Visualization Scripts

Here is the basic visualization script used in most of the visualization studies cited in the book.

Close your eyes and allow your body to get comfortable in the chair in which you are sitting. Move around until you feel that you are in a position that will continue to be relaxing for you for the next ten to fifteen minutes. Take a deep, comfortable breath and hold it . . . now slowly release it through your nose (if possible). That is right . . . now take another deep breath and make certain that you are breathing from the diaphragm (from your belly) . . . hold it . . . now slowly release it and note how you feel while doing this . . . feel the relaxation fluidly flow throughout your body. And now, one more REALLY deep breath . . . hold it . . . and now release it slowly . . . and begin your normal breathing pattern. Shift around, if you need to get comfortable again.

Now begin to visualize the beginning of a day in which you are going to give an informative speech. See yourself getting up in the morning, full of energy, full of confidence, looking forward to the day's challenges. You are putting on just the right clothes for the task at hand that day. Dressing well makes you look and feel good about yourself, so you have on JUST what you want to wear, which clearly expresses your sense of inner well-being. As you are driving, riding, or walking to the speech setting, note how clear and confident you feel, and how others around you—as you arrive—comment positively regarding your fine appearance and general demeanor. You feel thoroughly prepared for the task at hand. Your preparation has been exceptionally thorough, and you have really researched the target issue you will be presenting today. Now you see yourself standing or sitting in the room where you will present your speech, talking very comfortably and confidentially with others in the room. The people to whom you will be presenting your speech appear to be quite friendly, and are very cordial in their greetings and conversations prior to the presentation. You feel ABSOLUTELY sure of your material and of your ability to present the information in a forceful, convincing, positive manner. Now you see yourself approaching the area from which you will present. You are feeling very good about this presentation and see yourself move eagerly forward. All of your audio visual materials are well organized, well planned, and clearly aid your presentation.

Now you see yourself presenting your talk. You are really quite brilliant and have all the finesse of a polished, professional speaker. You are also aware that your audience is giving head nods, smiles, and other positive responses, conveying the message that you are truly "on target." The introduction of the speech goes the way you have planned. In fact, it works better than you had expected. The transition from the introductory material to the body of the speech is extremely smooth. As you approach the body of the speech, you are aware of the first major point. It emerges as you expected.

The evidence supporting the point is relevant and evokes an understanding response from the audience. In fact, all the main points flow in this fashion. As you wrap up your main points, your concluding remarks seem to be a natural outgrowth of everything you have done. All concluding remarks are on target. When your final utterance is concluded, you have the feeling that it could not have gone better. The introduction worked, the main points were to the point, your evidence was supportive, and your conclusion formed a fitting capstone. In addition, your vocal variety added interest value. Your pauses punctuated important ideas, and your gestures and body movements were purposeful. You now see yourself fielding audience questions with brilliance, confidence, and energy equal to what you exhibited in the presentation itself. You see yourself receiving the congratulations of your classmates. You see yourself as relaxed, pleased with your talk, and ready for the next task to be accomplished that day. You are filled with energy, purpose, and a sense of general well-being. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Now—I want you to begin to return to this time and place in which we are working today. Take a deep breath . . . hold it . . . and let it go. Do this several times and move slowly back into the room. Take as much time as you need to make the transition back.

This script comes from Ayres, J.; Hopf T. S. (1989). "Visualization: Is It More than Extra-Attention?" Communication Education, 38(1), 1-5.

Interestingly, this script is even more effective when preceded by an educational component, for example:

One of the biggest reasons people fear public speaking is that they don't understand why they react the way they do. These people, many of whom aren't bothered in the least by talking in small groups or interpersonal settings, become petrified at the prospect of talking to people in a public setting. Our research suggests this fear is understandable but that people often overlook the basic cause of public speaking anxiety—negative thinking. Most fearful speakers automatically think thoughts like "Oh no, I can't give speeches; Everyone hates the speeches I give; I get so red everyone will know I'm nervous," and so on, when they are required to give a speech. These negative thoughts provoke a fear reaction which increases heart rate, sweating, and shaking. These physical symptoms often create behavioral disruptions (talking fast, stammering, etc.). These items in turn increase negative thinking and accelerate the process.

Compounding this picture is the person's inability to concentrate during the speech preparation and delivery phase. This lack of concentration can be traced to those intrusive negative thoughts. In preparation, for example, the person who is trying to pull a speech together finds himself or herself thinking things like "What's the use. I'll be terrible anyway."

The culprit behind public speaking anxiety is negative thinking. If one can control those negative thoughts then the consequent physical and behavioral disruptions should be greatly reduced or eliminated.

This educational script comes from Ayres, J.; Hopf, T. (1991). "Visualization: The Next Generation." Communication Research Reports, 8(2), 133-140.