As a hypnotist or hypnotherapist, it is often important to be able to confidently and effectively talk to groups of people, both small and not-so-small. Not everybody is a naturally confident or competent group speaker, but these five tips will help you along the way to more effectively delivering brilliant group hypnosis presentations and engaging hypnotherapy talks.
1. Prepare for the event and prepare yourself
Preparation is key for many public speakers…even experienced public speakers. Now maybe you don’t yet think of yourself as a public speaker, but if you’re speaking to people, whether you know them or not, in order to improve your business or sell your services, then for all intents and purposes, you’re a public speaker.
Firstly you need to prepare your stuff. What do you need for the presentation/talk? Do you need notes or flash cards? How about props? Handouts and leaflets can be important and can help people to better understand your message. If you’re speaking to a large group then AV equipment may be required, who’s sorting that out? Are you recording the event for future re-purposing? These are all things that you may like to consider before your talk.
Once you’ve sorted the ‘stuff’ out, then you need to prepare you. You can’t just turn up late wearing ripped jeans and a three-day-old t-shirt. What clothes are you going to wear? Dress to your expected audience. How are you getting there? What route are you taking? You don’t want to be late to your own speaking engagement. Are you taking someone with you? Get the logistics of your event down, and that’s one less bunch of things to worry about.
Some people are great at ‘winging it’, making stuff up ‘off the cuff’ and absolutely nailing it, first time. As you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume you don’t (yet) fit into that category. Write down your talk, whether in long-hand or in bullet point form. Then you need to practice. Practice reading it a couple of times first, just to get a feel for it, and then practice reading it in front of a mirror, so you can see how you look while you’re talking because a big part of effective delivery is YOU. People will be watching you, so you need to be a part of your own narrative, rather than robotically repeating a script that you’ve memorised.
Once you’ve practiced, then practice some more. Practice in your car, practice at the gym (quietly), practice in your head… Mental rehearsal is a brilliant way to put in solid practice time and really get to grips with your task. Make sure you stay connected to the process, and don’t drift off into some pointless daydream or scenario where ‘something has gone wrong’. Practice positively, and it will be all the more effective!
3. Know your stuff and be prepared for questions
Generally when you’re talking about something, it’s a good idea to know about the something you’re talking about. If you have gaps in your knowledge then it could be a good idea to plug those gaps where possible, and where relevant to your own profession. If you are delivering an engaging presentation, people may well have questions for you, and if you can’t answer those questions, how do you think that will reflect on all the stuff you just said? Pretty badly.
If there are questions that you could answer, but you’re not 100% on the details, or questions that need a hugely long winded response, and would bore all the other people listening, then you can tactfully side-step the question and have the person contact you at a later time. Or, you can offer to email further details to anybody with an interest (after you get a chance to go home and gather your thoughts on the issue). Bottom line, be prepared for as much as you can, because people think in different ways, and they often throw a curve ball when you’re least expecting it!
4. Be yourself
It’s fine to ‘model’ yourself on a respected orator, politician, lecturer, or whatever, but you must always remember to be yourself. Audiences will pick up on incongruence, and if you are speaking/acting in a way that is not true to you, then the people you are presenting to will pick up on that on some level, whether consciously or subconsciously. When that happens, you will automatically lose rapport with your audience, or some of them, at least.
By all means work on improving yourself, and work on adding specific techniques, patterns, mannerisms, etc. to your own repertoire, but make sure that if you are going to do this, you do it fully and completely, so that these changes become a natural part of who you are and how you act, react and interact. The audience, however large or small, is there to listen to you. The least you can do for them is be congruent to yourself.
5. Reflect on your performance afterwards
There is always room for improvement, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned public speaker. I know stage hypnotists who have performed hundreds, even thousands of shows, but they are constantly searching for ways to fine tune and tweak their performances, changing a word here, a phrase there, a gesture somewhere else… As you progress with your public speaking, there will be less things that need to be changed, but don’t get complacent. There is always room for improvement.
To effectively reflect on your performance, you can play back the event in your head, you can take an audio recording (turn on the voice recorder on your phone before you begin), you can even video your presentation for the purpose of playing it back to see what you did right and what you did that could have been done better. If you take a recording, you can have your friends or peers watch the recording so you can get different, objective perspectives. By doing this you learn what works and what doesn’t, and you will naturally become better at talking, presenting and feeling more and more confident as the focus of attention in front of a group of people, whether large or small.