Any time you feel nervous about public speaking, help yourself get over it by asking yourself what you’re making up about the speaking situation. Here’s how to find out your truth about your public speaking.
I noticed a few weeks ago that I was nervous about a public speaking workshop I was just about to run. That’s a workshop I run a lot – and sometimes I get really nervous about it (yes, that’s right, even public speaking coaches get nervous!). The difference between me and a lot of my public speaking clients is that when I get nervous, I don’t let it destroy my confidence. Instead, I look for what I’m making up about the situation that makes me feel nervous.
So what was I making up that made me feel nervous? It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the workshop, or that people wouldn’t like it, I’ve taken thousands of people through the programme and they have universally enjoyed it… What was it then?
I discovered that I was thinking of a couple of people in the group and making up that :
- They are very serious people who don’t like to laugh
- If my workshops are going to be effective the person has to laugh
- Therefore (my logic goes) the workshop is probably going to fail, because if they don’t laugh they won’t see any value in the workshop.
Now, as it happens 1) wasn’t true – the group was very friendly and we laughed a lot together, they learned a lot and the workshop was a big success. But that’s not the point, nor the problem here.
The real problem was number 2) – that I was making up that my workshops can only be valuable when people laugh. This made up belief is incredibly disempowering, because it means that if I have a certain type of person in my group, I just can’t help them.
Now of course, that isn’t true- it’s made up.
So if that’s made up, what is true about public speaking?
What’s true is people have different ways of being in the world. And it’s the same when they’re listening to public speaking. Some people like to laugh at everything and others… well, let’s just say they’re laughing on the inside. I don’t think there are any scientific studies to show that laughter equals value.
And what’s even more true is that whatever your audience’s reaction, you are still the same person, with the same abilities, the same qualities, the same capacity to help others. That doesn’t go out of the window even if one person in the audience didn’t rate you. The trick is to find the unshakeable place inside you that will keep trying, whatever voices try to tell you you’re no good.
Even the most seasoned public speakers can make things up about themselves or their audience. Try to remember the truth about your public speaking and you’ll be on your way to a realistic positive image of yourself and your speaking ability.