking can be a good way of developing stage presence in the long term. A video can also help identify and reduce any communication “annoyances” e.g. excessive use of hand gestures. Organise your stage – How you arrange the stage and seating (where appropriate) will create a formal or informal atmosphere. As you grow in confidence, organise the stage in the way that helps your communication. Can any visual aids be seen by your audience? You won’t always be able to choose the layout in every venue but it helps to have a concept when you can arrange the stage yourself. • Break down any barriers with your audience – Finding out something about your audience can help you to tailor your presentation to their needs. What is their prior knowledge or learning about this subject? Do they all work for the same organisation? Has the advert targeted a specific need? This information can help you to build rapport with your audience with references to their “group” that they might find interesting. Barriers can also be broken down by speaking to individual members of your audience before and after the presentation. Any feedback that is returned can help you to develop your presentation in the long term. If your presentation is aimed at your peer group as part of an assessment, then find something refreshing to add to the presentation even if it’s some light humour (but keep it to the presentation aim). Hearing numerous presentations on the same topic can be repetitive. Involving members of the audience can be a good way of keeping their interest and keeping the presentation informal. Think of your audience as being on your side; this will ease your anxiety. Surprisingly, they want you to succeed. Giving them a welcome can help put them at ease. • Have some contingency plans – Plan for things to go well, first and foremost. But keep a few back-up plans with solutions in case something goes wrong. A technology failure is rare, but can happen. You can only then do your best to make amends. Apologise for this and then if it means you rely on written notes, then use them! It’s amazing how “character building” situations like this can be. You can’t cover every eventuality, but when left to think on your feet, it serves to... • Believe in yourself – Confidence comes with achievement. If you have never given a presentation, then transfer the feeling of confidence from any other successes you have had in your life. Rehearse the affirmation “I can do this!” as part of your preparation.   Public speaking is a continuous journey of learning. Give your presentation, then assess and review your performance. Make changes and try something new when the perceived risk is low. That way, if it goes wrong, it won’t be the end of the world! Public speaking tips can help give you feedback and freshen your strategies. Public speaking tips can remind you that different approaches are required for different situations.   More information: Fear of public speaking: Causes and treatment Fear of public speaking and social anxiety  

For further information on public speaking tips and treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff


Fear of public speaking and social anxiety

Fear of public speaking and social anxiety

For many people, a fear of public speaking ranks as one of the most common dreaded fears. If you are an extrovert and love attention, then you are more likely to take these presenting matters into your stride. But for the shy introverted speaker, life can be very, very different. Hearing “don’t worry, it’ll be fine...” is meant with good intentions, but it can seem so patronizing.

Fear of public speaking male
Fear of public speaking can be traumatising

A fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is a form of social anxiety. You can have a fear of public speaking yet still be comfortable displaying physical skills in public or meeting new people. But if these situations also cause you to feel nervous, then your social anxiety is considered to be more acute. When you suffer severe social anxiety, public speaking can cause you to panic and can be the source of major distress. In work, during those meetings of great importance, it can cost you your job. More importantly, if you have social anxiety and general anxiety, it can be a source of depression.


Fear of public speaking: The socially anxious experience

Does this seem familiar to you?

The racing heart beat; the familiar “knot” in your stomach and the nausea are just the start of the affairs when you are told that you have to speak in public. It’s rarely something that you volunteer to do. Who wants to be publicly shamed and disgraced in front of your wider family, peer group or colleagues? The agony has started long before the presentation date, yet there is this impending doom that beats as each day draws closer. Your sleep is restless.

The socially anxious speaker hates being the focus of attention. If you could guarantee that your presentation will impress your audience then it might not seem so bad. But to be in the spotlight when you are struggling to be coherent is degrading. The harder you try to mask your symptoms the more “visible” you become! There is nowhere to hide from your fear of public speaking.

Can you avoid giving your presentation? When you look back on your life, I’m sure you would have done all you could to skive those early childhood school presentations. You tried to feign a tummy ache (which was probably anxiety) in the hope that it would convince your parents that you needed a day off school. But even moving through the educational system, a presentation would have been demanded as part of an assessment somewhere. And when they gave out the subject titles, you had to pick the “dull” subject that you knew nothing about and would send everyone to sleep. You did the best you could to make it interesting, but the “yawns” of boredom is what you learnt about the experience. The seeds of fear and humiliation have been sown!

So in work, you’ve disguised your fear. You’ve delegated the presentation to a subordinate member of staff because “it’s good for their development!” But those small business meetings demand that you to give a short introduction of yourself; you can’t pass the buck in this situation. This is enough to get you flustered and put your professional reputation on the line. And when you’re tenth around the business table, the time moves so slowly. You don’t even remember a word of what is being said by the other delegates. You are deafened by your own internal voice of worry. 

Even socially, you cannot escape the personal request from a loving family member to “say a few words” during their moment of pride. At weddings or formal occasions, there’s nothing like being expected to say a few “stammered” mutterings to ruin your day for you and lose your social esteem.


Why is the fear of public speaking such a problem?

Unfortunately with performance anxiety, when you are stressed and place too much importance on using a certain part of you, it’s that part that can “lock” and become dysfunctional. So the tennis player’s shoulder tightens, the pianist’s fingers become stiff and the singer’s voice becomes strained. It’s as if that precious part of you is fired with excessive nerve impulses and is out of control at the worst possible moment.

For the socially anxious public speaker, anxiety “grips” the ability to speak. The diaphragm muscle tightens making it hard to breathe. This causes your words to become stammered, misplaced and forgotten. Your throat can become dry and constricted. Your voice can become overly quiet or sound choked. In short, it’s an effort to get your words out.

But it’s not just the voice that is overwhelmed. The mind can be affected too. It can distort your awareness of time. The things you want to end quickly, take forever.  Waiting for everyone else to finish their presentation (so that you can start yours), can take an eternity. You then build up more anticipatory anxiety. But when you are giving your own presentation, your brakes have failed. It’s as if you are chasing a prize for the fastest presentation. In your confusion, you abandon your bullet points for a “speed-read” of your notes. Your eyes and head drop down into your script in desperate hope that if you can’t see them, they won’t be able to see you.

Stress can also affect memory and concentration to the level that you lose your purpose. You become forgetful, disorganised and distracted. Other phrases for the latter can include being “spaced out”, distant or self-absorbed. This can happen at any moment of the proceedings. Some get overwhelmed immediately before or during the presentation. But even after the presentation, the trauma keeps you in a daze for...days!

Another important issue for the socially anxious speaker is prejudging the audience as experts. You believe that they can see through your inferiority. You are convinced that they know more than you about your subject and you are about to be exposed as a fraud.

Fear of public speaking female graduate
Fear of public speaking: you think your anxiety symptoms are visible

If the presentation involves questions and answers, this will be the key moment of public humiliation. You believe you will be asked intellectually challenging questions that you don’t even understand! Never mind being able to remember the answers, the question is so complicated, that you remain petrified as if they’ve sent you an electric shock. So you stall for a repeated question because you have developed temporary hearing loss!

Not only do you believe that the audience know more than you, but you imagine that they have X-ray vision. They can see every symptom of your anxiety: the blushing, the excessive perspiration and the hand tremors. These are somehow caught on camera with a powerful zoom lens and are being broadcasted on a screen behind you. Even the internal anxiety symptoms e.g. heart racing, nervous diarrhoea and “jelly like legs” can be seen and judged as out of control.

Your fear of public speaking is contained in a higher negative belief that anxiety is a sign of weakness. This only serves to make matters worse for you. It prevents you from gradually working through your fear because you (wrongly) equate anxiety with incompetence. It’s a non-starter and you don’t feel very well!


Compounding your fear of public speaking with anticipation

The anticipation of something can be more traumatic than the stress of the actual event. When the notice has been given of the presentation, anxiety can weigh you down, causing you to procrastinate, cling to unhelpful comforts (food, alcohol, cigarettes etc.), lose sleep and generally become forgetful and distracted. Your heightened state of anxiety draws you deeper into fearing the worst on presentation day. The stress symptoms can then peak immediately before the presentation.

Contingency plans to proactively deal with what might go wrong are left open-ended as a vulnerable fear, rather than something that you can act on and make the situation feel safe. Stress levels can be so high that the moments before and during the presentation can seem like going through the motions on auto-pilot. Unless your presentation is recorded, there is very little recall of your experience.

Even after the presentation, the distracted emotional state makes you immune to absorbing any positive feedback. Regardless of whether it has gone well, your self assessment is still biased since you based your measure of success on the feelings of anxiety. You were anxious, so you must have failed. The presentation has traumatised you yet again and is something you must avoid if given the opportunity.


Fear of public speaking can be overcome
You can overcome your fear of public speaking

Breaking the fear of public speaking

Does this seem like part of your routine? For the socially anxious person, this is probably déjà-vu. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. The best way to deal with your fear of public speaking is to confront it, armed with some helpful techniques. You can tackle your fear of public speaking in small progressive steps. This will help you to focus on it as a series of skills that can be learned, rather than seeing it as a cycle of events that submissively drags you through a bush full of thorns.

Hypnotherapy can be used to control your anxiety, re-frame past traumas and visualise your confidence. My expertise as a qualified teacher/trainer will also help to ensure that you are using effective techniques that get the best out of you in your preparation and on the day of your presentation.

Looking for some more self help tips? Overcome your fear of public speaking with a series of public speaking tips.

Fear of public speaking: causes and treatment


For further information on treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff


Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking Cardiff: Definition

A fear of public speaking can be defined as a feeling of anxiety (prior to and during) any form of verbal communication given to an audience. It can also be termed as speech anxiety, presentation nerves, stage fright and glossophobia. Fear of public speaking is a form of social anxiety.  

Fear of public speaking Cardiff: Formal and Informal settings

A fear of public speaking can affect many situations both formal and informal. Most people can recognise the formal settings when you have given a talk using prepared material in school, college or your workplace. Other formal situations can include giving speeches at weddings, funerals and association meetings. A fear of public speaking in informal settings may not have previously prepared material but can have “rehearsed” content e.g. telling a joke to your peer group. Some speakers who rely heavily on scripted material can feel anxious because you are required to speak “unscripted” about you e.g. when introducing yourself at the start of a business meeting. Anxiety can also be experienced in seminars when “speaking from the heart” about a very personal issue, fearful that sensitive issues may be judged by other delegates. Stage performers can exhibit confidence as the “expert” singing or playing your instrument but you can also suffer some stage fright during specific aspects of your show. “Chatting” to the audience can seem daunting because you are making an informal connection with your audience. You don’t have your music or instrument to hide behind. For those with chronic social anxiety, the fear of drawing attention to you is enough to create a panic attack. So even giving an account of your holiday to a few members of staff in the staffroom and then finding the staffroom going quiet because everyone is “tuning in” can be traumatic. For the confident speaker, it can be difficult to appreciate what someone with chronic social anxiety suffers when when they have a fear of public speaking.  

Fear of public speaking Cardiff: Causes

With figures suggesting that a fear of public speaking is the most common fear in the world, it justifies the belief that very few people are “born” public speakers. If you are one of the minority that enjoys giving presentations, you are probably extrovert, are knowledgeable in your field of expertise and/or you have found a way of altering the perception of your fear. Any mild anxiety that you have experienced in your journey has been overcome with effective practise and by learning the necessary presentation skills. So why are some people more prone to a fear of public speaking than others? One or more of these issues could contribute to your fear.
• Personality types or traits
Anxiety - Those with general anxiety and social anxiety are more likely to have a fear of public speaking. You tend to worry and see the negative side of situations, believing that things will ultimately go wrong! You rarely get past your “what if...” scenarios. You struggle to cope with anticipatory anxiety, increasing your stress symptoms (muscular tension, loss of sleep, IBS etc.) as the presentation draws near. You then focus on these symptoms, believing them to be visible to your audience. This distracts you from giving your presentation. After the event, you deny any praise because your anxiety overwhelms your interpretation of the presentation. Perfectionism – You set excessively high standards in your presentation expecting everything to go flawlessly. You exhaust yourself trying to reach these standards and may neglect other obligations (and relationships) en route. You rarely delegate because you cannot trust the standards of another person. Any mistakes in your presentation are harshly criticised (mainly by you), causing you to double your effort next time. You then become more anxious about your ability to keep achieving perfection in the future. You are aware of how much effort the presentation took out of you in this attempt. You fail to accept external praise on your methods because the (often unobtainable) goal is all that matters. Lack of self-confidence – You distrust your own judgements and doubt your ability to achieve your goals. You tend to set low targets because you are risk aversive. You keep well inside your comfort zone because you have a fear of failure. This justifies avoiding the presentation in the first place. You are easily swayed by the opinions of others as you approach the presentation date. Rather than learning from your mistakes made during the presentation, you try to hide them because you are ashamed of them. You worry about the criticism of others but ironically, you are too embarrassed to accept their praise. Even if you did give a good presentation, you shrug-off the praise, claiming it was the work of others. Inevitably a lack of self-confidence can affect all that you do. You believe that you lack confidence in your presentation subject-matter. So rather than talking freely in your presentation, you worry that others know more than you. You believe that they will pick holes in your presentation and your lack of knowledge. Low self-esteem – Since you believe that you are not good enough, this perspective is projected into all that you think, do and say. Your presentation preparation is plagued by self-doubts; you are unsure whether the content is good enough. Your low self esteem may be directed onto parts of your body (low body esteem). Standing in front of an audience means that this part of you is in full view. It only serves to heighten your embarrassment. If you feel inferior about your voice, your anxiety will “strangle” any attempts to project it adequately. Fear of embarrassment – A fear of embarrassment belongs to the domain of social anxiety. The fear of humiliating yourself in front of your audience is your overriding worry. Your anxiety symptoms take over and become “visible” to your audience during the presentation. Amongst many symptoms, your hands shake, you become more forgetful and you “lose” your voice.
Fear of attention is a cause of fear of public speaking
You can feel self conscious with a fear of public speaking.
Fear of attention – Another issue that is part of social anxiety. You fear drawing attention to yourself or being stared at by others. You worry what people think or what they might say. Standing on a “stage” has few hiding places; a tall lectern might do the trick, but just being there causes you to feel self-conscious. As a coping method, you avoid looking at your audience. Ironically, they will stare at you more because they feel excluded. Your emotions are compromised because if your audience looked outside the window during your presentation, you would think that they are disinterested or bored. Fear of rejection – A person who fears rejection is likely to have self-esteem issues and social anxiety. Your deep need for acceptance puts you in the centre of any situation. You perceive that, if an outcome is favourable, then you are confirmed as good enough. But when the outcome is adverse, then you believe that you are unworthy. It is all “personal” because you have instilled this self-limiting belief. You dismiss the learning of any skills or the opportunity to grow through practise. You may have moments when you can “de-personalise” this rejection, but it ultimately slides back to you – the person. So in situations like presenting as part of an interview, you won’t take the risk because it exposes the fear that you may not be good enough; it exposes your fear of rejection.
• Previous bad experience
You learn from your experiences. But when an experience has been disastrous, your stress/anxiety responses become firmly attached to the incident. It re-surfaces when you anticipate tackling that same situation again. So when you’ve been ordered to give a presentation to cover an absent colleague at the last moment and know very little about the subject-matter, unsurprisingly the presentation goes wrong. If you are then fired on that unfortunate performance (harsh, I know!), this trauma causes anxiety to flood you when you need to give another presentation in the future. The bad experience has left its mark on you and set up your fear of public speaking! Not all learning is directly related to the situation. A fear of confined spaces e.g. lifts, can be attached to a fear of public speaking because indirectly, it is a situation that you cannot easily get away from when you feel anxious. You feel “stuck” on stage which indirectly reminds you of being in a lift.
• Inadequate preparation
Confidence grows with the knowledge of how to do something and successful practise. So when you are taught how to prepare and deliver a presentation, the belief that you can succeed will grow. When you are given your presentation title you are more likely to “do your homework” and prepare sufficiently to achieve the desired goal. However, when you are terrified of the outcome and have been left to do your own (ineffective) preparation, it is quite reasonable for anxiety to take over and avoidance to kick in. The person who then believes that you ought to be able to give a presentation “by now”, evades any methodical preparation. Panic sets in and nothing is prepared for the big day.
• You fear your audience
You give authority to the opinions of others. You believe that others have grounds to criticise either the content of your presentation or your credibility to be presenting it. So your mind is dominated by what they are thinking rather than what you can do in your presentation. You worry about the implications of saying something controversial or simply “messing up” and making a fool of yourself. You cram in too much information fearful that it appears incomplete. It is likely that you are trying to impress your audience and are overly-focused on their reactions. But you reject any potential positive feedback. You see a room full of people that are better than you, laughing at your comedy of errors! Since you doubt your own credibility (low self esteem), you are waiting for confirmation that you don’t deserve to be on the stage. You hesitate to “know your audience” in advance, because even if they are your peers or your subordinates, they have gone the extra length to research something that you know nothing about. You are ashamed to admit that you don’t know a topic in your presentation, so you try to bluff an answer. You are waiting to be exposed as a fraud. When you know that there is a genuine expert in the audience, your anxiety is overwhelming.  

Fear of public speaking Cardiff: Do you have a fear of public speaking?

Being apprehensive or nervous before and during a presentation is quite normal. If you give presentations on a regular basis, then it’s likely that you have overcome any acute anxiety symptoms. So what qualifies as a fear of public speaking? Firstly, you will have significant levels of anticipatory anxiety that dominate your life weeks before the presentation: • You are preoccupied with what you believe will go “wrong” on the presentation day. • You appear slightly detached, “daydreaming” about your worries. • Sleep is often disrupted and the quality of sleep can be restless. • You become more reliant on comforts e.g. food or alcohol. • Ritualistic habits dominate as you try to distract your mind from the anxiety. • You divert any practical attempts to work on the presentation by completing unimportant routine activities (procrastination). • You seek avoidance strategies to ease your anxiety e.g. delegate to a subordinate member of staff, postpone the date, feign illness etc. • Anxiety symptoms (see below) develop in moderate levels leading up to the presentation. You have a fear of public speaking if, close to the presentation day and throughout the presentation itself, you suffer with one or more of the following stress/anxiety symptoms at an acute level:
anxiety symptoms and a fear of public speaking
Anxiety symptoms can feature in your fear of public speaking
• Blushing • IBSPanic attacks affecting your pacing (tendency to rush) • Profuse sweating • Tachycardia (fast heartbeat) • Uncontrollable shaking • Stammering • Difficulty breathing (hyperventilating) • Dry mouth • Memory loss • Muscular tension particularly around the vocal cords affecting your speech. • Nausea • Feeling faint • Increased frequency of habits (fidgeting) • Feeling claustrophobic (confined to the stage)  

Treating your fear of public speaking

These are some common methods of treating your fear of public speaking and controlling the anxiety that inhibits you: • Self help methods - These involve gradually building up your confidence and skills giving presentations in “safe” situations. When starting, consider your ideal topic, audience and location where you can decide the conditions. In this chosen situation, making a mistake would be trivial. Think of it as a practise of a practise. For some of you it might literally start in front of the mirror. Public speaking tips can guide you through your early stages of learning. • Join a public speaking class – If your company is unable to give you training in public speaking, then you can learn the art from a public speaking trainer in a classroom setting. Public speaking skills are taught in groups and you will gradually build up to giving a presentation at the end of the course. If you are encouraged by other people going through the same experience as you, then a public speaking class could help your presentation skills. • Treat your anxiety through your GP – Anxiety can be debilitating. When anxiety affects your ability to communicate, then controlling it is essential for a fear of public speaking. Discuss with your GP how anxiety can be treated with medication. Depending on the severity of your anxiety, your GP may also be able to arrange counselling or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).  

How can hypnotherapy help you fear of public speaking?

Hypnotherapy can be an effective way of treating your fear of public speaking in a number of ways: • Control your anxiety – Hypnotherapy is a natural treatment. Once you have learnt relaxation techniques in the form of self-hypnosis, they can help you cope with your anticipatory anxiety. You can learn to utilise them during your presentation to reduce your anxiety symptoms listed above. When used strategically, they can also moderate the pace of your dialogue and assist with your voice projection. Hypnotherapy relaxation techniques can help you to appreciate how much your symptoms are part of an anxious cycle perpetuated by you own emotional state. By controlling your anxiety, you can develop your presentation skills without your mind being preoccupied with your symptoms. • Identify unconscious causes of your anxiety - The negative stored experiences in your mind can be indirectly associated to your presentations. These create spontaneous anxiety symptoms e.g. previously embarrassing yourself by falling over when you were in a crowd can be negatively stored as “crowds = anxiety and embarrassment”. You didn’t give a presentation in that past situation, but now you are anxious when giving a presentation because your mind is triggering the “crowds” link. When you are unable to identify why you are struggling with presentations, you will continue to create random anxiety symptoms until you can identify these causal events and releasing the negative emotion from then. Regression hypnotherapy can be used to facilitate this process. • Reframe direct past traumas – Past traumas caused when you have previously given presentations are the negative building blocks that pull your mind into your stressed awareness. Your mind stores these adverse experiences in an attempt to keep you safe from experiencing yet another trauma. Hypnotherapy techniques can be used to reframe the meaning of those traumas reducing your anxiety symptoms in your fear of public speaking.
Fear of public speaking and hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy can help you overcome your fear of public speaking
• Visualise your peak performance – You have probably been told to “think positively” by many people. But when anxiety and a history of past traumas shape your awareness, it can be difficult to visualise what you want to achieve. In hypnosis, your mind can readily accept suggestions and positive imagery. This can help focus your mind towards your goal and give your mind an imagined experience of a presentation that has gone well. • Change negative beliefs about yourself and presentations – Some of the causes of your fear of public speaking (listed above) can be quite deep rooted and self-limiting. You may view some these causes as overwhelming “facts”. By analysing these negative beliefs, they can be treated so that your mind can be more receptive to accepting positive suggestions. When these changes are reinforced with practise of your presentation skills, it can accelerate your potential to speak in public.  

Fear of public speaking: summary

Overcoming your fear of public speaking doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a determined and courageous decision to want to develop skills in the face of anxiety. By finding a “safe” audience to practise with, your confidence can grow as you learn to master your skills. Be prepared to make mistakes and persevere. Train your mind to role-play any character that deflects the attention away from you. Hypnotherapy can assist your fear of public speaking on many levels. As a qualified and experienced teacher/trainer and clinical hypnotherapist, I can help you develop your presentation skills and reduce your anxiety associated with your fear of public speaking.  

For further information on treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff and presentation anxiety in Cardiff, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff