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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