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" when you believe you have something worthwhile to contribute –
speaking becomes less daunting "
Dear Goddess Of Public Speaking...
" You may remember me from coaching me in 2003! I now have two jobs. I am the dedicated person for one role which means I have the sole responsibility for speaking out about it. The other job is new and at a higher level than I am accustomed to. I am someone who thinks better after the event than during the event, and am by nature introverted, so attending meetings where I am required to contribute is daunting. It is often (if there are strong personalities or lots of people in the room) like waiting for the right time to jump into the skipping rope. The other worry I have is not being able to say anything at all, let alone at the right time! Consequently I spend time in meetings in an anxious state. This is public speaking of a different sort. Can you please advise me? " L.R., WEB EDITOR.
" Speaking Lessions From The Matrix "
Of course I remember you. How are you? Congratulations on your duel roles. I'm going to start by summarising what I think is your current dilemma:
You have 2 jobs both of which require you to speak up and represent those roles. And one of which takes you out of your comfort zone, requiring you to operate at a higher level. As a result of feeling not in control of the new roles and wanting to step up but not sure how, you feel quite anxious and are consequently less effective than you can be. The problem is internal (within you) not external (technical skills).
Is that right?
Actually this is the kind of public speaking dilemma I am asked about all the time. I only coach occasionally people who are going to give a key note conference speech. I mostly coach people just like you.
I feel that most of your query is concerned with the big topics of self confidence, self belief and presence – when you believe you have something worthwhile to contribute – speaking becomes less daunting. I’ll give you a few tips here L.R. to get you started in the right direction:
Our Very Own Matrix
Since you know you are less effective at speaking off the cuff – the key is to prepare – prepare your notes and yourself (see the two previous e-news issues) – and get to know the meeting agenda ahead of time.
Be clear about your role definition – what exactly do you need to know, say and convey to professionally represent your 2 roles? When it’s clearly identified, there is less space for the overwhelming boogie man and you have clear data to deal with. Often it’s not as bad you imagine and it is something you can very quickly come up to speed with. If not, you at least have established where to start.
Establish trust and rapport with people before the meeting begins. This makes it easier to interject into the conversation as they will make room for you. Do this via email, phone or face to face. In other words, seek to build personal and professional relationships outside of meetings and formal occasions. Even if it's just a "Hi Suzi, I'm interested in your topic today and looking forward to hearing more about it. See you there, L.R."
Holding the space and holding your ground – this builds confidence, slows you down to become more present and is very attractive to others. When you feel scattered and unsure, you sound scattered and unsure.
A movie analogy springs to my mind - one of the last scenes in the first film of The Matrix when Keanu has stepped outside of the system, (because he is the system - oohh ahhh!) and the bullets slow down and fall harmlessly away. In fact he plucks them out of the air.
Being fully present with others is kind of like that. Time slows and you become aware of infinite possibilities, not just the one track, fear track of "Oh no, I need to say something at this meeting and I can't get a word in and I hope they don't think I'm shy...." When you slow down and let go of self consciousness, you become present and in the easy flow of the moment. It is unimportant what others think and you have the space and confidence to choose to respond rather than react or close down.
Your issue is about confidence and presence, establishing your own presence of mind as well as about establishing a physical presence in your new roles. You can learn this in a coaching program, as long as you practise it in real life too. All Cool, Calm & Connected techniques are suitable for practising in everyday interactions (buying bread at a shop, answering the phone) or speaking at a meeting or conference. This is because they are not "speech making" techniques, they are "being comfortable in your own skin" techniques.
Communicating with others becomes much easier once you have found your authentic voice. If this strikes a cord with you too, contact the Goddess Of Public Speaking about a personal coaching program.
Rate between 1 and 10 how cool, calm and connected you feel:
When you speak and lead with natural ease and authenticity, you will be closer to 10. When you feel scattered, distracted or unconfident, you will be closer to 1.
What To Do: If you are above a 7 today, notice what's working well and keep doing it. Accept that daily variations in confidence and clarity are normal and natural.
If you are below a 7 today, practise the 6 minute Inner Calm exercise.