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5 Techniques For Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking

For many of us, fear of public speaking is an everyday reality. Striking up a conversation with a stranger often goes quite well, but having to speak during a meeting is far more difficult. Even the thought of a round of introductions breaks many people into a sweat, and if they have to give a speech, many of them contemplate driving their car into a tree.

But this is not the fear of only a few. American research (Burnley, Cross and Spanos) shows that more than eight out of ten people suffer, to a greater or less degree, than the fear of speaking in public. Four out of ten people place fear of public speaking in the top three of their personal fears; often even above the fear of a terrorist attack or the fear of death.

Psychologists refer to the fear of public speaking as an irrational fear; a fear of something that is actually quite harmless. The bad news is that possibly eighty percent of the human race is afraid of something that they need not be afraid of. The good news is that an irrational fear can easily be overcome. Benjamin van Spijck has developed a method by which the fear of public speaking can be quickly and completely overcome: Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking.

'Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking' is a 21-day program with which anyone can overcome his fear of speaking in public. The program is based on a unique combination of relaxation exercises, psychotherapy techniques and neurological insights. It is exactly this combination of techniques that makes this program more effective than traditional methods. The techniques used are described below.

Cognitive restructuring is a technique used in cognitive therapy, one of the larger movements in psychotherapy. Cognitive therapy is a form of therapy that is based on the idea that psychological symptoms or problems stem from the way in which people select and process information. Cognitive restructuring is based on the fact that a person with an irrational fear does not so much react to a situation itself with fear, but to the way in which he interprets that situation. In other words, to a large extent an individual himself defines whether or not he sees something as a problem, and how intense that problem is for him.

That defining occurring in a fraction of a second and is often based on a whole complex of twisted ideas. With cognitive restructuring, people learn to replace twisted ideas with realistic, positive thoughts. Through insight and practice, people learn to understand that fear is not a rational reaction to (the thought of) public speaking. And just by understanding that already creates a great feeling that the fear is diminishing. And then the course participant is ready for the next step: imaginary exposure.

By means of imaginary exposure , feelings of fear will also practically disappear. It is a technique used in behavioral therapy, a second important movement in psychotherapy. The basic principle of behavioral therapy is that undesired behavior is learnt and can, therefore, be unlearned. With imaginary exposure, the course participant benefits himself to situations that evoke fear, not in reality but in imagination, in the safety of his own home. It begins with a situation that is the least fearful and gradual, when the course participant is ready, builds up to situations that terrify him. By breaking through the avoidance, fear gradually decreases and the participant becomes used to what are for him very difficult situations.

As the participant's fear decrees, the desire to try speaking in public grows, which is something that, until now, he has often avoided. The participant will, therefore, have to become familiar with a technique that will help him tell a story or give a presentation in a natural way. Mind mapping is such a technique.

Mind mapping is a way of organizing and recording information that well suits the human brain. With mind mapping, information is not linearly stored, as we are used to, but is stored in a logically structured and, as much as possible, visual manner. Neurologists agree that this is a better way of clearly organizing and remembering information. By making a mind map, the presentation is actually recorded as a film in the brain. During the giving of a presentation, the speaker can link outlines and details in a very natural way. Presentations can be given confidently from memory because the information has been stored in an effective manner.

Visualization is an important part of the psychological training of top-class sportsmen. They prepare themselves mentally for a match or competition with this technique. Before the competition, they repeatedly visualize the event, and in that visualization they see themselves performing well. The mentally practice an explosive start that immediately puts them in the lead. They imagine the forceful punches they will deliver. They feel the skilful goals they will score and they enjoy the crowd's cheering. By doing this they build a healthy, positive tension in their minds.

In addition, they mentally work on their skills by frequent repetition. By applying this technique to the mental preparation of presentations, speakers learn to build positive tension under which they optimally perform. So, from that moment onwards, no more crippling stress but measured, positive tension that better helps the speaker to perform. Furthermore, visualizing success builds skills so that during the presentation the speaker has time and energy for interaction with his audience. To be able to do the exercises for overcoming the fear of public speaking, it is important that the participant will be in a state of complete rest and calm. As well as yoga breathing,

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is also used for this. With this exercise, that uses muscle physiology principles, a state of deep relaxation can be reached. All the muscle groups are individually tensioned and relaxed and complete relaxation is achieved. By logically following the training program, which is based on the combination of these five techniques, anyone can overcome their fear of public speaking. In 21 days, in the safety of their own home. Speak comfortably and confidently in only 21 days.

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