Today I presented on the power of blogging to an audience of 60 business owners. And I didn’t vomit. Or cry. Or turn the color of a freshly slapped face.
Quite an accomplishment! Well, maybe not for you. Maybe you do that every day. I, however, do not. Or at least I didn’t used to.
As of June 2012, I had “gotten much better” at public speaking, but still blushed like a child, stammered a bit, and experienced a tightening of the throat that always made me deathly afraid that I was going to cry in front of my colleagues (pretty much worse than death as far as I’m concerned). I could hold my own with enough preparation time, but off-the-cuff remarks in large groups or (God forbid) an impromptu presentation remained unseemly. And let me tell you, being a marketing professional without public speaking skills is not ideal. Not even a little bit.
Being a type-A personality with perfectionist tendencies, I HATED how my body responded to being in the public eye. I felt like I had no control over my tongue, throat, face, or the inevitable fidgeting that ensued. But I didn’t know how to eradicate these reactions. I tried breathing deeply. I tried picturing everyone in their underwear (NOT a good idea for someone with a sharply honed imagination and a blushing problem). I tried keeping a small object in my hand to fidget quietly. Nothing really helped though. Until I came to Omega.
My husband had gifted me a weekend workshop experience at the Omega Institute at the end of June 2012, sending me to the middle of blissful nowhere to relax in the serenity of nature and attend a hypnotherapy workshop with Brian Weiss, whose intriguing books I had been devouring since I was 13. Between kayaking on the gently rippling lake and participating in the most relaxing walking meditation around a koi pond, I found my voice.
On the second day of the workshop, Weiss conducted several group hypnosis sessions. One such session was geared toward helping us to eradicate fears. He asked us each to identify a particular fear we experience and to dissect it while under hypnosis. I identified my fear as that of judgment. While I was in the calming state of hypnosis, he asked us to see what our fear looked like. Mine looked like a frenetic ball of living black twine, writhing and pulsing with a kinetic energy that looked like pure discomfort. It didn’t look good.
Throughout the session, Brian Weiss asked us to talk to our fear and to understand why it exists. And then to let it go.
Huh. Let go of fear. It’s easy to say in the waking state. But in the hypnotic state, it’s also easy to do. So I did. I let it go. And when I came back to waking state, I immediately wanted to test it out (typical marketing mindset…results, results, results!).
So I raised my hand and asked for the workshop helpers to hand me a microphone. I stood up. Put the mike to my lips. And talked.
I didn’t stammer. I didn’t sound like I was going to cry. And my face didn’t catch on proverbial fire. I spoke clearly and confidently about my fear of public speaking as it related to my fear of judgment and explained that I wanted to see what happened if I tried public speaking right then and there. Then, I smiled. And I sat back down. It had worked.
In the year since that workshop, I have taught a class on writing for artists, presented at networking events, and shared my business goals in front of large audiences. Sometimes I forget that it doesn’t bother me anymore and I get all tightened up at the thought of public speaking. But then I remind myself that it’s ok now and go about my day. And if I slip and find myself worrying about external judgment in my daily life, I give a stern talking to to that little ball of black twine in my mind until it goes slack and I go back to the task at hand.
Today, as I looked out at the 60 faces before me and spoke clearly and confidently, I couldn’t help but think about Brian Weiss, the Omega Institute, and the incredible weekend that gave me back my voice.
© 2013 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies