Feed your trust in public speaking.

I trust you now dad.

This is what my daughter said to me on a recent holiday after she conquered her fear of swimming.

When she was a baby we took her to a swimming session, and she hated it. This experience lodged in her subconscious, and in the intervening years we’ve have had many disasters with trying again. I was guilty of pushing her to hard at times, such was my desperation for her to see the benefit and knowing how much she would enjoy it when she began to trust herself. I would sit for hours with her and talk about her fears, and go through step by step how I would help her. I would reassure her that she would be safe and I wouldn’t let anything happen to her. She would nod, and in her need to please would say how much she was looking forward to go swimming again.

Then the inevitable would happen.

There is a big difference between rationale and trust. Very often we can understand something intellectually, but until we ‘own it’ and find the feeling of trust for ourselves then the required skill is just a thought; and the thought can be dangerous because it’s so easy to talk ourselves out of doing it. How many times in your life, have you wanted or needed to do something and you have intellectualized the task, and then when you have tried it- been crippled by fear.

I think we all know this feeling.

This is hard enough with something like swimming, but at least no one is watching you while you’re trying to figure out how can you trust yourself.

In public speaking, there is no hiding place. All the attention is on you, and it can be very difficult to trust yourself and who you are when everybody is looking at you. You’re dealing with many things happening at the same time, content, clarity of voice, importance of the event, your own vulnerabilities, who is in the audience. It’s very easy to go into your head and while the words are coming out of your mouth, internally you are trying to either suppress thoughts or keep a conscious awareness of what you think you should be doing.

Until you can learn a system that will allow you to trust your subconcious and trust who you are under pressure then speaking in public will always be difficult. You may find ways to get through it. But is that the limit of your capability? You may find a way for people to hear your content instead of really listening to you. But is that what you want?

You are a lot more than you think you are.

The best public speakers, are able to trust who they are. They know their vulnerability is where their greatest strength lies- because this is where their true self lies.

Why is this important or even relevant? Because when somebody is comfortable in their own skin and is able to share who they are, it makes them instantly relatable. When we relate with someone, we engage and listen to them.

And what do you want from your audience?

That’s right – to listen.

My daughter has learnt a very simple truth, that she has projected onto me.

She doesn’t trust me now.

She trusts herself.

Identify your hook in Public Speaking.

Do you remember. .

Chalk hearts melting on a playground wall.

Ahh, Kayleigh – one my favourite songs.

It always reminds me of being at University with my friends and serenading them with my latest singing attempt. Music can do this to us, it can take us back to a place or time in our lives that has great resonance.  If the song really means something to us, we can go months or even years without hearing it, and as soon as we hear the first chords the lyrics immediately come to us.

It’s a funny thing our subconcious- it has this unique ability to store information.

This information works in two ways, it can be your best friend or worst enemy.

Whenever I speak to my clients the most common fear or worry for speaking in public is forgetting the content. I always find this interesting- because what is the disconnect here? I am working with successful people who are experts in what they do, so why does an auidence looking at them change what they already know.

The answer is – it shouldn’t.  . .

The disconnect happens because clients get trapped inside their head when is everybody is looking at them. They haven’t prepared for the moment just before they speak, or when they do think about it- fear kicks inn, which doesn’t feel good. So they suppress it, and in doing so block their ability to access their strengths.

This is your subconcious as your worst enemy.

Let me give you an example-

Emma rehearses her speech all week and becomes word perfect.  Yet when the moment to speak comes, her mind goes blank or she stumbles after not making a mistake all week.

Did Emma know the content? Yes

Did she trust that knew it?  No.

Why???

Because Emma isn’t actually worried about forgetting what she will say, she’s worried about the picture she has created. The picture is based on what forgetting looks like in front an audience, and how she perceives the audience may judge her.   She gets locked in an internal battle because she doesn’t want to acknowledge her vulnerability for fear of inadequacy.  So she suppress it and her true herself by just practicing more- and telling herself consciously that she will be fine.  The speech arrives and her subconcious reminds her of all the neagtive thoughts and feelings she has suppressed. She desperately scrambles to remember the content but is overwhelmed by the picture she has created becoming actualised. 

I’m worried I will forget my content – actually means I don’t want to look stupid.

I don’t want to look stupid is a picture you have created based on suppressing your vulnerability at doing something new.

Feeling vulnerable about doing something new is completely normal, and is where true growth lies.

So . . . .

What happens when your subconcious is your best friend?

Let me give you an example

Emma spends the days before her event, anchoring her subconcious with a confident resourceful state. Her subconcious then quietly gets to work on the all times she has felt confident. Whenever Emma feels doubt she triggers her anchor and her subconcious immeadiatley reminds her of the confident state and what she is capable of. She is still nervous, and knows she will be vulnerable but crucially she embraces this and doesnt suppress it because she trusts her subconcious will be there for her when she needs it most.

Do you remember. . .

Of course you do, and so does your subconcious.

Use it wisely.

How successful are you?

I was talking to somebody very close to me the other day, and we started to talk about her book. It is being developed as despite strong interest from agents it ultimately didn’t get taken on. I could sense her understandable frustration and I was eager to talk to her about what she defines as success for the book. So I asked her to give me a picture or image of what her future success looked like. Is it money in the bank? Amount of sales? Personal gratification? Peer approval? After a lot of chat, and a customary glass of wine.

She replied- ‘It’s seeing my book on the shelf in a store.’

So success to her is measured by the satisfaction of seeing her work published for public consumption.

Great.

But what happens if it’s not published and she doesn’t see it on the shelf? By her own thinking will she not be successful anymore?

How often in our lives are we caught up in the end goal? We chase success, but struggle to define what it means. Often I will ask clients to visualise their future, because if we don’t see it we can’t let our subconscious work towards it. But this is hard balancing act because if we place to much conscious importance on the image it can place unnecessary pressure to achieve it. Additionally it can mean we miss and ignore our own growth and development. We don’t focus on the skills we learning, or our resilience in hard times, we ignore the two jobs we may have done to support ourselves and our family. Each of these examples provides us with resources to better ourselves, but they are easily missed and crucially not built upon if we fixate on the picture in our mind.

Another glass was poured.

‘But I don’t agree that if the book isn’t published, I can still think of myself as successful’

The key to that sentence is the conscious insistence on her picture of success. It neglects her crafting of language, the emotional intelligence it requires to give characters a real voice, her resilience to not give up, the learning and development of her writing, her ability to promote herself and pitch an idea. Her increased self belief. Her ability to take her imagination and through hundreds of hours of work turn it into a tangible and highly credible piece of work. All of these skills are used to great affect in her other career. . .

But they don’t match the picture in her head so they aren’t recognised or given credence.

To want success is highly commendable. It shows motivation and drive but it mustn’t come at all costs. Nor should we lose sight of what success truly means. It’s about constant renewal and growth, it isn’t about who you know or what you can buy. It’s about what you have learnt, what you given, and what you can do next. Success (whatever the picture turns out to be) is the by product of hard work, resilience, and passion for what you love. It can come in small places, and sometimes it’s not what we thought or expected.

Maybe her picture of success will come true and the book will appear on a shelf.

Maybe it won’t.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter.

It’s about the journey she’s taken in writing it.

Who Cares?

Who cares about me?

It’s an interesting thought. 

When we think who cares about us, our attention naturally draws to those we are closest to, partners, parents, siblings, friends,  but we already know that – don’t we?   Why then do we spend so much time ruminating about what people think of us?  The often said line is –  ‘I don’t care what other people think.’ I’ll admit to saying it myself, and of course the truth is I am lying when I say this; I do care. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we all want to be liked and respected and I think it’s vital that we all carry a degree of self awareness, an ability to pause and reflect. However what happens when this becomes corrosive?  Lets explore an example; While we sit at home, our mind drifts to the difficult conversation at work. ‘Should I have said that?’  ‘They didn’t look happy?’  ‘How did I come across?’ 

The first thing to acknowledge here is this-

Nobody outside of your inner circle cares about you.

Wait. What?

How do we know this? Well how often do you spend time at home looking from the other person’s point of view, how they are feeling and thinking? The answer is hardly ever, because we are too consumed by our own thoughts, actions, and life. Therefore It’s not a stretch to safely assume that if you are doing this then so is the other person! This highlights another truth; we are naturally selfish with our thoughts, which leads us to irrationally presume the world revolves us. The idea that everybody cares more about me than they do about themselves. . . .

Really?

Let that digest for a moment as we go back to our example. We sometimes make mistakes, we may say something inappropriate, occasionally we have disagreements, and there will always be moments of vulnerability and self consciousness. However it’s vitally important in any period of self reflection that we quickly ascertain what we can and can’t effect.

Positive thought that you can effect- Were your actions well intentioned? What can you learn about yourself? Will this matter in one, two, or three months time?

Negative thought you can’t effect- What do people think of me?  Do people like me? Do they value and respect me?

We each have our own filters and values when meeting, working, and networking with others. What is offensive to one is funny to another. What is kind to one is needy to another. We can’t keep all the people happy all the time, so why bother trying? Go with what you know. You.  While you can never control or seek to control what other people think, you can acknowledge and trust who you are. If you ever doubt this, imagine what the people who really care about you would say.

Who care’s about me?

Only the people that matter.

If this sounds familiar, then please get in touch. I’d love to help.

F.E.A.R

I can’t do it mum, I’m sorry.

RIGHT!

Oh dear. This isn’t good.

This was a bigger reaction than usual, I knew she was upset this time.

Although to be fair, if you had come out of work, picked your son up from school, driven him to the dentist, put him in the chair ready for a tooth out, only to find ‘the poor little soul has had a change of heart’ you might feel aggrieved at a completely wasted afternoon too.  I sat in the waiting room trying to ready myself for one of my back teeth out,  a very fake smile started to appear on my face. I couldn’t process my thoughts and the image of the dentist with a drill and a hacksaw was only getter bigger in my mind. Plus I didn’t want to let my mum down. The Fear. Oh the Fear.

What is Fear? Is it what we imagine? How many times in our lives is our imagined fear much worse than the reality? One of my favourite acronyms is-

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

 I had a tooth out later in life, did it hurt? Mildly. Was there a dentist waiting to carve my gum open with a rusty scalpel. In short, no. What about the dreaded conversation with the angry partner, we rehearse what we are going to say all day- only to find they are sorry to. Maybe it’s the presentation at work, everyone will throw tomatoes at me and laugh at my ineptitude – only to see smiling faces and have the realisation that you were asked to do it for a reason. Fear carries a certain taboo, we’re not supposed to be fearful, or we don’t want to show it. This is because it’s where our vulnerabilities lie.

What happens though when we suppress how we feel?

Do our fears disappear? Or does our subconscious store it in our bodies for when we least want it be there. We pretend we’re not vulnerable, nervous, self conscious, or fearful and just when we want to show courageous we are. . . our neck and face goes red, our palms sweat, we can’t articulate what we are saying, our mind races, we fidget and twitch. This is your subconscious screaming …

YOU CAN’T LIE TO ME!!!  

I believe fear to be a completely understandable and powerful emotion, it is however irrational and stops us doing the vast majority of things in life. 

There is a saying in NLP ‘You know more than you think you know’ and what this simple but highly effective sentence challenges us to remember is our resourcefulness. As we all sit out and reflect in this difficult time, I ask you to think about when you have overcome fears in your life. How did it feel? Relief? Elation? Pride? The truth is we only feel alive when we are challenging our ‘fears’, when we are willing to take a risk or make a mistake. We may not always associate it with a pleasant feeling, but we certainly know when we come through it, and it gives us strength as we move on in life and we start to realise the only person stopping you: is you.

We drove away in silence from the dentist, my mind raced as I wondered what would become of this 10 year old boy with half a tooth still in his mouth. Would she abandon me by the roadside? Would I make it into school next day?

Turns out we just went home for bangers and mash.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch. I’d love to help.