Mindfulness & the Art of Public Speaking

Why people need to link mindfulness and public speaking

“By learning to pay attention to your thoughts and actions in the moment, you’ll discover how to let go of old patterns and create healthier habits and ways of living that will make you feel good about yourself. And when you feel good about you, you can do just about anything.”
— Hugh Byrne

Mindfulness meditation or vipassana is a practice inherited from the Buddhist tradition that has been practiced for more than two millennia. It is often used as a technique to lower stress but has many other beneficial applications. One of those is performance enhancement: mindfulness techniques have been used to improve concentration and performance in skilled activities from archery to tennis to playing a musical instrument.

Jim Lofton and Hugh Byrne* have combined their skills to develop a unique course that teaches how to use mindfulness techniques to reduce your stress level and improve your performance when delivering a public presentation.

Delivery, or how you say what you say, is first and foremost in oratory. If you can’t deliver your message with confidence, in a way that is memorable, understandable and persuasive, your audience will not absorb your message—no matter how profound the substance, no matter how well you have structured it.

We will cover techniques, practices and exercises that will allow you to train your body, your brain and your voice to deliver a presentation with confidence and passion.

Here’s what the course will cover:

  • What is mindfulness? Three key elements of mindfulness: (1) intention, (2) attention, (3) attitude
  • The benefits of mindfulness from scientific studies
  • How mindfulness helps in reducing stress—learning to tolerate difficult emotions and mind states; bringing awareness to thoughts and not believing them; coming back to the present moment; training the mind. How habits form and why they can be difficult to change
  • The role of mindfulness in changing habits—bringing the unconscious to consciousness and choosing how we act and respond
  • Developing the habit of mindfulness—through meditation and in daily life

Other techniques for managing the adrenaline surge:

  • Adrenaline and the time warp
  • Using silence as an ally
  • Getting in the zone
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Using breath to cultivate acceptance, curiosity and tranquility

* Hugh Byrne, PhD, is a senior teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC. He has practiced meditation for 30 years and taught mindfulness meditation since 2000. He completed a four-year mediation teacher-training program with Jack Kornfield and other senior Insight Meditation teachers. He also trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Somatic Experiencing, a mind-body approach to healing trauma. Byrne holds a law degree from London University and a PhD from UCLA. Prior to becoming a full-time teacher of meditation, he spent decades working on behalf of human rights and social justice in Africa, Latin America and the United States. He is the author of The Here-and-Now Habit (2016), a book on how to use mindfulness to change unhealthy habits and nurture behaviors leading to greater health and happiness, and of Habit Swap: Mindfulness Skills to Change Habits for Good (2020), a deeper dive into ways to let go of unhealthy habits and develop more beneficial ones.