If you’ve ever had the experience of literally “feeling” people’s eyes on you, you can understand the power that a public speaker can have. A master of public speaking will appear calm, confident, charismatic and completely at ease in speaking with his audience. His voice is as level as if he were speaking to his own best friends (even though the audience may be complete strangers) his tone enthusiastic and generating interest in his subject and his body language will be important in his communication but not distracting from the content of his talk.

For those who have difficulty with public speaking, they will be lacking in one or several of those skills. It is often easier for those who become nervous at the thought of public speaking to identify their need for help in this area because they have a feedback mechanism which lets them know that something is not working as it should be. They get an uncomfortable nervous feeling, begin to sweat, their voice may become unsteady or their mind may go blank. These people can be easily treated to overcome their fears, the NLP fast phobia intervention can be used and hypnosis can help the patient see themselves reacting in a much calmer way in the situations that had previously caused them problems. Hypnosis can also be used to offer suggestions for new behaviours, ways of thinking and more beneficial things to focus on as well as provided the much needed rehearsal of speaking in public.

Others who are confident in public speaking but are not engaging as speakers may find it more challenging to identify their problem. They will have either been informed by an audience member that their presentations are lacking a certain zest or may feel a disconnection from their audience as they present- for example they may find that the audience do not have eye contact with them throughout their presentations or appear disinterested in the subject. There are advantages to using hypnotic suggestion in this case and in addition it is very useful to include some basic training in body language and gestures. I like to teach the “Satir categories” which are a series of physical gestures that give off clues about a person’s thinking and behaviour. These were discovered by family therapist Virginia Satir who labelled 5 different physiologies that she commonly saw demonstrated in her therapy room with families who were experiencing problems and conflict. She found that members of the family would unconsciously use these gestures causing the other family members to make assumptions about what the gestures meant and how they must be thinking and feeling when using the gestures.

These gestures can be used in public speaking trainings alongside voice variation techniques and key sensory based words. The gestures can be used to emphasise certain elements in presentations and to maintain the interest of the audience.

By Gemma Bailey