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Ginger’s style of developing leaders is based on the principle that you are already brilliant, you just don’t fully know it yet. Our trainers are always on the look out for glimpses of your full leadership power – and we spend a lot of time helping you to see that power and step into it for yourself.
This is based on the principle of Dynamic Truth – that what you trust to be true, becomes true.
When a child is expected to be naughty, she expects it for herself and then becomes it – and vice-versa for children who are expected to be smart, creative, responsible and so on.
It’s the same with adults; if others are on the look-out for our failures, that can feed into our own insecurities and become self-fulfilling. If we’re expecting to perform badly, we focus on all the things we did wrong and ignore those that are going well. As we focus on the negative, our confidence is impacted and those negatives are more likely to become true. It’s a strange sort of confirmation bias.
When we apply this thinking to public speaking, it seems to become magnified.
‘Transformers’ director Michael Bay, delivering a Samsung product launch, knew that he was a nervous speaker, focused intently on it and as a result froze on stage and had to abandon the launch.
I’d be willing to bet that the way he was taught public speaking involved the traditional, ‘this is right, this is wrong’ approach to giving feedback that criticized his negative behaviours and praised his positive behaviours.
The problem with this is that people who have high perfectionism, high anxiety, or both, have a tendency to disproportionately focus on the 5% of negative performance over the 95% good enough or good. I see this all the time in my public speaking workshops.
What these competitive, successful, striving leaders need is not more criticism, they do enough of that to themselves. They need someone to stand back and marvel at their power and to skilfully help them to believe in it.
Sure, some critique is valuable – and we give it – but our focus is on helping our clients to become genuinely comfortable with their power.
I spend a lot of time in workshops saying ‘Wow, you’re like a stand up comic!’ or ‘That bit of vulnerability, that moved me, go there,’ or ‘You’re enjoying this, aren’t you? I think you’re a real showman.’
Interestingly, this is an approach that works particularly well for women, who even at senior levels are often victims of Imposter Syndrome. I had one very senior female leader say to me yesterday ‘I hate public speaking. But my audiences seem to think I’m inspiring.’
We show leaders like her that she’s not only doing fine, she’s doing great and here’s why…. As she comes to trust that ‘dynamic truth’, it becomes even more true than it was in the first place. Her nerves settle down, she believes in her power and, like a wild horse learning to trust a human, she becomes more bold, more solid and more confident.
Countless studies show that a positive self image becomes self fulfilling – e.g. that the athletes with positive self talk are the most likely to succeed.
This Dynamic Truth approach to feedback is as simple as positive self talk, but it’s power is that it comes from the outside. When someone else has spotted the brilliance we secretly know we have inside us, it’s no longer possible to hide it.
The UK’s leading inspiring speaking expert & best-selling author. Sarah Lloyd-Hughes is a multiple-award winning public speaking coach, founder of Ginger and author of “How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking” (Pearson).
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