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Weebles, wobble but they don't fall down. Remember those toys with a rounded bottom, that no matter how many times or how hard you pushed them they just never fell over? They always come back to balance upright at the centre. Being as resilient as a Weeble means adapting to changing circumstances without getting bowled over. The same philosophy applies to your public speaking...
In preparing ourselves for public speaking we often build our confidence on shaky foundations.
We tell ourselves "I'll be ok as long as..."
The as long as might be "As long as the presentation works," or "as long as they laugh at my first joke," or "As long as the boss isn't there.
Whilst this is great if the "So long as"s don't come to pass, if something goes wrong, you run the risk of smashing, rather than bouncing right back up.
Part of the joy of public speaking is that anything can happen, yet nothing tweaks at our public speaking nerves more than the unexpected. Surprises are a way of life in the speaking world, because you have to factor in the audience - with a mind and will of their own.
Anything can happen - questions that you didn't bank on, difficult audience members, a different room layout than you're used to, having (or not having) use of electronic visual aids (think PowerPoint).
Instead of fighting a losing battle to control the uncontrollable, build your Weeble-like resilience by putting your faith in yourself.
Learn to switch: "I'll be ok so long as..." into simply "I'll be ok whatever happens."
Collect and internalize all the data that supports your ability to do a good job, no matter what happens. For example:
Let disturbances pass you by, like a duck in water. When we are anxious we tend to see things in a harsher light. If you learn how to "let things go" without reacting, you'll develop the
[caption id="attachment_8641" align="alignright" width="300"] "I get knocked down but I get up again!" A public speaking weeble in action.[/caption]
skills needed when the unexpected happens as a public speaker.
Learning to be flexible is like a tree bending (or Weeble wobbling) in the wind. It might seem like your projector is out to get you or your laptop has suddenly turned evil, that's just not the case. What makes it "good" or "bad" is how you choose to react or not react. If you remember who you are at your core, you can objectively let the failed (not evil) laptop incident pass and see it as an opportunity to try something different in the moment.
Knowing how to be resilient and doing it are two different animals however. It takes practice and training to become a resilient public speaker. Mindfulness meditation can be an effective tool in learning how to let things go and become more resilient. Mindfulness has shown to increase self esteem and reduce stress. Try the following and practice being a Weeble.
With time and a bit of patience you'll learn to put some distance between you and disturbing thoughts that can knock you off course when public speaking. You can allow yourself to become a resilient public speaker by channeling your inner Weeble and remembering who you are... authenticity always wins.
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