Peter’s Fear of Public Speaking
Peter, a computer programmer, came to ask for my help to overcome his fear of public speaking. He was working in a software company and part of his job involved giving presentations to his co-workers or the company clients. For many years he had managed to find different excuses and ways to avoid speaking in front of a group of people. However, his luck caught up with. He was faced with a dilemma. He had to give a presentation or he could lose his job. He could no longer avoid his dreaded fear as he was being forced to face it.
As soon as he realized his usual strategies wouldn’t work, he had straight out begged his boss to have someone else on the programming team give the presentation. But his boss was tired of Peter’s excuses so he had no choice but to give the talk. Although Peter was referred to me by one of my former clients who had successfully overcome his anxiety, Peter was still very skeptical when I told him that I could help him to overcome his fear of public speaking. And that I could do this in just few sessions.
“I have suffered this problem since my youth”, he protested, “I’ve always avoided public speaking because I’m a shy guy and the fear just paralyzes me. My mind goes blank and I tremble and get dry mouth.
His skepticism grew even more when I told him that I could help him banish his fear with maybe one or two sessions.
After listening to his detailed account of his problem, I had him practice a simple exercise right then in front of me. Then I asked him to do an exercise at home for a week. Since he had nothing to lose, he agreed. Although he was skeptical, he was also eager at the possibility of overcoming his life-long fear. I told him the story of a similar person I had helped: an executive in a multinational company who I had helped in just two sessions. I reassured Peter that most probably he would also need only two sessions to be free from his fear of public speaking.
I should explain that I’m not always able to help people overcome their fears and phobias in such a short time. Every case is unique and depending on the nature of the problem I may need some more time. However, sometimes when I look at the structure of the problem, I can tell from experience wtih similar or identical cases, that it is possible to get rid of phobias, or in this case, fear of public speaking in just few a sessions.
After our first session I told Peter that he was ready. But he did not believe me. I saw him one week after his presentation. Peter was totally bewildered that he had overcome his fear in such a short time.
He confessed, “As soon as I stood behind the microphone and started talking, I realized that things were going very well and that feeling gave me a confidence that lasted until the end of my talk. The presentation was a total success and I’m very happy.”