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Mindfulness For Public Speakers & Leaders

Mindfulness is practice of moment to moment awareness of one’s subjective conscious experience. It is the intentional, nonjudgmental awareness of the moment. In this first of a series of mindfulness, we’ll explore some of the science behind mindfulness and its impact on public speaking and leadership. Although the most common form we see in practice today arose from Buddhist roots – our practice here isn’t tied to any particular religious tradition. In fact, mindful awareness has a long history in many practices such as prayer, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and many more. Many wise people came to the correct conclusion even before its rigorous scientific study. In the last 40+ years there has been an emergence in scientific study into the benefits of mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness Benefits

Numerous studies have extolled the benefits of mindfulness meditation practice. It is scientifically proven to aid in a variety of psychological and physical conditions such as anxiety & stress reduction[1]][2], drug addiction[3] and even PTSD[4]. As if that weren’t enough it also has been proven to improve our sense of empathy/compassion[5] and elevate our sense of and understanding of self[6].

Another interesting fact is that the consistent practice actually causes enduring changes in the structure and function of the brain. These traits and capacities are an outgrowth of the practice of mindful mediation.

Mindfulness practice increases the ability and control of higher order functioning of the brain of the pre-frontal cortex and lessen lower order brain activity. Neuroimaging techniques show these positive changes in the physical brain[7] and its correlated behaviors. In essence, mindfulness mediation changes the brain and behavior in a most positive sense. The even more wonderful aspect of this is that the changes are sustained over time. Research suggests improvements in attention skills, body awareness and emotional regulation[8].

The methods of mindfulness have been deployed within the educational system, with prison populations, with patients. Companies of such as Apple, Google and Sony have embraced mindfulness mediation training to realize its various benefits. It is an effective, scientifically proven way to improve and positively impact performance and leadership outcomes. It is a key building block to improving social and emotional intelligence and its skill worth mastering.

Mindfulness for Speakers & Leaders

In terms of public speaking our students gain increased sense of focus (attention), improved by awareness and emotional awareness. At the most fundamental level they find they are able to face the fear of public speaking and go beyond it. Alongside the variety of other science based training techniques students learn to understand the underlying factors that led them to fear speaking and how to overcome it through a variety of practices – mindfulness meditation among them. Leaders learn the
skill for improved insights into the social, emotional and interpersonal challenges they see on a daily basis. Mindfulness gives a leader a capacity to see beyond the immediate, envision the big picture and more quickly solve a variety of leadership challenges. Mindfulness is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the public speaker & leader. How will you use it? Take a moment to review some of the links to learn more for yourself. Please leave your insights and comments below or join or newsletter for insights like these in your inbox.

1. Chiesa & Serretti (2009); Shapiro et al. (1998); Chang et al. (2004); Kabat-Zinn (2003).
2. Khoury B, Sharma M, Rush SE, Fournier C (Jun 2015). “Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis”. J Psychosom Res 78 (6): 519–528.
3. Garland EL (Jan 2014). “Mindfulness training targets neurocognitive mechanisms of addiction at the attention-appraisal-emotion interface”. Front Psychiatry 4 (173).
4. Follette, V. M., & Vijay, A. (2009). Mindfulness for trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder. In F. Didonna (Ed.), Clinical handbook of mindfulness (pp. 299-317). New York: Springer Science + Business Media.
5. “Mindfulness meditation and explicit and implicit indicators of personality and self-concept changes”. Front Psychol 6: 44. 2015.
6. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10550887.2014.991657
7. Posner MI, Tang YY, Lynch G (2014). “Mechanisms of white matter change induced by meditation training”. Frontiers in Psychology 5 (1220): 297–302.
8. Hozel, B.; Lazar, S.; Gard, T.; Schulman-Olivier, Z.; Vago, R.; Ott, U. (2011). “How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms of Action From a Conceptual and Neural Perspective”. Perspectives on Psychological Science 6 (6): 537–559

11 thoughts on “Mindfulness For Public Speakers & Leaders”

  1. Very insightful post. I never really gave much thought on meditation as far as public speaking goes but this makes a lot of sense. I try to do meditation myself for anxiety and stress but I can see how it can effect social fears and anxiety the more you practice. I am going to give it a try because public speaking has always been hard for me.

  2. I love your articles, they are so useful and interesting at the same time. I like that you have added all references, so I can read about this subject more. I have some troubles with public speaking and I belive that mindfulness should help for me, so I will try to do my best and to practice it more and more.

  3. I went to a seminar for public speaking a few years back and the man hosting it said that being in the moment, no matter how scary it may be, is the best thing you can do. Just being all there and taking it in for what it is. If you try to avoid it in your mind, you let the fear win.

  4. I spent many years dealing with public speaking issues. It started for me in middle school actually. I had one bad experience with it and I couldn’t let it go so the fear kept me from doing good in school, specially where I normally would have been a straight A student. Fast forward to making it out of college alive some how last year (I took one year off, no school no work), I manged to land a job opportunity a few weeks ago. Problem is I bombed it because of my public speaking issues. I just didn’t know what to say or do with myself. That led me here. I am very happy to have found your blog and I will be signing up for the newsletter. Being mindful makes sense but only when you can clear your mind of fear. I really valued this read and I will be back. Thank you so much Joseph.

  5. Great talk, lifted my spirits a little from my depression. Will try to constantly think about my thoughts in this way throughout the day. I also discovered that a way to mentally visualize the distancing of your thoughts vs. being in your flow of thoughts is comparing it to showing a picture roll in full screen vs. looking at the pictures in normal screen. Thanks Joseph

  6. Nice article admin. Mindfulness practice has tremendous potential for increasing well-being, overcoming emotional suffering and improving communication. Mindfulness meditation, when applied to the mind, where we learn how to meditate on our anxiety, fear, depression or anger is one of the most exciting recent developments in psychotherapy.

  7. To me, Mindfulness is a very powerful tool for healing emotional suffering and for making life come alive by learning to be fully present with each moment of experience, externally or internally. This brings about healing, transformation and liberation.

  8. I really liked what you said how having mindfulness meditation training are an effective, scientifically proven way to improve and positively impact performance and leadership outcomes. My cousin is looking for a speaker for his employees for a conference he’s planning. Thank you for the information about how mindfulness is a key building block to improving social and emotional intelligence and its skill worth mastering.

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