On Monday I taught a workshop on public speaking for video, and as usual I ask the audience to segment themselves into three categories. I use a color code similar to the homeland security threat levels. Green is for those who are agreeable to speak when asked; yellow for those “hesitant but willing to do it if they have to”; and red for those who dislike it so much they will find any reason NOT to do it.
Then I selected someone who identified as red and asked her to tell us about the moment she DECIDED she would never speak in public again. She gave me that “thanks a lot” look, and then recalled a painful high school speech class experience. Whenever I ask this question, the “red” person is almost always able to recall a moment in their youth when they were embarrassed, humiliated or mocked. It could be a speech, a botched audition or a performance at a family reunion.
Sometimes the foundation of fear runs even deeper. The person had chronic disapproval from a parent, or an oppressive boss or a coach who told them they’d never make the team. There are so many insidious ways we can be exposed to those words… “you are not enough.”
The problem is… we receive and accept those words. Here we are as adults knowing full well that our careers and our lives could level up if we could speak up, but the faulty wiring short-circuits our voices. And we fall back on that permanent label we have sewed on to our identities… “I am not a speaker.”
Is this you, my friend?
I don’t have to tell you that the business environment has evolved. Surely, you’ve already been told that being able to speak effectively to a group will help your career. You can attract more prospects and bring in more business using video in social channels. Maybe it’s worth it to consider changing your label?
There is no miracle overnight cure. It requires a lot of time and effort to create positive experiences to overwhelm the negative stories from your past. You will get better with coaching, practice and peer review. You will make a whole bunch of mistakes and you will never be perfect. And I have clients who still don’t like it… but eventually get pretty good at it.
It was worth it for them and it might be worth it for you too.
It begins with a new moment of decision. It’s a decision that nothing from your past has power over you anymore. In fact, join a Toastmasters club and make your icebreaker speech about that catalytic moment from your youth. I have seen this over and over with anxious speakers… it’s cathartic and therapeutic to talk about your pain. It sets you free to share your voice the way it was intended.
I certainly can’t make you do anything. Deciding to transform is up to you.
What if that moment you decided… was now?