Unlock the speaker in you

Quick summary: There are three ways you can think about public speaking to stop you from doing it:

  • “I’m modest about what I do”
  • “Other people wouldn’t be interested in me”
  • “I won’t be good at speaking”

This piece suggests some different ways to look at your thinking, freeing you to become a confident speaker.

Full article: Are you avoiding your next speaking opportunity? All the time? And do you find yourself walking away from speaking opportunities when you know you should be taking them?

There are more and more events out there. And more and more speaking opportunities. All good you might think. Except that speakers with real potential are in hiding. They’re locking themselves away. Ask any conference organiser and they’ll say they could do with a deeper pool of speakers.

So what’s keeping speakers away? It’s down to how they think about speaking. Here are three of the thoughts that I’ve found coming from people I work with. Together they form a ‘triple combination lock’ preventing action.

Take a look and see if they apply to you:

    “I’m modest about what I do. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, or be the centre of attention. I don’t like drawing attention to my own shortcomings either.” This rules out talking about either triumphs or disasters, which only leaves the ordinary, which is also ‘out’ because………

    “Other people wouldn’t be interested in me. People already know what I know. In fact, they know more than me. I’m not extraordinary. I’ve not done anything amazing. I’m not worthy of standing up on stage and taking up people’s time” And in any case……

    “I won’t be good at speaking. Speaking well in public is a gift or talent. You either have it or you don’t. and I’m just one of those people who don’t think they have the ability”.

That’s a degree of capture that Houdini would be proud of.

Do you find yourself thinking any of these things? They’re all designed to protect you of course. Because speaking is a bit risky. Except, life can often be dulled by not taking a risk or two. And with the right preparation and practise, your career, your organisation and your people’s development can really benefit if you can step out of your comfort zone.

If you’re up for working on these locks, this might get the barrels moving:

1. “I’m modest about what I do.” Your thoughts in this area may be based on what you did or what you achieved. Try directing your attention to how or why. Your audience may well be more interested in how you achieved it. Or why it was necessary. They want to learn something they can take back and maybe use themselves. Ask yourself: “What did I learn?” When you start to work on that question, you become interested in your own journey. And when you’re interested in what you’re speaking about, guess what? You become interesting to others, which means you can start to address barrel number 2.

2. “Other people wouldn’t be interested in me.” They already know what I’m going to say.” But how could they really know what you know? Were they there doing what you were doing? Thinking what you were thinking? And even if they do know, so what?

How many times do you hear someone say, “it’s such a relief to know I’m not on my own” after hearing a speaker? Or, “that’s like our situation but it’s different”. It’s a good thing to have had some experiences that are like your audience’s experiences.

Maybe barrel two is starting to move. And if that’s the case let’s work on the final one which is:

3.“I won’t be good at speaking.” It might look to you as though every speaker you see was born on the stage. But come on. Really? Isn’t it more likely that they were motivated to learn how to speak?

What you don’t see when someone speaks is the work they put in. The preparation, the thought and the time that goes into creating that result. You just see the result. But results don’t just happen. Maybe some people start with a small advantage. But they can lose that without work. And if you don’t have that, you’ll make up for it if you apply yourself.

Just think of something you do well and ask yourself, “was I born with that skill? Or did I learn, experiment and learn and move on and try again?”

This is what happened for me with speaking, running, writing, training, coaching and pretty much everything in my life and on an ongoing basis. Maybe it’s time to learn some new thinking and some new skills. Come on, it’s in you, you’ve got this.

I work with individuals on a one to one basis and in small group workshop settings. To arrange an informal conversation drop me an email to john@johnscarrott.com or use the contact form

And if you’re an Association professional check in here to view forthcoming open Masterclasses on this subject.

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