We fear public speaking, because we fear being judged by others. But more often than not, we are our own biggest critic.
“I’m so bad at presenting”; “I’m going to look stupid”; “I talk funny”; “I always screw up” are just some of the things that might run through our heads prior to a presentation, meeting or speaking engagement.
At Speak for Success, we highly encourage our members to video record themselves when delivering a speech..and when we do, the negative self-talk tends to emerge. “I hate seeing myself speak”; “I hate how I sound”; “ewwww NO!” ...you name it...after training over 60 women, we think we’ve heard it all.
This negative internal dialogue can be distracting and can cause anxiety and mental stress. If done frequently enough, we can actually convince ourselves that we have no opportunity for choice, change or power. This is why negative self-talk is a bad habit that needs to be squashed - pronto!
1. Allowing yourself to indulge.
Allowing yourself to indulge in the "should’ves", "could’ves" and the "why didn’t Is" can put your confidence into a tail-spin if left unchecked and unexamined.
When you start doing this, shift your thinking into the present and remind yourself that every speaking opportunity is one for learning and growth. Sure, you might have made a few mistakes, but what’s important is that you seized the opportunity. After all, that’s what having a growth-mindset is all about.
2. Constantly apologizing about what you have done, said, or thought.
This loop of apologizing will do you no favours, except to remind others of your shortcomings (which are likely over-exaggerated or don’t even exist). Forgot your place in your presentation? Just pause, re-set and carry on. Experiencing technical difficulties? Thank people for their patience. Learn how to use power language in your everyday conversations (spoiler alert: it doesn’t include apologizing!).
3. Labelling yourself.
When we label ourselves, we make that label part of our identity. Declaring that “I am a bad public speaker” or “I am a nervous person” puts us in a fixed-mindset, and implies that we are unable to make a change.
Instead, try re-framing it as a skill that needs to be nurtured. Suddenly, “I am a bad public speaker” becomes “I need to work on developing my public speaking skills”, which implies that there is room for improvement and that there is a solution at play (i.e. practice).
4. Lending an ear to others who engage in constant negative talk.
Avoid giving mental and emotional space to people who always tear down, never build up; who take, and never support. Sure, we all have bad days but being around people who are constantly negative can (and eventually will) start to effect your way of thinking. You need these people like you need a hole in the head. Be cordial, but move on.
5. Failing to celebrate your wins.
For those who are driven and growth oriented (i.e. you, if you’re reading about public speaking in your spare time!), it can be tempting to deliver a speech and then dive right into what you could have done better. This habit is part of what makes you successful, but can also result in you failing to celebrate your wins.
Yes, you could have looked at your notes less during your speech - but you delivered your first speech! *cue celebration*
Yes, you could have used better body language during your keynote - but you gave your first key note! *cue celebration*
Don’t miss these moments, as they're important for building your level of confidence and serve as opportunities to engage in positive self-talk.
We spend more time with ourselves than with anyone else and what we say to ourselves matters.
You’re pretty great, and you deserve to tell yourself that on a regular basis. If she can do it, you can do it too.