Friday, September 25, 2009

Stephanie works on her speaking fears

Here's Stephanie Benoit with her response to my coaching about gaining confidence by using a "fake it till you make it" strategy. In the video, she highlights four tips that stood out for her, and in the post below, she does one part of her homework, which involved writing down the things she fears might go wrong, along with a possible solution for each one--an exercise that moves the speaker from just worrying about what might go wrong to actually envisioning a solution. That plan-ahead process allows you to have that solution in mind when you face the actual situation. Feel free to add tips or advice for Stephanie from your own experience in the comments!

This week's video is about confidence with the focus being "faking it till you make it!" I was given the task of brainstorming a few possible things that may go wrong when speaking publicly and my ideas for solving those problems. Here is my list:

  1. PROBLEM: Losing my train of thought: It's so easy to do this. You may get so wrapped up in a previous point and have gone so far beyond what you initially meant to say, that you don't know how to successfully transition your way back without sounding so choppy. Then you're stuck standing there in silence while you try to figure it out. SOLUTION: it's best that you have 3 solid points that follow some sort of pattern or rhythm, so that it is easier for you remember. I would come up with a rhyme or jingle that only I knew in order to help me remember quickly in case I forgot.

  2. PROBLEM: Sounding Silly or Inexperienced: It's very easy to end up sounding ridiculous when you go above and beyond to impress people. The nerves take over and you make references to things you don't truly know or haven't ever experienced, hoping that this is what they want to hear or will be impressed by. SOLUTION: My advice would be to "go for what you know." You can't anticipate what a bunch of people you don't know want to hear, because, you simply don't know. You have to be confident in the information that you can genuinely provide and hope that it reaches someone. It may not be rocket science, but being able to fully stand behind the things that you say will make you more credible in the long run.

  3. PROBLEM: The reaction you were hoping for is not what you received: We've all been there. Where you say a joke that you think is hilarious, but it takes you much longer to realize no one is lauging because the sound of your loud, not-so-infectious laughter is clouding reality and it's pretty embarrassing. We've also been to the place where you share what, to you, appears to be the secret to life, but no one is moved. This is the part where you wish to sink into the floor and seriously think of ways to do so. SOLUTION: The fact of the matter is everyone isn't going to get your joke, think you're funny, or be earth-shatteringly moved by what you say. You have to be able to bounce back from that by simply moving on. I haven't had that happen to me, but my advice would be to stick to things that the general population is privy to. Stay away from things that only affect a certain culture, class, or demographic. This way, for the most part, everyone will be on the same page.

  4. PROBLEM: Someone interrupts your speech: This is another place I'm sure many of us have been. You've been in a crowd where some very bold person decides to yell something or do something inappropriate to throw the person speaking and/or performing off. If you're really experienced, you may be able to answer back, or make light of it, and move on, but for many, that would stall your speech/presentation. SOLUTION: I'm not sure if there is one solution to this one. I think it depends on exactly what the interruption is. If it's something minute, then you may be able to brush it off, but it's it more disruptive, then other steps would have to be taken. I also think the way to handle it depends on your experience. I'm sure a seasoned speaker would be less baffled and more prepared to deal with that, than a newer speaker.

I hope you enjoyed my list and please feel free to share your own comments, questions, concerns, and experiences. Thanks for the continued support!

--Stephanie Benoit

Related posts: Confidence: How to fake it until you make it

The 15 Weeks to Step Up Your Speaking contest and program