Out Trick The Fear of “Public Speaking”

 

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.

Michel de Montaigne

 

My friend Becky (names changed) recently told me that her boss is worth $400 million – and – he’s afraid to speak in public!

 

Let that sink in. . .

 

Almost every person who seeks me out for public speaking coaching laments, “I don’t know why I’m afraid.”The reasons they offer seldom are grounded in hard logic. Many of the reasons are inane (and I tell them that).

 

People hypnotize themselves into a state of mumbled nerves, all while engaging in magical thinking:

If I talk softly, they won’t hear me say something stupid.

If I don’t look at people, they won’t ask me questions.

If I don’t show emotion, they won’t pay attention to my accent.

 

Why speak in a soft voice?

Do you think you are engaging?

Do you think people are grateful?

Do you think it makes you trustworthy?

Do you think it enhances your authority?

 

NO!

 

And, yet, people self-sabotage out of fear based in some weird thinking (and, yes, I am an expert in weird thinking as I’ve spent countless hours addicted to such thinking!)

 

This post is prompted by an email I had received from a client a few weeks before Covid hit and I never had the chance to share it.

 

Blake came to me determined to improve as a speaker. He had to as he recently opened up his own insurance office and speaking was a key component to reaching new clients.

 

We had been working on his techniques shy of three months when he wrote me –

 

I just finished with a client presentation, and did my default critique of all the areas that need improvement. Originally, this email was intended to provide you with that list. BUT you will be happy to know that when I fired up g-mail I remembered that I would be better served to take note on what I did well and express my gratitude. So, let’s start with that.

 

  1. My slides made sense and I understood what I wanted to do with them. They had real meaning.

 

  1. When I found myself in the weeds, I did a good job of being aware of that fact by stopping and asking for feedback.

 

  1. I made them and their needs the focus of my conversation.

 

  1. I stayed away from assumptions and always responded by asking them to confirm if I was right or wrong.

 

  1. I was energetic, compassionate and humble in my approach.

 

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference for people.

 

Areas for improvement:

  • I was way too fast-paced and in my head.
  • I was all over the map and at times confusing.
  • I thought I was prepared but now I feel like I could have been more prepared.
  • I felt a little panicky, fight or flight-ish for some reason.
  • I could have organized my materials in a way that made things more clear.
  • I could have had a clear outcome from this call and a clear path for proceeding forward.

 

I wanted to cry I was so happy for him. AND I felt smug –

THIS is infomercial proof that with strategy + practice + determined patience you can develop as a confident speaker.

 

Another “infomercial” client is Summer. She is an accomplished and beloved high school administrator – despite being a too-nervous-to-be-engaging speaker. She races when speaks because she doesn’t believe she’s worthy of being listened to. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves!

Summer worked hard on a presentation she was slated to give at a Zoom conference. It was this talk that finally gave her the breakthrough she had been yearning – and – working for.

She told me that she closed with a personal story that was important to her. She shared the story with me and I was moved. It was a story that had “heart.”

Gifting her audience with a story that had heart allowed her to –

  1. Show passion
  2. Connect emotionally
  3. Share her enthusiasm
  4. Take the audience on a journey that made them think
  5. Reassure all that she is both approachable and vulnerable and so is “real”
  6. Tap into her humor which was rooted in joy
  7. Generate interest and welcome questions

She finally believed in the worth of what she was saying – and magic was created.

 

Oftentimes, in a first meeting, a potential client will say to me, “It would be nice not to be afraid, but I guess I’ll always nervous.”

 

Here’s the thing –

Maybe you WILL always be nervous.

BUT

Blake and Summer remind us – you can be nervous AND engaging.

You can be nervous AND confident at the same time.

 

The truth is – being nervous AND boring is simply a choice. . .

 

Now THAT’s the business of confidence!

How Does Your Family’s “Motto” Influence You?

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.

Gerry Spence

 

I Zoomed with my client Jesse (names changed) last week and was surprised he was wearing glasses.

 

When I complimented him on the new look he told me that he’d never worn glasses before; however, he’s thrilled with the difference they make – he can’t believe how clear street signs are!

 

For years Jesse thought all signs were blurry because they were far away AND he presumed they were blurry for everyone!

 

He lived in a fuzzy world and didn’t know it. He just thought, “That’s the way things are.”

 

Jesse is a smart guy who excels in his job. He’s not a dope. He just didn’t know that there’s a better way to see.

 

And in that, he’s like so many of us. Take my other client, Richard.

 

In our first meeting he told me that he hates when people interrupt him. He thinks they’re rude and disrespectful.

 

He complained that many people interrupt him and he wonders if he’s doing something to encourage them in that behavior.

 

The following week (this was a short while before Covid emptied out business offices) I sat in on a meeting with Richard and four other executives, as they wanted to explore training possibilities for various teams in the company.

 

During the meeting, one of the executives interrupted Richard and he immediately shut down. Everything about him changed – his face, his posture, his overall “vibe.” He glared at the guy.

 

Richard later told me that when growing up, his parents insisted he and his siblings not interrupt when adults spoke – and they didn’t allow for freewheeling discussion. The family motto was: don’t interrupt people – it’s rude.

 

But is a person automatically rude if she or he interrupts?

 

I don’t think so.

 

What about the person who comes from a large family where everyone had to compete to be heard and interrupting was accepted?

 

Colleen, who works in the Trustees Office of a major not-for-profit, told me that when growing-up she was warned by her parents – “the shy starve.”

 

Her challenge is the flip side of Richard’s.

 

So, too, Eva, who is a project manager. She took one of my workshops because she wanted to learn how to manage her “difficult” team. At the end of the day, she shared with me her “Ah-Ha!” moment – it’s not her team that’s difficult, it’s that she is difficult!

 

Growing-up she was told by her mother, “When your father tells you to do something, do it and don’t ask questions.”

 

Eva is new to her role as manager and is irritated when her team asks questions. She came into the workshop hoping to learn techniques for eliminating the team’s need to ask questions. She left with a new-found understanding of the importance of asking questions.

 

Here’s the thing – every family lives life guided by a motto.

 

Sometimes it is spoken aloud; other times it is implicitly understood. But no matter, this mantra guides a family as it navigates through life.

 

Family mottos take on their own life.

 

They influence how we see and interpret people and situations.

They become the air we breathe.

 

When I was growing up, my family’s mantra was: trust no one.

 

My father was a cop. His job demanded that he be leery of all. I breathed in that mantra without thought or doubt. Later in life I had to work hard to overcome its limitations and to trust people.

 

Without understanding your family’s assumptions about how life is lived, you will be setting yourself up in subtle ways for stress and misunderstanding.

 

Give yourself an “eye exam” and identify your family’s motto.

Does that motto help or hinder you?

 

now THAT is the business of confidence. . .

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

10 Ways to Telegraph to Clients You’re a Trustworthy Person

 

 

The purpose of life is not to be happy.

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,

to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

 

Emerson

 

People hire me for my skill as a coach and trainer – BUT – they rehire me because they trust me.

 

At the core of my work is the belief that all of communication is about two things: Psychology + Strategy

 

Understand what makes you tick

Understand what makes the other person tick

Then you can develop a strategy for getting heard and understood.

 

In practical terms, what this means is – we all do what we do and say what we say for a reason. No one “just is.”

 

We communicate so as to get our needs met – every time.

 

THE greatest need that each one of us has is – the need to be seen.

 

There is no greater fear than the fear of being ignored. Dismissed. Misunderstood.

 

When people believe that we “see” them then they will trust us.

 

Trust is grounded in seeing.

 

While there are many ways in which to reassure folks that you “see” them, here are ten of my go-to techniques.

 

 

  1. Know your story. What are you about? Why do you love doing what you love doing? AND are you open to the stories of others? Our stories are not in competition with each other. Rather, they energize and enliven each other, so that in a real meeting, stripped of pretense, the phrases you’ll hear said repeatedly are, “That happened to you? This is what happened to me!”

 

  1. Look for points of shared commonality. Whenever I meet with someone for the first time, I’m looking for where their story intersects with mine. I approach expecting to be impressed. I approach with curiosity and am quick with a compliment. Being genuinely interested in someone makes you genuinely interesting. And people tend to trust interesting people.

 

  1. Be light-hearted for there already is so much that drags life into puddles. Humor goes a long way to making us more approachable.

 

 

  1. Don’t bash or complain. Negativity has a life of its own. If they complain about the team’s work, inquire why. Don’t play into their negativity because what good do you hope to accomplish?

 

  1. Know how to describe and characterize your professional hallmark. “This is my approach” – can you make that assertion with confidence, surety and pride? People are drawn to another person’s self-awareness when it is grounded in humility and not arrogance.

 

  1. Call a person by their name. There is no sweeter sound.

 

  1. Demonstrate how you personalize your work with and for them. Let them know that you’re not simply performing a “routine.” Let them know you understand and “see” their need.

 

  1. Play off of energy. Pay attention to the different energies in a meeting or an encounter. Bring your own unique branded energy by asking questions. Ask, “What are you thinking?” all the while being patient.

 

  1. Don’t be desperate. Know that you’re not right for everyone. It’s not personal. It’s not rejection – it’s a matter of style preferring style.

 

 

  1. Offer gratitude. Develop ways to telegraph gratitude that reassures people you value their value.

 

 

Now THIS is the business of confidence!

 

 

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

 

How To Break Through Fear

 

Your life is what your thoughts make it.

Confucious

 

 

Recently I Zoomed with Jasmin (names changed), a new client who wants to learn how to engage and not repel people. She claims she turns off people because she has a hard time making eye contact and gets nervous when talking, especially with people she doesn’t know and so doesn’t trust.

 

Because Jasmin has a great smile and friendly energy I was puzzled – what is she telling herself that makes her feel so uneasy that her unease becomes off-putting?

 

Jasmin eventually revealed she’s afraid people are going to hurt her – not physically, but emotionally.

 

When I asked when was the last time someone had intentionally or unintentionally hurt her, to her surprise, she couldn’t recall!

 

Her fear has as much validity as the fear of getting hit by lightning on a clear day. While she recognizes her fear is bogus, it still paralyzes her.

 

Facing down fear, no matter how irrational, is hard because it requires that we  change and we can’t change until we acknowledge the fear is irrational. 

 

There’s more. . .

 

The truth is – the only person who likes change is a wet baby!

 

Before any change can take place, we have to recognize the sneakiness of our resistance

what are we truly afraid of? 

 

Jasmin isn’t afraid of people. She’s afraid of being hurt by people. Or more accurately, she’s afraid of the possibility of people hurting her.

 

Change is not about a personality makeover.

 

However, only when we decide to do something new can we then resolve to manage our self-sabotaging behavior.

We can resolve we’re not going to continue to be entrapped by our old, fear-induced rituals. 

 

Managing our self-sabotaging behavior is ALL about learning how not to screw things up for our own self.

 

Here are four steps to take so as not to get in your own way. 

 

First – when a fear kicks in, stop and ask yourself, “Am I simply reacting out of habit?” 

 

Jasmin revealed that when she goes into a work meeting, virtual or in-person, she gets nervous because she’s afraid of getting hurt. But there’s no one in that meeting who will hurt her without her permission.

 

Since she knows she works with good people, getting nervous is just her default setting.

 

Second – ask yourself, “Is there another way of doing this?” 

 

I urged Jasmin to take a moment before entering a meeting room and say to herself, “I’m entering a room where no one wants to hurt me.” She must talk down the fear of the irrational lie that people want to hurt her.

 

Third – be present – commit to showing-up in the moment. Stay present.

 

Don’t get caught up in psychodrama of your own creating.

 

Fourth – celebrate the win for “change.”

 

At some later point, take a moment to acknowledge that you resisted caving in to the power of whatever lie you’ve been telling yourself. Power comes from and in acknowledgement.

 

Our self-sabotaging lies become the air we breathe.

 

With practice we can reduce their power and break through to a new way of being and doing.

 

now THAT is the business of confidence. . .

 

 

Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]

818-415-8115