I was recently asked to be god mother to my good friends little girl. I said yes straight away, which was swiftly followed by “and you will do a reading won’t you?” It wasn’t really a question, more of a statement. As a public speaking coach the majority of people don’t believe that I suffer from nerves. Well I do, sometimes. The difference between me and a number of my clients is that I am able to calm my nerves by asking myself a few questions. I look at what it is that I am creating or making up about the situation that leads me to feel a high level of nerves. I know that I can stand up in front of an audience and speak with confidence and passion, so why was I feeling particularly nervous about standing up in a church and reading?
I was able to pinpoint a number of things that I had created about this situation that potentially were just not true.
- If my reading was going to be a ‘success’ then I had to have everyone’s undivided attention.
- If I trip over my words and don’t pronounce the biblical names correctly I will look like I don’t know my content and it won’t be a valuable reading for anyone.
- Therefore if these two things occur I will have failed and people will be wondering why I was chosen to read
So the first question was how did I determine ‘success?’ What it means to me is very different to how other people see it. So in essence it wasn’t in my control. I couldn’t make people pay attention or deem my reading a success. So I needed to let go of that thought as it wasn’t serving me or my audience.
The real problem was number two. I had created the thought that my reading could only be of value if I didn’t stumble over my words. This made up belief is incredibly disempowering and the amount of negative energy and self talk surrounding the thought was draining. It is also just not true.
So if all of that was made up, what is true when it comes to speaking in public?
What’s true is people have different ways of receiving information and engaging with you as a speaker. There is no relation between tripping over words and the value you give. 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. Find the strong, confident and 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 create things that aren’t true or thoughts that don’t help or serve them. Focus on the positives you offer in standing up and speaking to your audience.