Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

(Of course thoughts must be supported by consistent action, but this month's tip will focus just on the thoughts.)

Don't listen to anyone who says fear of public speaking is 'just in the mind' - the results are real, often with distressing physical symptoms. But because it does begin in the mind (like all our fears) that's where we find the solution.

Vivid and frequent thoughts feed your subconscious and shape who you are

Ultimately your mind makes you. What you think often, you become. So wouldn't it be handy to have some control over which thoughts you allow to stick around? Become your own thought gatekeeper. Some thoughts are so destructive to you, they should not be detained - allow them to pass on by and disapate.

Like these. Do you recognise any? (All have been expressed in my training workshops.)

I always get nervous, it's horrible.
I always feel sick before I start.
I just don't like showing off.
I don't like being in the spotlight.
If I speak with confidence, people will think I'm arrogant.
It's better to show a little humility than too much confidence.
If I speak in front of others, people will see through me.
If I put myself 'out there', I'm riding for a fall.
I'm afraid that they won't like me.
I don't like everyone looking at me.
Direct eye contact with audience members is too confrontational.
I lose credibility because I'm too hairy / bald / fat / skinny / lumpy / naff / pigeon-toed / (...choose your own...)
I am not a public speaker.

Are your thoughts about speaking your worst barrier?

Hold such thoughts vividly and the thought itself will downgrade your ability. The fact that you have the thought is much more significant than whether or not it is true or false - because you are the one who creates the reality.

Look at the last thought in the list: I am not a public speaker. Whatever follows those two words I am... is not superficial; it's a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy. And we all programme our own I am... throughout our lives.

What do you think of the following thoughts?

I always feel nervous energy; it's a great way to start.
The audience wants me to be confident.
I feel comfortable in front of an audience.
When I know my stuff, I feel good.
This is fun.
It's scary but thrilling.
When I'm on a roll, I have no trouble finding the words.
It's terrific when I get the audience hooked and they pay close attention.
It's a great feeling when they nod or smile.
I really enjoy the look in everyone's eyes when I'm doing well.
When I speak well, I get a great feeling of personal strength.
What a buzz. I love it. And I am good at this.

So, this is the other side of the coin. By holding such thoughts frequently and vividly, you build your confidence and presence, expanding your I am

Your subconscious has no sense of reality, true or false, right or wrong. It takes its cues from you and will simply do what you tell it! It obeys all orders. Yes, it does have a mind of its own - yours.

Now, here's the catch.

Are you thinking, I've tried all that positive thinking stuff and it doesn't work?

Let me explain what's going on when it doesn't work. Your subconscious is not just conveniently listening to the thoughts you want it to get. It's listening to all of your thoughts, including all the rubbish. There's no point in one minute of careful thoughts like I'm going to really enjoy this, if for the rest of your day you allow careless thoughts like I never enjoy it... they don't like me... I hate public speaking... etc.

So, if you take this tip seriously, don't kid yourself. It is simple, but it takes time and determination.

Powerful thoughts to invite inside for a long stay

I want to suggest a type of thought that is particularly effective. Three examples:

I like who I am - warts and all!
When I present to an audience they can see right through me - and that's okay!
I like them (the audience). I'm going to enjoy their company!

There's nothing quite like the pleasure of moving from fear to confidence in front of other people. And that's not just good for you, it's good for everyone.

I've just remembered something. When I had a yacht, friends would come sailing with me. A few told me in advance that they were nervous. "I always get sea sick." They were the ones who felt queasy while we were still tied up at the dock in completely calm water.

May the thoughts be with you.



Interested in a workshop on presentation skills for your team?

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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