Public Speaking takes practice. It’s an art form, you can hone the skills, you can increase your knowledge and abilities but at the end of the day you need to have confidence to deliver with aplomb. You can stand up tall, deliver an interesting speech, making eye contact with the audience the whole time but even if you deliver the speech word perfectly, if you aren’t feeling confident, that perfectly practiced speech is not going to resonate as much as the one that is delivered with confidence.
First let me explain why we don’t feel confident. It’s because of what we are thinking. We are worried that we are going to fail, we are worried what other people might think of us if do something stupid and we are worried that we will be ostracised. All we are truly afraid of is a feeling (failure, humiliation, shame, embarrassment rejection).
These are very normal thoughts. In fact our primitive brain has evolved to think those thoughts. Back in the day when we were hunters and gatherers, if we were socially ostracised, if we were kicked out of our tribe and forced to roam around by ourselves, it would almost certainly mean death. If we made a mistake, it might mean plummeting to our death or being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger. Our brain is designed to protect us and keep us alive. But the world around us has evolved and we don’t need protection in that way anymore.
Thankfully we also have a prefrontal cortex; the conscious, planning part of the brain. This part of our brain can critically analyse and decide what to think.
So if we know, the only reason we feel scared when we get up to speak in public is because we are afraid of a feeling, then we can decide how we want to think about it. We can rationalise with our prefrontal cortex, “I’m not going to die if I feel those emotions”. What if we went to the place where we were totally willing to feel those emotions? That is where confidence comes from. If we are willing to fail and feel embarrassment, shame and rejection, we no longer have anything to fear!
We can also use our prefrontal cortex to focus on what is important and what is helpful. It’s never helpful to get inside other people’s heads and make assumptions about what terrible things they might be thinking about us. Instead we can focus on our purpose. If you aim is to provide valuable content to help others, then focus on that!
And finally take a look inside your head, what is your honest opinion of your public speaking. Write it down. Get out all those nasty thoughts onto a piece of paper. Are they helpful? Then decide what would you like to believe about you? This is where I want to suggest that if you’ve written down “I suck” that you choose a thought that feels real to you. So for example, at first I practiced a thought, “I’m learning to improve my public speaking”. It’s neutral and later I can practice the thought, “I am improving my public speaking”, and later still “I’m good at public speaking” or “I love public speaking” and with that comes confidence. Of course you need to practice and hone those skills along the way, but being willing to fail is going to fast track you to confidence.
If this resonates with you and you want to know more about how you can get confidence in more areas of you life, I’d love to share it with you. Every week I offer two free mini sessions. It’s a phone call with me where I can teach you another amazing tool. It’s a no obligation call and if you want to find out more about working with me, I will be happy to tell you, but I only work with people who are ready. Sign up here, before the mini sessions get booked out! I can’t wait to speak with you!
Image by Miguel Bruna