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Posts Tagged ‘confidence

Every Saturday morning that I’m in town, I walk over to the farmer’s market near where I live (a cute neighborhood in Oakland, California, right by a lake). I love buying organic fruits and vegetables, in season, straight from the people who grow them – and have gotten to be friends with some of the vendors too.

At the farmer’s market, I’ve made it a regular practice to buy flowers. Sometimes I see a glint in a passerby’s eye, a “knowing look,” wondering what lucky woman is getting them.

But they’re for me. That’s right: every week I buy myself flowers. Sure, if I’m dating someone, she may be getting flowers too. 🙂 But I first buy for myself the color and arrangement that I intuitively feel will nurture me that week. And when I look at them across from my desk over the coming days, I feel kindness toward myself.

It’s a self-love practice.

Self-love is one of the most important things we need to find confidence – in life, and certainly as speakers. 

As you know, we are our own biggest critics. Which means that we’re generally the ones getting in our own way, and stopping ourselves from enjoying life and appreciating our successes. For example, many speakers get angry at themselves when they make a mistake.

Have you ever had a speaking engagement, or something else with high stakes, where it mostly went well… except for that one thing didn’t go quite right? Did you fixate on that one little issue, and blow it out of proportion? Or, did you notice it, take note of what to adjust for next time, and then appreciate all of your hard work as well as everything that went well?

Yes, it’s possible to do that! But it takes practice, and changing our orientation around what happens when things don’t go as planned.

One of the most essential aspects of speaking, and confidence, is our relationship to ourselves. Instead of being self-critical, could you be kind to yourself? Become your best friend, instead of your worst critic?

For some, self-love feels like a tall order. So I often start my clients off with generating compassion instead, using a compassion meditation that begins to change their response to themselves. This is a repatterning of self-destructive thoughts and feelings that, unfortunately, we pretty much all do. Your goal is to be able to be kind to yourself when something doesn’t go right – when speaking, or in life.

There’s much more to the topic of dealing with “making mistakes” (if there really is such a thing), including more fully trusting the flow of life. And we can develop greater capacity for handling whatever arises – because with public speaking (and everything else, for that matter), it will never quite go as we expect! Still, generating lovingkindness toward ourselves is a pretty great place to start.

So, whether you buy yourself flowers, do a metta/compassion/lovingkindness meditation, or another practice, please: be kind to yourself. I guarantee that when you are nicer to the person you spend the most time with – yourself – you’ll not only feel better. Your audience (and everyone else, for that matter) will also sense this, and feel safer with you as a result… and welcome you into their hearts even more.

Will you share your comments and feelings about this below? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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I’ve talked a lot recently about the fear of speaking, because it holds so many people back from speaking their truth – as well as from using speaking to easily get clients. However, for many, there’s a bigger problem:

Confidence.

Why in the world should confidence be a problem?

To be honest (which I always am – it’s my M.O. – but I’ve never addressed this before), I’ve never loved the term. Yes, this is true even though “confidence” is in the subtitle of my upcoming training and I talk about it a lot. Why? Because for many, it is about the ego. For example, I’ve heard many coaches declare, “You just gotta be confident!”… as if implying that confidence is easy, or that it can be somehow pasted on. Often, confidence is forced or misguided. When confidence isn’t 100% real, your nonverbal communication looks forced and pushes people away. 

This is different than true confidence – which is completely relaxed – even humble, because you don’t need to prove anything to anyone… including yourself. It’s largely a reflection of being present,  centered, and being able to deal with anything.

And while you can fake confidence, what cannot be forced is presence… and self-acceptance… and deep connection with an audience.

Here’s the biggest problem with confidence, though:

When we’re confident, it’s easy to think we know everything.

And no one knows everything. In my 17 years of coaching public speaking, I’ve never seen a single speaker, be it live or on YouTube, who couldn’t improve. 

Every day, I see confident speakers making basic mistakes – ones that can be easily rectified.

Here are the biggest problems that confident speakers and networkers have:

  • Not authentically connecting with the audience. And if they don’t connect with you, they won’t be moved to work with you.
  • Mistaking loud volume for being a dynamic speaker. I focus with clients on 6 primary vocal dynamics, 4 advanced speaking styles, and powerful ways to use gestures, facial expressions and body language. Most speakers don’t even get close to exploring their full range.
  • Not being grounded, centered and totally relaxed. This is part of what creates presence – and it’s hard to be centered when speaking, which is a heightened experience! This takes practice, technique, and a fantastic warm-up routine to help you get “in the zone.”
  • Not realizing that speaking in front of larger groups, and other high stakes situations like selling from the stage, can cause you to lose your confidence. We all need methods to become more relaxed and centered, when on a growing edge.
  • Skipping public speaking essentials. Can I tell you how often I see confident speakers betraying themselves by using ineffective body language, a plethora of “ums” and more? Far more than I’d like. Oy vey.

The strength of people without confidence is that they realize they need to learn. And who doesn’t need to grow?  For yourself – and to grow your business?

If you haven’t seen it, I’d like to invite you to check out my free video training on speaking with confidence and presence, at http://www.yourtruevoice.org.

And I  also invite you to my 10-week online program: Claim Your Voice: Speak with Power and Presence. Details and Registration: http://ClaimYourVoiceNow.com

If you consider yourself a confident speaker, in Claim Your Voice you’ll also learn how to get more comfortable when selling from the stage and other high-stakes situations. And learn a ton of other skills – read my article on The Public Speaking Must-Haves.

In any case, here’s the deal with confidence… it’s pretty much 3 things: getting the skills you need,  relaxing/centering, and trusting your capacity to handle anything that happens.

Which of these is your next step?

–Jonathan Bender, MS, MFA, WholeSpeak  – http://www.WholeSpeak.com


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