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Public Speaking as Psychological Therapy

Storytelling, speeches and poetry performance are proven ways of reducing stress and anxiety. Public speaking is a great opportunity for people with mental health issues or long-term disorders to express their thoughts and feelings rather than suppressing them or sharing them online, which can worsen their condition.

In the online world where the majority of people under the age of 40 have social media accounts, everyone is a poet, comedian or storyteller, maybe without even knowing it.

Self-expression in the right way can be a positive tool for creative endeavours. Social media can be a platform for this, but people with poor mental health who communicate their negative personal thoughts and feelings online are sometimes seen as anti-social ‘preaching’, being a ‘keyboard warrior’ or an over-sensitive ‘snowflake’. With so much online conflict and negativity that arises on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, introverted people are best expressing themselves in a ‘safe space’ with likeminded people in their local community, free of judgement.

Many spoken word poetry events, comedy evenings or storytelling events are dotted around small public places in most towns and cities in the Western world. Social media is a good way to get involved in their small communities for the mental health benefits of face-to-face social interaction or to showcase talents in writing and creativity off-screen.

Events enable people to connect by using words in a way that can comfort, provoke thought, raise awareness about an important issue and create friendships with people who share similar attitudes and values or to discuss contrasting ideals.

The key aspect for the success of public speaking events is that the audience are listening and applaud performances. Speakers are almost always reinforced with applause to reduce their self-criticism and boost their self-confidence. Most introverts shy away from public events at first, but being encouraged to perform and is proven to be an intervention for self-esteem issues. The positive mental health impacts of public speaking in storytelling and poetry groups is obvious from the positivity of those who partake in those events.

People who perform in small crowds show how it made them feel on social media, so then the outside world becomes their place of creative expression rather than on the internet, where they can often be laughed at or ignored by outsiders.

Social media addiction stems from wanting to be heard and appreciated. However, it can lead to speech difficulties and real-life social isolation. Public speaking may be a remedy for this. Almost anyone with the ability to speak can tell succinct stories. By writing down a step-by-step story plan for their performance and practicing their routine, sufferers of varying mental disorders can excel in storytelling and become engaging communicators – both on stage and in their day to day lives.

Everyone speaks in their own fashion, but at most poetry nights or debate clubs all kinds of speech are accepted and encouraged. This is something that could benefit many people.

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