Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Become a focus-shifter.

It’s a nifty way to evict the speaking butterflies that get between you and confidence. But first, a little background.

No-one can truly multi-task.

The human brain doesn’t do simultaneous tasking. The idea has been thoroughly disproven. I know, activities like raising a tribe of children seem to scream multi-tasking, but the exhausted adult’s mind is just darting from one demand to another.

You doubt me? Next time you have some superficial injury – a cut, a graze, a bruise – throw yourself into a favourite activity, especially if it involves attention to detail. It’s one of the best pain killers around.

Your mind has only one lens and can only focus one thing at a time.

Time to stop suffering

So let’s make use of that knowledge to be rid of another type of pain. Do you feel the fear of speaking but make yourself go through it because you have to? Here’s how to stop suffering.

Shift your focus from you to your audience

Think about it. Imagine standing in front of your next audience with thoughts like I don’t like speaking / I’ll stuff it up / I’ll lose my words / etc. Where are you focused right now? On you. Red light. Focus on inadequacy is self-fulfilling.

Instead, make yourself think how much your audience needs to get the message of your topic. Is it important that they get it? Your thoughts could now be: You need to get this message. It’s really important that you get this.

Now where are you focused? On them. Green light.

Now you’re more likely to deliver what the audience needs. And if you’re no longer thinking about being nervous, are you nervous?

That’s a rhetorical question.


About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally-charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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