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‹ View all articles 11th November 2013

The resilient public speaker is capable of anything

Delivering a Talk

Weebles, wobble but they don't fall down. Remember those toys with a rounded bottom, that no matter how many times or how hard you pushed them they just never fell over? They always come back to balance upright at the centre. Being as resilient as a Weeble means adapting to changing circumstances without getting bowled over. The same philosophy applies to your public speaking...

In preparing ourselves for public speaking we often build our confidence on shaky foundations.

We tell ourselves "I'll be ok as long as..."

The as long as might be "As long as the presentation works," or "as long as they laugh at my first joke," or "As long as the boss isn't there.

Whilst this is great if the "So long as"s don't come to pass, if something goes wrong, you run the risk of smashing, rather than bouncing right back up.

Part of the joy of public speaking is that anything can happen, yet nothing tweaks at our public speaking nerves more than the unexpected. Surprises are a way of life in the speaking world, because you have to factor in the audience - with a mind and will of their own.

Anything can happen - questions that you didn't bank on, difficult audience members, a different room layout than you're used to, having (or not having) use of electronic visual aids (think PowerPoint).

Instead of fighting a losing battle to control the uncontrollable, build your Weeble-like resilience by putting your faith in yourself.

Learn to switch: "I'll be ok so long as..." into simply "I'll be ok whatever happens."

Here's how:

1. Find your inner confidence

Collect and internalize all the data that supports your ability to do a good job, no matter what happens. 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 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 things did go wrong i the past, 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 how well your talk does or doesn't go.

2. Let it roll off your back.

Let disturbances pass you by, like a duck in water. When we are anxious we tend to see things in a harsher light. If you learn how to "let things go" without reacting, you'll develop the

[caption id="attachment_8641" align="alignright" width="300"] "I get knocked down but I get up again!" A public speaking weeble in action.[/caption]

skills needed when the unexpected happens as a public speaker.

Learning to be flexible is like a tree bending (or Weeble wobbling) in the wind. It might seem like your projector is out to get you or your laptop has suddenly turned evil, that's just not the case. What makes it "good" or "bad" is how you choose to react or not react. If you remember who you are at your core, you can objectively let the failed (not evil) laptop incident pass and see it as an opportunity to try something different in the moment.

3. Practice makes perfect

Knowing how to be resilient and doing it are two different animals however. It takes practice and training to become a resilient public speaker. Mindfulness meditation can be an effective tool in learning how to let things go and become more resilient. Mindfulness has shown to increase self esteem and reduce stress. Try the following and practice being a Weeble.

  • Find a quiet place to sit and be calm for 10 minutes a day when practicing daily for your "big talk".
  • Focusing on sitting quietly and be completely present in the moment. Let any other thoughts, past or future, go on by.
  • Find your place of resilience; where you are centred and calm
  • Don't stop, resist, or control your thoughts - let them wash through you without judgment.
  • Whenever you feel knocked off balance, come back to that calm, centred place.

With time and a bit of patience you'll learn to put some distance between you and disturbing thoughts that can knock you off course when public speaking. You can allow yourself to become a resilient public speaker by channeling your inner Weeble and remembering who you are... authenticity always wins.

 

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