CONDUCTING A GROUP SESSION

Robert Otto, C.HT.

 

[Robert Otto has worked in the field of Mind Dynamics for over 20 years, having conducted in excess of 4,500 workshops and seminars. He is director of The Institute of Dynamic Hypnoses. I (Durbin) consider Robert to be one of the leading group hypnotherapist in the nation. Speaking on behavior modification to as many as 150,000 people in 29 states, he is considered by his peers to be a "World-Class Presenter" He is the recipient of numerous awards in the field of human potential, including the prestigious "Outstanding Faculty Member" Award for 1997 from the National Guild of Hypnotists, He was inducted into the International Hypnosis Hall of Fame in 1996 and in October 2001 was awarded the title of "Diplomat" by The International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association. On a similar note, Robert was recently elected to the IMDHA Board of Directors. For more articles and information on Robert Otto go to his website: http://www.robertottohypnosis.com  and you can email him at rotto@epix.net  ]

There is so much more to conducting a group seminar for hire than getting up in front of an audience and speaking. Being proficient and knowledgeable in your perspective field is not always enough. In fact, it is quite the contrary. In order to effectively conduct a hypnosis seminar for the general public, there needs to be planning, strategy, foresight, and paying close attention to each and every minor detail, from the room set-up to closing the session.

In my twenty plus years of conducting group hypnosis sessions, I think that I must have encountered everything and anything that could possibly go wrong at least once. In hopes of eliminating some of the everyday disturbances for you and in attempting to save you literally thousands of advertising dollars, it is my sincere desire to share with you some of my tried and true methods for creating an atmosphere that is conducive to hypnosis almost anywhere.

The Ideal Room Set-Up: First and foremost the necessity of a clean room is essential. By clean room, I mean it must not only be hygienically clean, it must be free of odors as well. You would not want to conduct a stop smoking session in a room that was previously occupied by a room full of smokers! And likewise, you would not want to conduct a session for weight reduction in a room located directly adjacent to a kitchen where they are cooking up some savory, palatable dishes.

You have to pay particular attention to the access of the room for handicapped individuals. Our society pays special attention to the handicapped and rightly so. It is in the best interest of your session to allow ample space to accommodate the handicapped.

The placement of the chairs needs to be in line with the size of the room. Determine if there needs to be aisles between the chairs. You also need to determine the placement of your registration table in advance. Check to see the availability of providing a water station for those attending. I have also established an appropriate room temperature for an overall comfort level. This is determined by the size of the group. Naturally, more people in a small room setting requires a lower temperature setting than using a large room with very few people in attendance.

The overhead lighting in the room can have an impact on how the group responds to you also. Studies have indicated that the lighting or absence thereof in a room can produce very different effects on those attending.

Check the position of all doors entering or exiting the room. Make ample adjustments for the handicapped. Be certain that you will have no unwelcome surprises once you've started your session. Do your best to ensure that the room will be quiet and uninterrupted for the duration of your session.

Be certain to reserve the correct size room for the group you are expecting. There is nothing worse than reserving a ballroom size room and having only a dozen or so people in attendance. And on the flip side, reserving a room to accommodate a dozen people, and having 60 or more want to attend your session can be equally disturbing. That certainly is not in the best interest of your clients or your pocketbook! You must also remember to allow ample space for coats, jackets, and rain gear if the weather calls for it.

Be certain to check the windows in the room. Make sure that you have proper ventilation, and that the curtains or shades provide you with the correct room lighting and privacy. Make reservations for a white board or overhead projector if you deem it necessary. Determine where the restrooms are in case of an emergency.

Personal Appearance: In order to command respect from your audience you must look and act the part of a professional. Pay special attention to the way you are presenting yourself. Are your shoes polished? Clothes properly pressed? No rips, tears or bad seams in any of your clothing?

Remember, these people have come to you for professional help and you must always maintain professionalism about you while up in front of an audience. You can rest assured that they are checking you out from top to bottom. Make sure that you have a fresh haircut or style. No outlandish styles of dress or loud colors. If you are a woman, make certain that your hemline is an acceptable length. You want the audience to focus on the quality and content of your lecture...not your hemline. The same rule applies for after shave, cologne or perfume fragrances. Easy on the splash! Many people are allergic to strong colognes or perfume.

Sound Equipment: I have always abided by the rule of KISS. "Keeping It Simple Stupid." There is no need to get carried away with expensive, intricate sound equipment. What I use is adequate for the job at hand and affords me good sound quality without a lot of cumbersome sound equipment to break down at the evenings end. You need good speakers for consistency in sound, and a good microphone that is complimentary to your vocal tones.

It is also personal preference to use trance music. I personally have created my own trance music with the corroboration of one of the finest professional musicians in the country. When you are first starting out, creating your own music is the last thing you need to be concerned with. You can purchase good quality trance music that is royalty free and have top notch trance music at your disposal for a nominal fee.

Initial Introductions: Remember that hypnosis begins the moment you open your mouth! Leave your personal problems and worries at the back of the room. Put on a happy face and create a mindset of professionalism at all times. You must achieve and maintain complete control of your audience at ALL TIMES. If you do not succeed at maintaining control, you will lose the respect and admiration of the entire audience. Refrain from breaking the momentum of your lecture by telling the audience that you will be more than happy to answer any and all questions that they have AFTER the session. Well-meaning family and friends are also a consideration that needs to be addressed when working with a group audience.

Starting Your Lecture: I have found that giving a complete, yet simplified explanation of hypnosis to the audience to be most beneficial. The participants appear to have a more intense and concentrated focus during the actual hypnotic session when a good explanation of hypnosis is administered. It is essential to explain to your group, what hypnosis is, what it is not, what they can expect, how they may feel, and what they WILL NOT feel. Give them examples of how it feels in each of the trance states. This will eliminate any misconceptions and fears that they may be harboring and are fearful of addressing. Stress the importance of trance level for behavior modification. Give them a good explanation of the conscious mind versus the subconscious mind. Explain to them how habits are formed and what you can do to help them achieve a state of good health and well being.

The Group Session: I have personally found that working with an assistant while conducting a group lecture is most beneficial to not only myself, but the audience as well. You never know what condition may surface. An assistant can handle a variety of incidentals that don't necessarily require your expertise. He/she may offer assistance to a participant, handle any outside or obtrusive influences, greet your clients upon registering, answer many Aoften asked@ questions or simply be a cheerful, friendly face to ease the anxiety of a fearful participant.

When starting the hypnotic session, you may want to choose whether or not the use of a modality for eye fatigue is suitable for your audience. Additionally, as is my custom, I always make my way to the back of the room. This is where I remain until the session has ended. No participant can be comfortable knowing that someone is in the front of the room staring at him or her. To many individuals, this could be frightening and somewhat unnerving. I also incorporate suggestions that are passive and dominant in nature thereby appealing to the majority of my audience. Dimming the lights if possible is another way of creating an atmosphere that is conducive to hypnotherapy.

Wrapping It Up: I always use the same microphone at the end of the session that I used during the session for continuity. You may also want to immediately scan your audience. (This is also another reason for working with an assistant). Look for anything or anyone that may require your attention. Once you have ascertained that all is well with the group, recap the lecture and give final instructions to those who may have missed something. It is also my custom to offer water to the participants at the end of the session. I also suggest reinforcement tapes for those who wish to purchase them. The purchase of a reinforcement tape is not a mandatory part of my program, however, tape sales can boost your profits dramatically. And most participants feel the need to go home with something, so why not an audiotape of a session that they can use repeatedly once they leave the comfort of your seminar?

(Robert Otto name Diplomat of IMDHA 2001)

(Robert Otto wife Linda Otto, a wonder lady. No wonder Robert is so successful. It is all Linda's doing.)