Monday, May 22, 2017

Stop the Negative Self-Talk When Presenting

When I work with people who are nervous about public speaking, I ask them to describe the voice they hear in their heads when they have to give a presentation.  Usually, they describe it as a negative voice saying things like:
  • "Don't mess up!"
  • "Who do you think you are?"
  • "You're gonna make a fool of yourself!"

Sound familiar? Does the voice in your head sound like this? I call this voice the "Joy-Sucker" because it sucks the joy out of your work and your life. 

Now imagine a child comes to you and says, "I'm scared about the dance recital [or the baseball game or the school play]."  Would you say: 
  • "Don't mess up!"
  • "Who do you think you are?"
  • "You're gonna make a fool of yourself!"
Never! Instead, you would be supportive, encouraging and positive – you would help him or her practice and prepare.


Now imagine a good friend says to you, "I'm so nervous about that big presentation I have to give next week." Would you say:
  • "Don't mess up!"
  • "Who do you think you are?"
  • "You're gonna make a fool of yourself!"
Never! You would be supportive, encouraging and positive.  You would say:
  • "It will be ok."
  • "They selected you to present because you know your stuff."
  • "I'll help you practice."
So why do you think it's ok to speak to yourself with negative, critical words that you would never say to a child or a friend?

The next time you start spewing negatives at yourself before you have to present, think of the helpful and supportive words you would say to a child or a friend – and then use them on yourself. 

Replacing your negative self-talk with positive self-talk will help you feel more confident and allow you to access your knowledge and experience so you can be a more effective presenter.

(For more on how to develop a positive mantra to replace the Joy-Sucker voice, see http://gildabonanno.blogspot.com/2010/04/public-speaking-fear-drown-out-that.html)


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