Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Okay, this is light-hearted, but there's a serious point to make about our ability to be present with an audience. 

Outside our kitchen window, there's a very large elm tree. Late every afternoon, around dusk, a blackbird sits in it and sings. No ordinary song - for at least 20 minutes this feathered diva does not repeat itself.  We never hear the same musical phrase; not in tone, note or rythym. It clearly makes its melodies up, without pause, as it goes. It can't be a simple message like danger, or worm; anything like that is surely done with a single raucous chirp.

What's it doing? My wife and I have decided that our blackbird enjoys speaking in public and does not suffer from self-consciousness.

Sure, I'm reaching a long way for that one. So here's the serious bit.  The hard truth.

However kind and understanding our audiences may be, if they detect self-consciousness, they see us as less credible.  Just to be clear, the self-consciousness is itself the enemy, more than any mistakes we might make.

Why?  Because when we're worried about ourselves we're sending a potent signal to our audience that our attention is actually not on them.

How to get over self-consciousness?  That's what all these blogs are about.  But for now, here's a super quick tip that works startlingly well for some people - it's emotional blackmail you apply to yourself.  Ask, Who am I here for? Is it for me? Or is it for my audience? 

The audience? Right answer. 

 

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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