What is Fear of Public Speaking?

Also called public speaking phobia, public speaking fear, public speaking anxiety, presentation anxiety, performance anxiety, and stage fright. In various surveys, the fear of public speaking is often ranked as the number one fear. Surprisingly many people will rank the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of dying.

Someone experiencing public speaking anxiety is feeling the effects of the ‘fight or flight’ response. The fight or flight response is our mind and bodies natural response to a perceived threat. The perceived threat itself may be physical or psychological in nature. (e.g. making a scene, looking foolish, not being liked or accepted, appearing weak, potential physical harm etc.)
When it is activated, hormones are released into the body to enable us to either deal with or escape from the dangerous situation.

The effects of the fight or flight response include an increase in our heart rate to pump blood faster to the lungs, muscles and brain. We breath more rapidly to increase our oxygen levels, our muscles tense ready for action and many functions not necessary for fighting or escaping, such as digestion or reproduction, slow or stop.

It is important to realise that all anxiety including fear of public speaking starts with our thoughts, and it is our brain that then stimulates the release of the various stress hormones. It is the negative thoughts we have about what is happening in the environment around us, or other people who are there, or our own bodily sensations, or even thoughts about our own thoughts that will start the anxiety response within our body, and keep it going.

In some ways our minds and bodies can’t tell the difference between the thoughts about a situation and the situation itself. Therefore by simply thinking negatively, worrying, or ‘what if’-ing about an upcoming presentation, speech or performance, you are activating the fight or flight response in exactly the same way as if you were actually experiencing it in reality.

Due to the way anxiety functions, you simply can’t fight it head on. You’ve probably tried that already and failed. In fact the more you fight and try to control the anxiety, the worse it gets! Could you imagine just how useful it would be for you to learn new and different ways to think and react so that your fears just faded away and no longer seemed a problem?

Symptoms of public speaking anxiety / performance anxiety may include:

Breathing difficulties

Excessive perspiration
Tingling feeling
Tightening of the throat
Light-headedness
Hyperventilation
Frequent need to urinate
Muscle Tension
Diarrhoea
Chest pain
Sweating hands
Sleeping difficulties
Headaches
Neck pain

Catastrophic thinking
Dissociative symptoms
Depersonalisation
Aching jaw
Extreme exhaustion
Lack of concentration
Feeling detached from body
Nausea and/or vomiting
Digestive problems
Fear of being ‘found out’
Pounding heart
Trembling
Short term memory loss
Fear of embarrassment

Ice cold feeling
Hot prickly feeling
Choking sensation
Intense heat
Indigestion
Pins and needles
Fear of losing control
Fear of making a fool of self
Fear of going insane
Fear of having a heart attack
Feelings of inferiority/ inadequacy/ weakness
Churning/burning stomach
Muscle pain
Sense of shame


NOTE: If you are suffering from any of the above physical symptoms then do discuss them with a doctor first to rule out any potential physical causes.

Common situations which often provoke public speaking and performance anxiety include:

  • Wedding Speeches
  • Presentations
  • Meetings
  • Interviews
  • Exams
  • Acting Auditions and Performances
  • Musical Performances
  • Speaking on the telephone
  • Being put on the spot
  • Centre of attention

Panic attacks

A panic attack may also be experienced as part of the public speaking anxiety or performance anxiety, and is an intense rush of very uncomfortable physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, inability to concentrate, and confusion. Which is coupled with negative thoughts about the situation (e.g. making a scene, looking foolish, not being liked or accepted, having a heart attack, not being able to breathe etc.).
Symptoms of panic attacks can include palpitations, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness or light-headedness, derealisation or depersonalisation, fear of losing control or going ‘crazy’, fear of dying, paresthesia, and chills or hot flushes.

 

The Public Speaking and Performance Anxiety Treatment

The treatment is available at the Manchester, Harley Street and Online practices and is custom made for your unique requirements. So the exact form of treatment and number of sessions will vary from person to person depending on your needs, the severity of the problem and any other complicating factors. Most people will usually need as little as 6 to 8 one hour sessions, for more deep rooted or complex problems, more may be required.

The overall aim of this process is to help you to experience a deep permanent change in how you think and feel about public speaking or performances. Which then allows you to feel more comfortable and at ease, and even enjoy situations which used to cause you anxiety and fear. During the process we will address whatever issues need to be dealt with to enable you to overcome your fears and anxiety. The treatment process itself is relaxed, sensitive, respectful and non-judgemental. I have had personal experience of overcoming anxieties, and therefore can fully understand and empathise with what you’re going through every step of the way.

Examples of some commonly dealt with issues:

  • Changing limiting beliefs and building powerful empowering beliefs.
  • Disassembling of the negative feedback loops, and self reinforcing and self sustaining aspects of the anxiety.
  • Changing your perceptions of others, and what you think they think of you.
  • Change what you feel about yourself and your abilities.
  • Building your self-esteem, self-worth and self confidence.
  • Emotional state management.
  • Learning to relax/ground/centre yourself so you can stay more in the moment.
  • Positively changing your perceptions of past events and future worries.

My Own Research:

Several years ago I completed a research project, modelling the thought processes of several successful performers. At the time I was terrified of any sort of public speaking or performance, and was very curious to find out how some people could remain so calm and comfortable, and even enjoy being in front of large groups. After interviewing the performers, I contrasted and compared their thought processes and behaviours, and distilled the information collected into a process that could be taught, with some guidance, to others like yourself. Through working with many clients over the years that followed, I have expanded and refined this process further and it now forms the basis for my successful work with performance anxiety and public speaking fears.

The treatment integrates my own research with a variety of therapeutic processes, including but not limited to Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), CBT, Psychotherapy, Mindfulness, Self-Relations, Transactional Analysis, Life Coaching and Stress Management which are individually recognised as highly successful ways of changing peoples behaviours and perceptions and I’m sure you can imagine the amazing benefits of combining these powerful processes, allowing you to quickly and easily change the thoughts, emotions and behaviours you currently have about public speaking and performances. So you just find yourself changing in beneficial ways.

What this treatment is not: The treatment is not a list of quick fixes, tips or tricks about public speaking. Nor is the treatment a ‘miracle secret’ technique that can be applied in moments that will somehow mysteriously and magically cure you of a lifetimes worth of anxiety without any effort. You can find that sort of ridiculous over hyped product and information on a thousand other websites, and may even have wasted good money and time on them without any real or lasting success. In those cases the old adage holds true ‘If something seems to good to be true then it probably is.’

In reality: There are rarely any instant fixes or magical cures, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t change, or that change is hard or takes a long time. All that is really required to change, is a little bit of commitment to your own personal growth, taking ownership of your issues, putting in some effort for a few weeks, and getting some helpful and realistic guidance from someone who genuinely has considerable professional and personal experience with with anxieties. Before you realise it you’ll be surprising yourself with what you are capable of doing.

 

When considering the rest of your life, what value do you place on your well-being?

I recommend booking an Initial Consultation first as this gives us the chance to begin to explore your issues and your requirements further, give you honest answers to any questions you might have and give you a realistic estimate of the number of sessions you may require.

NOTE: Before booking it is very important that you get any physical symptoms diagnosed by a medical practitioner or doctor to rule out any physical causes.

 When you are ready to make the inner changes you need, simply phone me on 0161 881 4333 or email to make an appointment now.