For Confident Public Speaking, Be On Your Own Side

For confident public speaking, be on your own side  

Speaking confidently when speaking in public, a skill often referred to as “confident public speaking,” can be challenging, to state the obvious. And sometimes people don’t make it easy for themselves either: their self-talk is harsh and critical. Maybe you recognise yourself here.

There are ways to counteract this negative self-talk, without turning it into a fight. One of these concepts, learned from U.S. psychologist Rick Hanson, can aid us in accessing inner strength and capacity:

“Be on your own side”.

And I thought of this phrase specifically this morning when receiving emails from a client showing how clearly she was struggling to do this. A harshly focused spotlight was highlighting all her perceived flaws as a speaker.

It’s understandable human behaviour – we humans can be so quick to judge our challenges and difficulties as signs that we’re not measuring up.

(Sometimes the world/manager/boss/family member is only too happy to point these things out for us too. I always remember a client’s story about when she looked up during her presentation to see that her boss had her head in her hands.)

Imagine if, instead of giving our human frailty and concerns a stern talking-to, we stepped in closer to ourselves with more kindness? This could be transformative, couldn’t it? Even as we judged ourselves – or were judged – negatively.

Rick’s particular emphasis is on standing up for yourself, as you would for someone else. Perhaps your child, or someone you feel is being unfairly treated. How often, you could ask yourself, do you treat yourself unfairly?

My focus is on raising awareness of unhelpful self-talk that impacts your mood and capability.

Embracing Self-Compassion: A Key to Public Speaking Confidence

Then taking a step back once you’re aware of this self-talk, and replacing it – gently – with the reminder to be kind to yourself, and to be “on your own side”.

This can be both calming, soothing and helpful, when used in this sense. And it’s not weak, or going to mean that you fluff about and chill out. You don’t have to be “on” and pushing yourself all the time. Especially around something as sensitive as public speaking confidence-building.

Imagine a different, kinder side of your personality coming out. The ‘pusher’ part has gone off for a punishing gym session lifting weights that are too heavy for it…and in its place is the nurturing, humane part of you.

How does this idea make you feel? What thoughts come up when you think of the kinder part stepping up? When I do this, I have a sense of relief…that I can take a big breath and let go of the pushing for a moment. And a moment can be all that’s needed to find a new reference point.

If you’re not convinced, maybe see it as a sign that this could be important for you, and focus on. I say maybe: nothing is certain. It’s definitely worth contemplating.

If you’d like to try out the concept guided by Rick himself, go here.

Best wishes with your speaking and presentations!

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