"I Will Never Enjoy Public Speaking!" Really?
“I will never enjoy public speaking!” she said.
On the second morning of a two day public speaking workshop, one of my clients was adamant that she would never want to speak in front of a group, never enjoy the experience and never volunteer to speak in front of others. An accomplished and highly educated professional, experienced and trained in logic and debate, she still could not see how it was possible.
“I disagree, you will!” I said.
One hour later, she completed a witty and humorous presentation that segued into a very serious topic. She was smiling, engaging her audience, telling sarcastic jokes and providing the emotional and intellectual basis of a sustained argument on a difficult topic. We were delighted and enthralled.
When she sat down I asked her, “Did you enjoy that?”
“No ‘buts’, just ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” I insisted. “Did you enjoy that?”
“Then you enjoyed public speaking. But just two hours ago, you were telling me you would never enjoy it!”
Her face lit up, realising her breakthrough. She went away from the workshop enthused about her newfound skills, with an awakened desire to speak more. This was a critical skill in her position and profession, so she was able to use it to be far more successful.
There’s a line of thinking in personal development that says “Go with your strengths” and leaves it there. If we want to continue to grow as leaders and as people, we must not just use our strengths, we must build on them.
I built a path for someone to enjoy public speaking – the world’s number one fear. I often build paths for people to enjoy all kinds of aspects of their work – organisation, management, communication, strategy, leadership – by digging past what they do to what they are passionate about - where they are already strong - and then translating that into developing the skills they need.
Empty affirmations are not enough. I don’t just have people repeat a mantra: “I will enjoy public speaking.” Nor is it about accessing some hidden psycholinguistic power that will knock people over with your subconscious energy wave. (Using ‘subconscious’ implies you’re a Freudian, by the way.)
I found an entry point for this person’s development and her courage that allowed her to use her intellect to speak about something of importance to her. She used her passion about her topic and the understanding about public speaking that I conveyed in order to overcome her fear of speaking in front of others. She put forth the effort and reaped the rewards.
Use what you enjoy to develop new skills and be careful, don’t ever tell me you could never enjoy public speaking.
(c) 2021 Peter J. McLean petermclean.online