Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You are ON before you are ON.

My boss decided to take serious action.

After two years of me actively working to ensure I hardly ever had to speak in public, something had to be done and I am currently attending the month long Speak With Impact  course. It is part of my professional and personal development. I did attempt to make excuses to not attend, but eventually I ran out of excuses.

Public speaking and I are not friends in the same way that you never want to make friends with things like gastro or plague. Just like gastro or plague, I find public speaking is something to be avoided at all costs.

Speaking in front of large groups of people that I don't know makes me sweaty, it makes my tongue expand and fill my mouth and make the words hard to get out. I lose my memory and even though I know the presentation, once the anxiety reaches into my brain everything else is lost.

I am fine in meetings, I am fine in networking functions. I have no trouble talking to people higher up the management pecking order. It's just the standing in front of a crowd that freaks me out.

It's only week two and I have had to speak in front of people six times.

Ah, the pressure.

Tonight we were reminded that when you are a speaker at an event you should remember that you are ON before you are ON.

This sounds so simple, but it took someone telling me to make me really think about it. The times I have had to speak, I try and make myself nearly invisible beforehand. I sit at the back of the room, I arrive late. While the introductions are being made I keep my serious face on and my head down, eyes towards the floor.

I have not considered that I am On before I am ON.

Tonight we were reminded and taught about the power of the way you stand, the power of your own body language, the way you enter the room, the way you walk to the front, the eye contact you give to every single person you speak to. The power in silence and pausing. The power of being quiet.

It may be an act, it might not be easy, but you can actually trick your own nerves into thinking they are confident and happy to present. I just have to arrive already in presenter mode. The course presenter stressed that it is ok that you don't want to be there. It is not ok for anyone listening to realise that you don't want to be there. If you turn on before you are on you are off to a good start. We also started working on making eye contact and speaking s l o w l y.

I am yet to master the skills of Speaking with Impact.

But when I enter a room, I have a new on switch.



20 comments:

  1. I have to speak at partner conferences for my job and there are normally 300 of them! YIKES! It has gotten easier as the years have passed. Your course sounds really good though.

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  2. I don't mind public speaking, though it's been a while. Have fun with the course! I am sure you will learn tonnes. Often you just have to keep doing something for it to become natural and comfortable. x

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    1. Thanks Zanni, I really need to do quite a lot, I have quite a way to go, but as you say, I just need to stick at it,

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  3. I am so so jealous at your professional development. What a great employer pushing you to grow - even if it's not too pleasant. It's such a learned skill public speaking - I remember doing a course taken by a mesmerising presenter - and I still am reminded of all the physical signs of stress before doing it - it makes me feel better that I know why my palms are sweaty and am aware of it - then there's something in me that relaxes a little knowing it's a common sign. Good luck - VLOG one of them ;)

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  4. I just read your last post, so I'm thinking a new 'off' switch might work best to warm the crowd??? x

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  5. 6 times in 2 weeks is great exposure...I used to be good at public speaking in primary school and suffered a huge setback in high school resulting in me avoiding it at all costs. Come uni, and I had no choice...it was scary but after doing it several times in a row, it got easier. Last year, for work, I presented three times to about 50-odd professionals...scary as hell but definitely easier by the end. Exposure definitely works! Thanks for sharing your story! :)

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  6. What a great course to go on! Makes me wish I had a job :) I used to speak in front of large groups of people, and the things that helped where to be as prepared and rehearsed as much as possible. Really know your subject inside out so that even if you forget your words you will still be able to talk about it. The second one is to breathe, and make a concious decision to relax. This works more than you would think!
    Break a leg!
    xx

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  7. Great tip and good on for you growing and mastering a new skill.
    It's funny talking in front of a crowd has never worried me, I actually enjoy it a lot but I still remember when I did my first ever live on air radio segment, and it was just community radio, I freaked out, my tongue stuck to my mouth , I talked way too fast and was holding my breath and my left leg started involuntary shaking uo and own so much I thought they would hear it over the air waves haha!

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  8. Oh gosh, I am under pressure to make a speech at my sons 21st this weekend. I am no good at it, I'm nervous already and I am sure I will start crying with emotion and pride a quarter way through. I'm planning to keep it short and sweet!! All I know is don't talk fast and remember to breathe :)

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  9. Good for you!! I like that saying too - ON before you are ON.

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  10. I admire that you have risen to the challlenge. Good work, lady! As a school executive many years ago I was part of a group of many who did a few days' long course about public speaking and PR stuff and media releases...waaaay before social media but the basics stay the same. It's about being who you are as best you can and also acting. Acting as if. When I spoke to groups, assemblies and so on as a school principal I was mostly fine. I usually had notes nearby but was very aware of making audience contact. I was somewhat concerned about being one of the speakers at DPCon12 but wanted to share that story more than I wanted to be fearful and not do it. I knew I wouldnt 'like' what I looked or sounded like, but I was uplifted by the reactions of others. So, on balance, the message got there and I did it. One thing I have learned as getting older is that being afraid to do stuff is not worth it, I try to say yes to most and see them as a challenge. The difference between being 40 and 60 is actually more than the years, it's in a quiet confidence growth for me. Love your work and your words Claire. D xx

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    1. You did great at DP! I totally understand to about age and confidence. You know I was actually not so bad when I was under 25. I did many talks and presentations back then, but age has made me more aware of so many things and less in control of my fears - which I am working hard to get back in my own control.

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  11. I understand this totally. I really, really do! First of all, BRAVO for facing your fears (and for your employer to help you!), and secondly for continuing to face your fears before they take you good and proper. You're going to think I'm mad, but I'd rather sing in front of an audience before talk. Why? Because I can't be misquoted, the words are always the same. But public speaking makes me as nervous as it does you. Last week when my husband was ordained, I was nervous and didn't even have to say anything! I love this concept of on before you're on. It makes sense and really must make a difference about how you present after practicing beforehand. Kind of like faking it until you make it (in a much more positive spin, anyhow!) Can't wait to hear your first public presentation! xx

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    1. Exactly! I can't sing but if I could sing I would happily sing in front of people. The song is the song is the song. But presenting can just be fumble, stumble, question, stutter....

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  12. I used to be a TV journalist and news presenter and I did quite a bit if MCing but I am not very comfortable being a speaker. I had one horror experience years ago when I had to present to a pretty large conference, had a bit too much to drink at the conference dinner the night before, combined with nerves the next morning...not a good feeling in the stomach. And it was a panel so I had to sit up on stage and feel like throwing up. Well done on facing your fears.

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  13. I find it easier when I don't know them not sure why others don't feel this way.

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  14. Good to do a course, I would really like to do one.. it's on the list after my pal Annabel Candy highly recommended doing one. So good on you, and I bet the course will make all the difference. Next year!

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  15. That's a great way of looking at it. Own it before you deliver it. Nice.

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