In life, there are situations that can cause us disproportionate anxiety. Public speaking is one of those situations. Fortunately, I have a simple trick for you. I’m going to teach you how to set yourself an anchor (here’s a video if you need more support). What’s that? Anchors are external stimuli that trigger a particular internal state or response.
The way anchors make you respond at an unconscious level can be positive or negative. To illustrate what I mean, I’m going to share some well-known anchors, and some of mine – how I have set anchors and how I’ve reframed others.
Anchors can be sights (e.g. a certain place), sounds (e.g. songs), touch/feelings (e.g. a stroke on your arm), smells (e.g. an aftershave/perfume) or tastes (e.g. a flavour that you experienced in the context of a situation or place). Symbols such as the Cross, the Om sign and globally recognised logos, such as FedEx are simply anchors.
I will share a positive anchor that I use for confidence before speaking engagements, which I set myself in 2005 and is still as effective now, almost 12 years on. During my NLP Practitioner course, the trainer asked what kind of anchor I would like to set. I felt that ‘Confident’ would stand me in good stead for any kind of public speaking, since I had started to do a lot of it.
Setting an Anchor
First of all, I decided what kind of positive state I’d like to be in and decided how I would set my anchor (in my case, by pressing my left thumb and index finger together). I then closed my eyes and regulated my breathing, taking slow, deep breaths.
When I was in a fully relaxed state, I recalled a time in the past when I’d been in that state. I thought of a time when I’d spoken at a conference on Diversity, had received a standing ovation and a number of people had come up to me afterwards for my business card.
I then re-lived it as vividly as possible by amplifying the experience and the feelings connected to it in my head. I kept upping the feeling to the point where it was about to reach its peak. At that point I pressed together two fingers on my left hand to set that feeling as an anchor. Then I let the feelings subside, focussed on my breath once again and slowly opened my eyes.
The anchor that I set is discreet and I’m able to use it whenever I want to feel extremely confident. I have another one for feeling joyous. It’s important to be consistent by using the same anchor (i.e. same fingers or tap in the same place) each time.
You can set anchors for interview or first date confidence, handling a difficult conversation – whichever situation you need it for.
Releasing Emotional Connections
Positive anchors that I didn’t consciously set are songs by Kings of Leon and Warwick Avenue by Duffy – for differing reasons, but they make me feel great.
Negative anchors – hmm…In the past, when I used to see an Audi Estate my stomach would flip. I always thought it was a certain person that I didn’t want to see. Seeing a car of the model and colour that person drove made me feel so anxious.
I released this through desensitising myself to the anchor by disassociating with it (a good job, since in a bizarre twist of fate, my dad now owns an almost identical model). This is about learning new habits or responses and requires being in a strong state, so it might be something you need will support with.
Have a go and remember, there’s no need to be disheartened if it doesn’t work the first time. Your subconscious is a powerful tool – you may need a few attempts or some support from an experienced NLP practitioner.
A bit about me: Your voice is your power. Let me help you be be heard.
If you’d like more confidence in public speaking, networking or even in your day-to-day communications, I can help through workshops or 1-2-1 coaching. Trained in public speaking and media handling, I have a range of tools and techniques to support you.
To arrange a discovery call, email email@example.com.