Establish your authenticity in Public Speaking.

You don’t really mean that.

This thought is constantly with me, when I ask my partner something and I feel she is holding something back.

I ask the question and she replies yes. However her tone, intonation and body language tell me otherwise. I heard the answer and yet I didn’t because I’m focusing on what she didn’t say.  What I’m describing here is someone’s subtext or what’s implied but not said.

It happens to all of us, all the time, but how often do we say what we’re really thinking?

Hardly ever.

The reason is simple, our thoughts are for ourselves- they are our own private space where we can criticise, fantasise and day dream. Our thoughts also govern how we feel. If I ask my partner the same question on different days – I may get a yes each time but the subtext of each yes will be different depending on what she is thinking about in that moment.

This is also true of longer conversations, how often have you stopped listening to someone? You have read their subtext and started to switch off; because as they’re talking you know they’re holding something back, or trying to come across as somebody they’re not?  Your face is pointing at them and pretending to listen, but you’re not engaged because they can’t or won’t connect with you.

So we know as a listener how easy is to switch off, but what is happening when the roles are reversed and you’re talking- why do you hold back, or over compensate by trying to be somebody you’re not?

Well, firstly- you have programmed yourself to only share the bits you want with the people you want. Which means most people only see a small part of who you really are.  Secondly, even if you do want to share with your inner circle,  you are still acutely aware that what you say could leave you feeling vulnerable. And what’s the first thing you do when you feel vulnerable? That’s right, pretend you don’t feel vulnerable.  So it feels easier and more comforting in the moment to suppress who you are. 

If we take this into speaking in public then- what are you faced with?

A group of people looking at you waiting for you to speak. . . .

Perhaps you don’t know them, or want to make a good impression so your subconcious programme kicks in- and they only get the bits you want to share, profressional you, sensible you. But your audience is struggling to listen because they’re reading your subtext and they know you’re suppressing who are you. They’re getting distracted by your tone, intonation and body language. They’re pointing their face at you but they’re thinking – this person doesn’t look comfortable, they look tense and nervous. 

When this happens the audience stops engaging with you.

They still hear what you’re saying, but they’re not listening.

Big difference.

Whenever you speak to an audience you are always looking for a connection. You may think no one wants to see your vulnerability, you may think no one wants to see the real you, but you couldn’t be further from the truth.

Think about your favourite comedian- why are you laughing? You’re laughing because you find them relatable. You’re laughing because it feels like it’s just them talking to you- like a friend or relative. They’re making you feel like that because they are sharing themselves and their vulnerabilities.

Now, I’m not suggesting a career in comedy- I’m merely using it as an example to illustrate the point.

If you suppress who you are for fear of showing weakness, you’re missing your best chance to connect with your audience.

If you share who you are, your insecurities become instantly relatable because your audience see themselves in you and they engage more. The more they engage the more they listen.

Tell your audience you feel nervous.

Let them see you’re not perfect, because they aren’t either.

Don’t hold yourself back.

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.

Who do you think you are?

‘Just relax.’

That little pearl of wisdom came from my other half when I couldn’t sleep in the early hours recently. It can be very difficult to get to sleep; a racing mind and an inability to switch off and just relax. We often lie in bed consciously thinking we are relaxed, then we bring our body or face muscles into conscious awareness and we realise we’re holding tension.

Your body never lies.

If we take that further, how much of your day do you spend thinking or telling yourself you’re doing ok, while in reality you’re doubting yourself or suppressing who you really are?

What if your thinking was invigorating and not damaging?

There can be misconception about thinking too much. We tend to see it as corrosive and damaging. It can affect your sleep, mood, and your ability to find perspective. However these things are the effects of your thought process and not the cause. Do we feel like that when we’re really concentrating at a job we love, or preparing our favourite meal?

What if you spent the day focusing on your strengths, and not your fears?

What you fear depends on what you believe about yourself in a given circumstance. Your beliefs then affect your thinking, and your thinking affects how you feel.  We manifest scenarios that only exist in our mind, and they can have a positive or negative effect.

A friend of my mine has a very good job, she believes she is very good in her role.  When she gets in the car it anchors her subconscious mind into a belief system she has created. She think about her day and she starts to feel feels confident, assured, and backs herself. Her mind is full of thought all day and she is relaxed because she acts according to what she believes. Home is fraught for a number of reasons, she has created a different belief system.  She finishes work and gets back in the car, she starts to think about what awaits her and can feel the transition from confident to anxious, assured to restless.  She consciously tells herself she is ok, but she gets home and her mind is full of thought again, she isn’t relaxed because she acts according to what she believes.

The same person. Feeling very differently about themselves in the same day. Caused by two different thought patterns, from two separate belief systems. Can she be more calm, measured, and confident in her decisions at home? What would that bring to her growth and development?

Imagine not having to fear the transition, not feeling like a prisoner to a self imposed mindset.

Your thoughts are a resource, they can be used to fill the tank or drain it. 

Who do you believe you are?

Now, time to relax.

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch

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.

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.