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.

Locate your confidence in public speaking

A while ago, I went to see an event with a good friend of mine.  We got talking afterwards about the speaker on show.

‘I couldn’t do that.’ Remarked my friend.

Why?

Because I’m not confident enough.

Something immediately struck me about this comment; it was said with an absolute assuredness.

And yet- what is confidence? Is it how we present ourselves externally, or something deeper?

We often mistake apparent confidence for insecurity. Do you know somebody who loves to talk about where they have been, what they do for living, or how much money they have? What’s important to remember here is, who are they telling?  This is not confidence, this is ego talking borne out of insecurity.

So . . Something deeper then.  

Confidence is about trust- not the intangible and wavering feeling but in one’s own resources.

Clients will often say to me, In some ways I’m really confident and in other ways I’m shy. The key thing to acknowledge here is the self realisation that the feeling of ‘confidence’ does exist; otherwise how do they recognise it?

I put this thought to my friend.

‘Yes, but getting up in front of people to speak is totally different to what I do normally’

Well . . yes. . of course it is. However, how do any us gain confidence in what we do? We learn, we make mistakes, we hone, we make more mistakes, and after a while a system starts to emerge and a trust starts to develop in our given skill and with it our confidence increases. But that only happens once you have committed to something new, once you are prepared to go outside of your comfort zone and grow.

So how do you take the first step towards locating your confidence?

You must use the resources within yourself that reinforce the feeling of trust and in turn confidence. What if you could take the feeling of confidence in something you excel at and move it into something where you don’t trust yourself yet?  Feeling confident or not isn’t about your ability to do something outside you’re comfort zone.  It’s about where you choose to place to your focus. The best public speakers didn’t start by thinking I will be amazing, they started by thinking – it’s ok if I’m not amazing. To think in this way means the person doesn’t expect excellence initially, but is willing to trust their own resources to become excellent.  

Let’s look at an example-

Person A- is a doctor and has been asked to speak to a large group, they’ve never done this before and don’t feel confident.

Ok, so what resources or strengths might be transferrable to help remind this person how capable and confident they actually are.

Speaking to patients, leading a small team of junior doctors, the knowledge that they studied for several years demonstrating resilience and achievement.

Very quickly a different person starts to emerge, a person who has used their confidence throughout their life and continues to use it daily.

If you choose to place your focus on negative resources such as your fear of failing, or worrying if the auidence will like you,  then you will sit inside your own mind, unable to see or access your confidence.  This mindset will harden and calcify in difficult times or perhaps when watching fantastic public speakers thinking  ‘I couldn’t possibly do that.’

Our sense of possibility only narrows when we don’t trust ourselves, and our confidence diminishes when we don’t acknowledge our own resources. 

Trusting your own experiences and strengths to gain confidence isn’t the preserve of the few, it is in all of us.

Your confidence is within you. It always has been, and always will be.

Whether you choose to find it,  is up to you.

Hide and Seek

Sometimes; when the mood strikes I break into a strange form of dance. It has no name or origin and might be better described as a collection of movements. When the moment comes my family recoil with a mixture of horror and amusement, and it doesn’t take long for them to lovingly remind me I have two left feet. This of course only encourages me, as I descend further into the depth of my imagination and inner clown.

We all have parts of ourselves that we only share with a chosen few. It maybe your funny little dance  or any other of your idiosyncrasies, but you’re happy to let go and be vulnerable because it’s a safe environment where you feel safe and loved.

However.

How many of us are willing to share our uniqueness with colleagues or strangers? This can be for good reason, we may feel we need to conform to the company ethos or what is expected of us. You want to be professional. Fine.

But look a little deeper and what is happening here is indictive of what we do in life generally. You suppress who you really are as you try to control what others think of you. This stems from a lack of trust that you are enough.  

This is particualrly pertinent when you have to do any form of public speaking in your job. You fall back on old patterns which hide your vulnerabilities and uniqueness as you strive for respectability from others. It becomes very difficult to listen and engage as all you’re concerned about is masking how you really feel. You speak in your telephone voice, you body language changes, your vernacular changes.

You change.

So what is the difference between being professional and sharing yourself?

Professionalism is a necessity, without it there is no discipline or structure to your work.

Sharing who you are is a necessity, without it you can’t listen and connect with people.

The truth is, you need both to succeed. I often talk to my clients about a relaxed concentration. It is the ability to know your stuff and trust it, but more importantly it is the ability to communicate it with ease, warmth and charm.

The ability to share when it matter most.

We are all individual. We are all unique. We all have something to share. The only thing that separates us is where we place our focus.

So the next time it’s your turn to speak-

Remember your funny little dance, remember what makes you- you.

I’m here to help- get in touch.

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.

What can I do?

These are testing times

From panic buying at the shops, to job insecurity and school closures. No one knows what the future  holds and the sense of everything changing rapidly can be overwhelming.  We are getting a constant news stream of what is going wrong, and what may go wrong. It’s very easy and entirely understandable to emotionally  ‘invest’ in the news. However what is said and what we hear can be two very different things. It’s very similar to our reaction to is happening and what may happen. Let’s look at panic buying as an example. At no time has the government said they plan to close supermarkets, indeed they have gone to great lengths to insist there is enough food for everybody, and yet we still see daily pictures of ransacked shelves. Are people not listening? What prompts somebody to buy more than they need despite zero threat to their food supply? The answer lies in the pictures we create. When we watch the news, it feeds our anxiety and we start to create a future in our mind where we are left bereft of food. The actions that follow are carried out because we think that will keep us safe from our own irrational fears.  It will keep us safe from a future that only exists in our head. Of course the reality is it creates a social tension, a sense of ‘every man for himself.’ Our energy is then spent on anger and derision at the actions of others.  Haven’t we enough on our proverbial plate without creating internal angst at the actions of others? It’s vital we deal with what IS happening and not what MAY happen.

So how do we decide what is worth our focus? How can we become calmer and more resourceful in times of stress? What would society look like if we didn’t escalate beyond the facts?

Firstly we need to accept our place in the order of things. Unless we work in the higher echelons of government we’re very unlikely to be able to shape policy and change the way others behave. So why invest our energy? Secondly we must acknowledge what can we directly effect, or in other words, what is in our control? Our minds don’t tend to do well when they’re carrying a lot of information, especially if that information is corrosive to our well being. Thirdly, ask yourself who is responsible for your thoughts and actions? As individuals we are very capable of making these decisions, and the more we concentrate on what is truly important the more resourceful we become. Lastly, and most importantly we need to be able to switch off, guilt free. This doesn’t mean pretending everything is OK, far from it.  It means giving your head a rest so it’s as healthy and calm as possible for the coming months.

Look after today, and tomorrow will get better in time.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch.