Journey to Confidence

A 10 week online program to help women who identify as introverts
speak to groups and do video with confidence.

My Big Why

If you’re new here, the snazzy bed background is because my bedroom has become my office, while I recover from an accident.

I’m an introvert. And for the first half of my life I was shy as well.

It’s made such a difference in my life to be able to speak up more, to express myself and what’s important to me – to my family and friends, and in my work. Sometimes that’s been one-on-one, other times, speaking to groups.

I’m still a work in progress, working on expressing myself more, particularly when it comes to controversial issues, or when I am concerned I’ll disappoint someone.

Being able to express yourself when it matters is a core part of living a meaningful life. I want to give that gift to you too.

And it’s important for humanity.

We need to be able to speak up when we see something happening that seems wrong. For example, in your workplace, speaking up when a colleague makes a joke that disparages a minority.

We need to be able to speak up to be the voice for what needs to change in our society, whether that’s action on climate change, racial justice, or sexual harrassment.

That’s my Big Why.

What’s your Big Why? Let me know in the comments (you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page).

19 Comments

  1. Alicia Hall

    I went to many different schools as a child and being the new kid in class made me feel quite insecure. This isn’t the only reason though. A big lack of self confidence and an inferiority complex also played a part of how I developed. I no longer have this problem, but when having to speak in front of our church I get heart palpitations just getting my thoughts lined up…

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Thank you for sharing your story with us, Alicia.

      I get that constantly changing schools when you were a child would be very difficult.

      What will it mean to you now if you can overcome your fear?

    • Alicia

      I am a newly qualified Community Artist and after doing a number of workshops I am now mostly relaxed. I want to become a speaker on topics of weight and wellbeing, but I want to be a confident speaker because listening to a nervous speaker isn’t a good experience. I do understand it is partially about doing your research and practising.

    • Olivia Mitchell

      That’s fantastic Alicia, and it sounds like you have already travelled some way on your Journey to Confidence.

      Have you been told that you look nervous when you’re presenting? My experience coaching hundreds of people in front of an audience, is that even when the speaker is very nervous, most of the audience cannot tell.

      However, I agree with you, that if the speaker is visibly nervous it can make the audience uncomfortable.

      Knowing your material and rehearsing is part of it (if you don’t know your material and haven’t rehearsed you deserve to be nervous ;-)). But even when you have done all the research and rehearsal, most of us have some degree of nervousness around speaking.

  2. p webby

    I was confident as a kid with something to say and able to speak out. But negative voices and commentary from others over the years eg(being a goody two shoes, a know it all, teachers pet, family comments that I wasn’t as bright as the rest of the family have become my own voice. end result -fear of speaking confidently in public coughing attacks, voice goes hoarse, words come out back to front, anxiety levels underneath – off the scale. I avoid opportunities and undersell my skillset.

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Oh P, the way others talked about you is very sad. I’ve always thought that the ditty “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is obviously wrong! Words do hurt us so much.

      If you could overcome these negative voices that you’ve internalised, what would you like to do? What will it make possible for you? A new career? A voice in the community? Helping other people in some way?

      And let’s get that little kid back!

  3. Si P

    I’m confident in the company of most people I know or meet, but speaking to a group makes me feel like I’m on the spot. Suddenly all eyes are on me and I feel very uncomfortable.

    Even after rehearsing I find myself wandering off-topic and losing focus. Not sure if it’s a nerves thing. Either way I want to remain “on point”.

    Overcoming this will enable me to feel energised when delivering talks, updates, presentations and workshops that in turn make my audience want to listen and engage. I want to do this within my current role and outside of work in educating kids about STEM.

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Thank you Si, it’s disconcerting when you’re not as clear and focused as you want to be, particularly when most of the time you are. It’s common for many people, including extroverts, to feel some discomfort when all eyes are on them, so you are not alone.

      I love your Big Why. Sounds like you do quite a bit of speaking and becoming more present and connected with your audience will make a real difference.

  4. Torna

    Hi Olivia its great you are raising this important issue. I have often felt quite open mouthed and shocked at the say some people respond publicly to speakers. I have had it happen to me that there will be people in the audience who can be disrespectful, chatting on the side, adversarial etc and it really can put me off my stride! As a social worker, I need to speak out about big issues in front of many people at times so I am looking to get more skillful at presenting to an audience that can present challenges!

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Thank you Torna, sounds like you’ve been in some challenging presentation situations.

      One of the things I’ve found helpful both as a trainer and a speaker, is to assume that everyone who I interact with is doing the best they can in the circumstances that they find themselves in.

      17 years ago I stood as a Green Party candidate in both local and parliamentary elections in New Zealand. At that time, the Green Party was still very much a fringe party and seen as a bit “nuts” by more conservative people. At “Meet the Candidate” meetings I was regularly heckled. I managed to keep my dignity, by making the assumption that the heckler was doing the best they could. I could respond to the heckler and then get back on track.

  5. Glenna

    I donated my kidney to a stranger last year and now want to increase awareness of living kidney donation!

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Glenna, lovely to hear from you (you’re already on my “Most Committed List” :-)). That’s an amazing issue to talk about, and a huge Big Why!

  6. Louise

    Hi Olivia, your empathetic and positive comments are encouraging! I’ve got years of experience in nursing and have always been drawn to the development of people. One-on-one sessions work really well and I can build into people’s lives in a meaningful way. However, when having to speak to groups I’m very tense, think I can over-prepare (it’s never good enough) and feel that the delivery can be very rigid. Listening to very anxious speakers raises my sympathy, but also anxiety, knowing what they experience, so agreeing with Alicia on that point! I would like to accept some of the speaker invitations that I currently reject, share knowledge and experience and become ‘connected’ at conferences.

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Louise, thank you for your kind words.

      And I get how annoying it is that something that comes so naturally to you when you’re one-on-one is difficult when it’s a group.

      I think those of use who get nervous about speaking also suffer most when listening to a nervous speaker because our empathy is so high!

      The world needs to hear from you – so I love your Big Why.

  7. Olivia Mitchell

    This is from Margaret (quoted with permission):

    “Olivia, thanks for putting this together.
    My experience is that in groups I often find myself hanging back and having to think things through and by the time I’ve marshalled my thoughts it’s too late to contribute to the discussion. I also want to put myself forward to do some public speaking about issues that are important to me and that I am passionate about, without over preparing to the point of paralysis. But if I don’t put in a lot of preparation I can find myself flailing around.It’s a real double-bind for me.”

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Margaret, I can so relate to the issue of hanging back in groups and then by the time I had thought about what I wanted to say, the discussion had moved on – this was the story of my life!

      Regarding preparation – it’s not so much the amount of preparation, but the way that you prepare. When you join Journey to Confidence (I’m hoping you will :-)), you’ll also get Nail that Presentation which is our flagship program to help plan an effective and engaging presentation. You will find that so useful to avoid the over-preparing/under-preparing pendulum.

      I’m excited about being able to help you speak about the issues that are important to you.

  8. Marie Waldron

    I’ve always struggled with my weight growing up and have judged myself quite harshly in most cases. This filtered into when I would speak, I can easily yell out funny comical comments to people and make them laugh, but when I say something of importance I end up going bright red and then listening to myself in the ‘third person’. I end up judging what I say, lose concentration and track of what I’m actually saying and then try to finish up as fast as possible. It’s even to the point where I’ve started going bright red at work in a lot of conversations or meetings.
    I previously missed out on opportunities because I was too scared to present and I just don’t want to be that person anymore. I’ve overcome so much in life and this would make such a huge difference to me, I could become that inspiring speaker that I know I am deep inside and to be able to have a freedom voicing with my thoughts and expressions in such a powerful way would be the best ever gift I could give myself.
    I don’t want to have this be a “failure” or negative experience any more. Saying all the above and knowing what I will face in the course has me petrified but I want this more than I want the negative experience/history of it.

    Reply
    • Olivia Mitchell

      Marie, you show so much courage that I am sure you can deal with this. I totally get that situation of listening to yourself in the third person – like having an out-of-body experience.

      And I get that going bright red is a particularly annoying symptom of nervousness because other people do sometimes notice it (not always). But it is solvable, and we will solve it!

  9. Amparo C.

    Like almost everyone, I experience ‘butterflies’ in my stomach when I need to speak to a group. The big issue with me is that they seem to fly up my body and take a hold of my voice, so it comes out very shaky, and the sound of it makes me feel self-conscious and insecure, no matter how well I have prepared. I have tried positive self-talk, meditation, affirmations, journalling… You name it! I also joined Toastmasters to help me with practice and support, and although it has definitely helped me become a more polished speaker (avoiding filler words, helping me put words together better and giving me opportunities to get out of my comfort zone often), I still haven’t been able to control my nerves well enough to avoid them taking control of my voice.

    The main reason I want to overcome this, aside from sounding confident when I speak in all situations, is to be able to better help others develop their own public speaking skills and confidence: The Toastmasters program is great and it has inspired me to lead a youth group to achieve public speaking confidence and develop leadership skills through practice in a supportive and friendly environment. The group is amazing and inspires me to push myself to continue making this effort to overcome the grip of nerves over my voice!

    Reply

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