There you are: knees vibrating like an alarm clock, heart beating so fast it feels as if it could burst, your hands are clammy, your voice is quivering.Is it a life-or-death situation? No, it’s only a public speaking experience.

Sound ridiculous? Not if you’re one of the millions of people affected by this phobia, which ranks ahead of all others in the U.S. As a practicing hypnotist, I’ve done more sessions for stage fright than I can count. Is it a miracle cure? No, but it works better than any other remedy I know about. And, for the vast majority of sufferers, a combination of hypnosis and regular speaking practice, like Toastmasters or speech class, can turn a "white-knuckled" speaker into a poised and relaxed one.

Once hypnotized, a person with stage fright might never become Tony Robbins, but they will generally stop dreading the experience.

So what causes some people to dread speaking in public, and others, like me, to be complete hams? From the cases I see, it all goes back to childhood. In most cases, the fearful speaker had to stand up in elementary school and recite something, usually when they were just learning to read, but it can happen in puberty too, when hormones are raging. The speaker gets laughed at or, even worse, ridiculed. Then s/he begins to avoid speaking experiences. Avoidance turns a fear into a phobia.

The reasons I believe hypnosis to be so effective at helping a person let go of stage fright (or any phobia, for that matter) are these:

1. In the hypnotic state, the person is more open to suggestion. Where once they would have been repulsed by the mere thought of speaking publicly, in the hypnotic experience, they can speak before others "virtually" (the same way professional athletes practice mentally before a game.)

2. A good hypnotist will anchor some positive experience to public speaking so that the client no longer sees speaking as unpleasant. For example, if their favorite place is the beach, the hypnotist might suggest imagining they are at the beach and getting into that state of peacefulness before they begin to speak.

3. In hypnosis, the client learns to let go of fear and relax their body. All experience is less fearful when the body is relaxed and the mind is at ease. By it’s very nature, fear is the opposite of relaxation. (Try feeling fearful and laughing out loud at the same time.)

4. Finally, hypnosis works through the subconscious, which is the "operating system" of the mind. All phobias are stored in the subconscious.

Here are some simple but powerful exercises you can use on your own to reduce stage fright.

Breath: Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing. Breathe in from the Diaphragm to the count of 6. Hold it for 3. Then breathe out to the count of 6. Do this 10 times twice a day to relieve anxiety. Also do deep breathing before any speaking engagement.

Body: It’s hard to be nervous when you put your body in a confident position. Stand as if you are fearless and you create that reality. Also, sit in whole brain posture: ankles and wrists crossed, to get both halves of your brain working together.

Anchor: Associate public speaking with: your happy place, your safe place, your favorite color, an empowering word to create instant feelings of relaxation prior to your speaking engagement.

Affirm: Use positive affirmations, but for best results, use them while you are in an altered state of consciousness, like that produced by self hypnosis. Always make sure your affirmations are: positive, present tense, and in language that has an emotional charge for you. For added impact, turn them into a song. For example, say to yourself "I am a relaxed, confident and inspiring public speaker. People love to hear me speak." Then imagine, with all your senses, that these statements are true.

Visualize: This is the BEST way to do goal setting that I know about: What is your goal regarding public speaking? For example: Is it: "I want to be able to give a speech that is entertaining to my audience and remain calm and relaxed while giving it by __________ (fill in the date)"? Now, What will you see, (hear, feel) that let’s you know you have achieved it?
*V = Visual smiling, clapping audience
*A = Auditory audience members telling you "Great Job!"
*K = Kinesthetic feel relaxed, peaceful, confident If public speaking is an issue for you, I urge you to push past your fears and try these simple exercises.

My career is devoted to helping people break through their fears. In future articles, I’ll address other fearful topics. If you have one of particular interest to you, please feel free to contact me.

Author's Bio: 

Kathy Moore, MBA, BCH, is a hypnotist and motivational speaker working in San Antonio, Texas, since 1999. Her specialties are working with anxious people, smoking cessation and surgery prep and recovery. In 2008, she began teaching pain management and stress management techniques to nurses and other medical practitioners at two hospitals in San Antonio and plans to expand that portion of her practice.

You may also enjoy information and articles on her website at or blog, Or feel free to try free hypnosis sessions on her youtube channel at