If one of your goals is to present with confidence in 2020, Mindful Presenter has the solution. Standing in front of colleagues or clients to speak can be a daunting experience. Public-speaking anxiety isn’t an affliction isolated to the meek or inexperienced. It has no respect for age, position or experience; it can trouble the best of us. In fact, The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety affects about 73% of the population.
If the last decade hasn’t served you well and you’ve found yourself avoiding presentations or making excuses, its time to draw a line and look forward; to present with confidence.
2020 and beyond is your time to shine. It’s your time to find and value your voice, to speak with confidence, clarity and conviction. It takes courage but the journey is a liberating one which will open up a wealth of opportunities.
Once you’ve experienced the exhilaration of connecting with others through the spoken word you won’t want to stop. The key word here is connecting; not informing or engaging but truly connecting.
The moment the clock strikes midnight on the 31st December make a decision to present with confidence:
Step 1. Remember who you are
On your journey so far, you have faced and overcome many challenges. Nothing has been easy, has it?
You weren’t born knowing how to:
- Read and write
- Ride a bicycle
- Pass exams
- Drive a car
- Deal with problems
- Set goals
- Inspire a room full of colleagues or clients
The moment you were born, its unlikely that when the doctor smacked your bottom, she heard you cry and said, ‘This one will give a great TED Talk one day’.
You learned everything; even your fears! That means that you have everything you need to unlearn those fears to present with confidence.
Before you pause to think about just how much you’ve learned and achieved so far, it’s also worth pondering on just what a miracle you really are. In my book, ‘Hamster to Harmony’ I wrote:
‘Our heart beats around 100,000 times every day.
Our blood is on a 60,000-mile journey every single day.
Our eyes can distinguish up to one million colour surfaces and take in more information than the largest telescope known to man.
Our lungs inhale over two million litres of air every day, without even thinking. They are large enough to cover a tennis court.
Our hearing is so sensitive it can distinguish between hundreds of thousands of different sounds.
Our sense of touch is more refined than any device ever created. Our brain is more complex than the most powerful computer and has over 100 billion nerve cells.
We give birth to 100 billion red blood cells every day. When we touch something, we send a message to our brain at 124 mph.
We have over 600 muscles.
We exercise at least 30 muscles when we smile.
We make one litre of saliva a day. In one square inch of our hand we have nine feet of blood vessels, 600 pain sensors, 9000 nerve endings, 36 heat sensors and 75 pressure sensors.
50,000 of the cells in your body will die and be replaced with new cells while you are listening to me.
There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being.
Our brain generates more electrical impulses in a single day than all of the world’s telephones put together.’
Public speaking and presenting feels like a significant challenge to most people. However, despite its appearance, the size of the challenge is miniscule compared to who you really are, everything you’ve achieved so far and your unlimited potential.
I know what you’re thinking, if I’m so amazing why do I feel so awful at the very thought of presenting to clients of colleagues:
‘Just for a second, forget the presentation you’ll have to give tomorrow. Close your eyes and image yourself 25,000 years ago, creeping through the scrub with a few members of your tribe. You’re out hunting, and it’s dangerous business. That pit in your stomach reminds you there are predators out there, and even your prey could turn on you at any moment. Your senses are heightened, your muscles tense.’
In other words, it’s not something we were naturally built for; Art Markman, PhD is a professor of Psychology.
Evolution aside, you’ve come a long way and everything you’ve achieved, you’ve learned.
It wasn’t natural for us to:
- Fly at hundreds of miles an hour, tens of thousands of feet in the air.
- Put a human being on the moon.
- Create a world of electric light
- Develop vaccines and medicines to save billions of lives
- Build monumental constructions without machinery or technology
- Explore the depths of the oceans
Yet we did it all!
Do you think that the countless people involved in those miraculous feats did so without any fear, doubt, upset or confusion?
Remember who you are!
Step 2. Think about the way you think
“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.” George Bernard Shaw
How often do you stop to think about the way you think; especially when it comes to presenting and public speaking?
Do you spend a disproportionate amount of your time thinking?
‘I’m not good enough’
‘I’m a rubbish presenter’
‘Who wants to listen to me’
‘I don’t have what it takes to present with confidence’
‘What if I freeze’
At Mindful Presenter we call those thoughts ‘noise’.
They are neither true or real but we repeat them so often in our minds as thoughts that they feel true.
Can you imagine if your best friend said to you?
‘You’re not good enough’
‘You’re a rubbish presenter’
‘Nobody wants to listen to you’
‘You don’t have the confidence’
‘You will freeze’
They wouldn’t be your friend for long, let alone your best friend.
Yet, we do it to ourselves and make it acceptable.
Stop the ‘noise’ and be kind to yourself.
‘Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something.’ Especially yourself!
Are your thoughts helping or hindering you?
Do they empower or paralyse you?
Are they focused on you getting through the presentation or helping your audience?
Psychotherapist International bestselling author Amy Morin suggests that; ‘Your thoughts are a catalyst for self-perpetuating cycles. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave. So, if you think you’re a failure, you’ll feel like a failure. Then, you’ll act like a failure, which reinforces your belief that you must be a failure.’
We owe it to ourselves to think about the way we think and to do everything within our gift to think positively. In his article, ‘The Power of Positive Thinking: How Thoughts Can Change Your Life’, International speaker and author Brian Tracy says; “After you learn how to think positive, you will notice amazing changes all around you. Your brain will actually begin to operate in a state of free-flowing feel-good hormones called endorphins, which will make you feel lighter and happier.”
In our public speaking course ‘Raising the Bar’ we ask delegates to bring with them to the workshop a photograph of a time when they felt at their happiest.
We then help them to mediate on that image for a few minutes and recall just how happy, confident and empowered they felt in that moment.
The truth is, those feelings are just a thought away.
Step 3. Find out what works
In our presentation training courses and one to one public speaking coaching sessions we hold a passionate belief. That belief is that there is no point in focusing on all of the tools and techniques to become better speakers when we have no idea what already works well for us personally.
At Mindful Presenter, long before we share ideas and opportunities or point out people’s weaknesses as a speaker, we look for and tell them what works now. Everyone has a personal gift; no exceptions.
It could be:
- Your voice.
- The way you make eye contact
- The way you move
- How open and friendly you are
- Your smile
- Your pace
- Your stance
- How expressive you are
- The way you think
- Your accent
The list is as exhaustive as it is real and in the last decade, I personally haven’t come across a single person that doesn’t have at least one key strength when they speak.
Sadly, when you point that asset out to people, many of them had no idea or worse still don’t believe you. Everyone has a gift. Sometimes it simply needs to be unearthed, pointed out and polished. Often, it just takes us recognising, owning and harnessing our gift to enable us to present with confidence.
If presenting and public speaking is an issue for you then its highly likely that you’ve spent years persecuting yourself over it and it’s time to stop.
If you do nothing else in 2020, find someone you trust to tell you what works well for you each time you speak.
“It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
My greatest wish for the next decade is that everyone is inspired, empowered and equipped to find their true voice and a way to express that voice with confidence, clarity and power. The New Year is your time to step up and present with confidence.
If not now, when?
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your leadership skills are you may want to take a look at our leadership training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information about how to present with confidence in our Learning Centre.