Gulp. You want to share something you strongly believe in. You have tons of empathy
for your audience and don't want to offend them. But what you have to say is not exactly a popular opinion. You feel that it's important for the world to hear you (we think it's important too!). But how do you deal with it when your truth is unpopular or creates a massive emotional upheaval in your audience?
You get up on the stage and speak with power and purpose. You bring all of your passion, persuasion, charisma, and talent with you. You hit all your points, speak with dignity and grace... you nailed it. You peek at your audience and some people are really with you, nodding and smiling. Then there are others: fuming, blazing mad with red faces and dirty looks. It's our current environment, with all that's been happening in the world these days. However, I've got good news for you...
Congratulations- you’ve just made those folks in your audience FEEL!
Actually it IS something to celebrate – it shows that you had enough of an impact for some (most) people to absolutely LOVE what you said and for others to think yikes, that was a challenge.
Confidence ‘no matter who likes me’ derives from finding something that’s more important to you than simply being liked. This is the mark of a truly powerful speaker and it derives from developing true authenticity
in your speaking.
You don’t always have to be shiny and super happy.
Of course a good speaker needs to get the basics right. They should be at choice with how their body, voice and mind behave whilst they’re speaking; they should have a solid sense of empathy with their audience’s needs; their content should be fresh, engaging and well-structured. But all of this can leave you cold without those authentic moments when a speaker talks from the heart.
But honestly... not all things that need to be said are 'happy' or 'shiny'. Sometimes we need to be the speaker of the hard truths. Sometimes we need to overcome all the excessive outside emotions from others and share our hearts.
Always remember who you are.
Collect and internalize all the data that supports your ability to do a good job, no matter who likes it. For example:
- Your experience on the subject matter, matters most. What is it that YOU have inside that will not disappear, no matter what happens during or after your speech?
- Your ability to succeed. Remind yourself of all the times you’ve been successful, be it public speaking or a success in another area that involves communication. Remember that even when you're talking about difficult things, at the very center of your being is someone who can – and does – succeed.
- Remember that you DO shine. Think of when you’re most comfortable. When you’re around friends think of how fun, engaging, interesting, and entertaining you are (otherwise they wouldn’t be your friends right? Right. ). This is who you are, at your very core, no matter who does or doesn't like what you have to say.
If you switch your focus to a message you deeply believe in, it’s no longer important who feels uncomfortable or negative towards you on the way.
Once you find something you believe in – something that goes beyond your desire to be loved – you will become bolder and more fearless than you thought possible. Here, your fear of being judged becomes secondary and as you relax, your audience may even turn from ‘enemy’ to supporter.
Ironically, if you focus on sharing an authentic message that you believe in no matter who thinks what about you, you’ll find that your audience members WILL connect with you. If you’re true to yourself you will attract the right people who can benefit for your message.
And at the end of the day, if someone doesn’t like you in the audience, that’s their deal not yours. I’d much rather be a speaker who pleases some of the audience and annoys others, than be ‘so-so’ for everyone.
As a speaker it’s important to become less defensive and more open.
Difficult subject matter can lead to apprehension about audience reactions. This can lead to feelings of anger, defensiveness, and fear. Instead of resisting those feelings, explore them. Find out why it hurt so badly or how it tapped in to your own inner saboteur
- Looking at your own emotions can help to deal with this situation. Does criticism or disagreements make you hurt or defensive? Take a look at why and ways you can become less sensitive to such perceived attacks.
- Role playing how you would handle criticism is also a useful tool as preparing increases confidence. Use this ‘negative’ experience as a way to “desensitise” yourself.
- You almost certainly triggered something in their shadow — not your issue to deal with. You may have hit their emotional hot spot, but it is THEIR sore spot – NOT yours. Allow the person to have their feelings and thoughts without internalizing them. Theirs was an emotional reaction to what you presented and that is exactly why you’re speaking in the first place.
Some audience members, no matter how witty and engaging, how charming and persuasive, how dynamic and brilliant you are… will NOT like you. Matter of fact they might not like you because of all those things. Do what you can to engage your audience and don’t worry about those who fail to be impressed. That’s their issue, not yours.
More on dealing with criticism (whether it be inside or out)?
- Visualize success… This process is given in the confident public speaking eCourse “Battling the Nerves By Rewiring the Brain”. By developing confidence in yourself, you will become more likeable as a speaker.
- Tame your inner critic so you can change your internal dialogue away from worrying about the negative, towards supporting your confidence. Again, boosting your confidence will help you to impress.
- Freshness is a key quality of a speaker who engages a room. Develop freshness to avoid being BORING as a speaker
- Learn how to be persuasive (from our four-part blog series), so that you can turn a public speaking situation round to your advantage whilst also being authentic.