Do you beat up on yourself over your presentation skills? Here's how to use positive thinking techniques to stop being your own worst enemy in public speaking!
Why do we obsess over our failures and refuse to learn from the positive experiences in our lives? Maybe you don't do that generally, and I hope that's true. But too many professionals take a bad speaking experience to heart, then use it to undermine their confidence.
Without a doubt, these speakers are their own worst enemy.
Speech anxiety got you in its grasp? To overcome jitters and learn to love public speaking, get my free cheat sheet, "10 Fast and Effective Ways to Overcome Stage Fright."
There are two of these 'devilish thinking habits' I see frequently in my practice of helping people overcome their fear of public speaking. They both involve looking only on the dark side instead of seeing the entire picture. Take a look below and see if that's you. If it is, with the right frame of mind you can turn yourself around so you're pointed toward positive territory instead.
If Tails Means Failure . . . Then Heads Means Success
The first is known as learned behavior—and it can be a particularly strong component of linking public speaking with personal failure in our minds. What happens is at some point, perhaps even as far back as childhood, we go through a devastating public speaking experience.
We feel embarrassment or shame or humiliation along with a strong dose of self-disappointment. Sometimes, the reality of what happened isn't nearly as bad as we remember the situation—but the seed is planted. From then on, we equate the public speaking situation with personal failure, and sometimes with sheer inability on our part.
Learned behavior can be a powerful source of low self-esteem and self-expectations concerning public speaking, in some cases lasting decades. In effect, we have learned to fail. And we anticipate the same result happening every time we speak, and so convince ourselves that we can't speak at all.
But as I say to my clients: "If we learn to fail in this way, why can't we learn to succeed?" In other words, why do we focus only on our public speaking failures? The other side of the coin, of course, is the opposite. And without doubt, each of us has succeeded far more often than we've failed, or we wouldn't have our job and speak as frequently as we do. So if you have a learned experience of your own, flip the coin, and take a close look at what the other side reveals. Remind yourself of all the times you've succeeding as a presenter, and use that positive thinking to create a successful outcome for yourself rather than a disappointing one.
Add Up Your Speaking Assets, then Talk About Them
Another way to teach yourself not to embrace negative thinking, is to focus on everything you have going for you as a speaker. In a course like The Genard Method's Fearless Speaking Program, areas needing improvement must be the overall focus.
But in any course aiming to improve your confidence, I think it's worthwhile remembering all the things you do well. It's important, in other words, to build upon your strengths as well as shore up your weaknesses. So I use an exercise I call "Your Public Speaking Strengths."
The task is to write down your assets as an oral communicator. It asks: "When you're with people you feel comfortable around, what makes them listen to you? What attributes help you when you speak to others?" Your intelligence, sense of humor, passion, playfulness, kindness, creativity, subject matter expertise, and any other strength can and should be listed.
Once that's been accomplished, imagine that you're on a job interview and the interviewer says, "We're quite interested in your speaking skills. So tell us what makes you an effective communicator." No matter if it isn't realistic—it's your opportunity to focus on what you have going for you. Feel free to record your response on audio or videotape it. (This is one of the ways you can discover how video can transform your public speaking.)
Writing out your attributes as a speaker is a down payment on your willingness to succeed at public speaking. But actually talking about good communication will give you practice in speaking freely and frequently and get you closer to sealing the deal. So go for it!
You should follow me on Twitter here.