Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cheryl Richardson & your inner critic

Are you your worst critic when it comes to public speaking? Author and life coach Cheryl Richardson, in her book Stand Up for Your Life: A Practical Step-by-Step Plan to Build Inner Confidence and Personal Power, calls her own public speaking career "a wonderful opportunity to work with my inner critic." She describes how she came to realize that she feared her own criticisms more than those of the audience, and the poor results that make a speaker's self-criticism come true:

The moment you give power to the stream of negative thoughts by self-consciously analyzing what you're saying, you lose connection with your audience. The end result is exactly what you fear most--a less than desirable presentation.

Richardson's chapter on "Stop Hiding Your Power" looks at ways you may be self-sabotaging in more areas than public speaking, though all are relevant considerations for would-be eloquent women: how you speak about yourself and others, accept compliments, present your image, and handle that inner critic. There's a series of exercises designed to get you to think those issues through, and ultimately, to turn your inner critic into an ally. And a later chapter on building courage recalls her first speaking opportunity at a Toastmasters meeting--a story any nervous speaker can relate to. You'll find it difficult to recognize Richardson, who makes hundreds of public speaking appearance and is featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, XM Radio and the Oxygen Network. (Go here to see audio and video clips.)

Whether you work through this issue on your own, with a group, or with a coach, every speaker will benefit from considering her own inner critic and whether it's standing in the way of your success. I'm often struck by the number of trainees I encounter who have devised a list of criticisms that are apparent to no one but themselves when it comes to their speaking style. Check out our poll this month on what your inner critic is saying--and work to dispel those thoughts.

Buy Stand Up for Your Life: A Practical Step-by-Step Plan to Build Inner Confidence and Personal Power