Banish your fear in public speaking

What if I forget what I am saying?

What if they don’t think I’m credible?

What if they ask me something and I don’t know the answer.

So many questions can emanate from two words- what if.

But they all have one thing in common- Fear

Life is full of the unexpected and if we asked ourselves ‘what if’ every time we faced a challenge it would be hard to imagine us doing or achieving anything. And yet- we are willing to drive a car, fly on a plane, get married, have children, and grasp opportunity. Each of those examples has it’s own potential pitfall or ‘what if’ question.  However we do those things because at some point we have accepted that while something may go wrong, or we may fail, we see the ultimate benefit or outcome.

If we bring that back to public speaking – what is your desired outcome? What will have to happen for you to know you’ve done a good job- is it just getting through it without making a mistake? Or perhaps knowing that the audience could hear you throughout? That’s understandable, but is this the limit of your potential?  And more importantly why set yourself such a low bar?

The answer is two fold, but let’s start with the pictures you’re creating

What if I forget what I’m saying? This leads to a picture in your mind of you looking vulnerable in front of your audience. This escalates to hearing awkward silence, which escalates again to feeling really embarrassed because you’ve completely frozen.  Before you know it the picture has become so big it’s overwhelming. Your body doesn’t know that what your mind has created isn’t real, and you start to feel very nervous- anxious even. 

Now,  because you don’t want to feel like this, you suppress the picture and try harder with your content.

‘I’m a professional. Just concentrate on getting the content right, and it will be fine.’

Except, it won’t be fine. Because your subconscious never lies, and it has this nasty habit of screaming at you when you really don’t need it to. For instance when you now have 10, 100, or 1000 people looking at you and your neck has gone red, your palms are sweating, and you’re on the verge of forgetting your next bit. . .

It’s screaming- I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN.

While you wrestle with your subconscious, your delivery becomes robotic or monotone, and all the audience can see is you trying to avoid the presupposed picture you have created. Most importantly, your audience isn’t listening- because while you’re trying to not make a mistake you’re coming across as tense and perhaps even boring. 

Which brings us to our next ‘what if’.

What if people don’t like me or think I’m credible?  Well, if we put aside the fact that your picture of failure is projecting exactly what you don’t want, there is also another truth; that you’re assuming what other people are thinking and, even worse, taking responsibility for it. Whenever any of us is under pressure it’s very easy to turn our lack of self belief into judgement by others.

The thought ‘ I’m not sure how this will go’ quickly becomes ‘I don’t think people will like me’.

Let me be clear; you are not boring. You are highly qualified in your field and you have been asked to speak for a reason, because you bring knowledge and expertise. Remember that.

Let me be clear; you are not a mind reader. No one in the audience actually cares about you. No audience has ever turned up wanting the speaker to fail. Ever.  All they want is to listen to you. It’s vital that when you’re asked to speak you acknowledge this.

Speaking in public isn’t about getting it right, it’s not even about your content. It’s about you, and your ability to banish your fear and trust who you are; so your audience listen to you and not the content. To do that, you must understand what you’re choosing to focus on, and the affect this has on the pictures you create and blocks you put in the way of your own success. 

You can find problems in ‘what if’, or it can also help you achieve your desired outcome, because banishing your fear is where your greatest growth lies.

What if you had a system in place to help you banish your fear, so your audience listen to you and not the content?

A B.E.L.I.E.F System.

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

What is Confidence?

A while ago, when normality ruled. I went to see a comedy gig with a good friend of mine.  We got talking afterwards about the comedian 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.

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

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 process starts to emerge and a trust starts to develop in our given skill and with it our confidence increases.

But that only happens once we have committed to something new, once we are prepared to get outside of our comfort zone and grow. So how do we take that first step?

We must use resources within ourselves that reinforce the feeling of trust and in turn confidence. Like driving your car. You don’t think about it consciously – you just trust you can drive the car.  If we choose to place our focus on the negative resources of our fears and doubts – like failing at an exam – we then sit inside our own mind, unable to see our strengths. 

This mindset is hardened and calcified in difficult times or when we’re watching comedians thinking  ‘I couldn’t possibly do that.’

Well, how did you get in the car for the first time?

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 to gain confidence isn’t the preserve of the few, it is in all of us.

Is it there. It always has been, and always will be.

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

If this sounds familiar then please get in touch.

Working from home or Homework?

‘Have you done your homework?’

‘Er, sort of Miss.’

What does that mean?

‘Well, I started it but then my mum washed my school bag, and then the ink on the paper run. So I tried to dry on it the radiator, but it was ruined.

Ah, the dreaded homework.

We all remember the nagging Sunday feeling, waiting for our parents to bellow the words we wish they would forget. Or dreaming up the much needed excuse for the teacher in the morning. What is it that stops children just making a start or taking action? The reasons for this can be varied.  For some  it can be a lack of belief in a certain subject- particularly if they feel their peers are doing better. It can be difficult for them to motivate themselves if they don’t truly believe they can master it. There is also the natural variant of academic ability, and of course the actual interest or love for the subject. Children are also easily distracted by technology, having fun, or connecting with friends.

However the most pertinent point is the phycological element, home is where they relax, and switch off. They don’t naturally associate home with work, or pushing themselves.

Sound familiar. . .

So where does this leave adults in the current climate?

When so many of us are now being asked to work from home?

Have your childhood strategies about homework really left you? With no teacher or parent to push you-the need to self motivate and take action whilst in your place of comfort has never been greater.  What do you truly believe you are capable of? How much time are you spending are on social media looking at what others are achieving? Are you being distracted by something more fun or chatting to friends and family?

When you are working from home,  you have much more time to think, and more things to think about.  You’re not an just an entrepreneur, business owner or work colleague. You’re also a mum or dad. You’re a partner. You also have your own wants and needs. Therefore it’s vital to acknowledge that you can’t be all things to all people all the time. Moving between the many ‘hats’ you wear at home and being able to switch into work or business mode can be very challenging. It can easily lead to procrastination, distraction and ultimately a loss of productivity or quality in your work.

So- what to do about it? There are three key things to remember.

  • Knowing when to say no  
  • Commitment to the moment
  • Creating a headspace

The hardest part of working from home is knowing when to say no, and concentrating what you need to do in that moment. That moment can be in any of the hats you wear, just make sure that  whatever you’re doing – you commit to it! This will create a better headspace, which will increase your motivation, drive and ambition.  If you’ve had quality time with your children and partner you’re far less likely to feel guilty about working. When you really commit to your work in the moment, you will won’t be distracted by family time.

You are many things to many people. Knowing who you need to be, and when, is what’s important.

Now, what’s the dog done with my tax return.  .

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