Mindfulness For Public Speakers & Leaders

Public Speaking Breathing Exercises

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

Joseph Guarino is a professional public speaker, trainer and owner of the Institute of Public Speaking a Boston based international public speaking & leadership training organization. As a seasoned public speaking trainer & professional speaker he enjoys helping other succeed in this worthy and rewarding craft. The Institute of Public Speaking offers a variety of public speaking courses for individuals (1 on 1 training), executive speech coaching, one day public speaking bootcamps, advanced public speaking bootcamps and public speaking seminars for corporations & groups of any size.
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