The pilot of Journey to Confidence has just concluded and I am busy wrapping it up and getting ready to open the program up for enrollment again. Meanwhile I want to share with you some of the insights that the first group of students had.
Torna Pitman has been a university lecturer, and so is a reasonably experienced presenter. She was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at a workshop on domestic violence. As her topic was controversial – Coercive Control – Torna knew that there could be some push-back from the audience, so this was potentially a nerve-wracking situation. She was hoping that Journey to Confidence would prepare her for this presentation.
A major insight for Torna during the Journey to Confidence program was that she tended to view presenting as all about herself – how she was coming across or how credible she was.
Making it all about you
This is very common. Many of us are concerned about ourselves, and the possibility that we won’t be enough for the audience. As a result when we’re up in front of the audience, we put on a persona.
I did this for a long, long time. My speaking career started in Toastmasters, and it led me into thinking that every speech was a performance, something that I put on. I didn’t actually see, let alone connect, with people. I was too busy being a performer on stage.
I’ve also seen this time and time again when I’m running a two-day course. On the first day of the course I get to know the participants on the course as I help them plan their presentations. Then on the second day they deliver their presentation, and sometimes I think, “Where is the person who I got to know yesterday?”. They became someone else.
There are three problems with becoming someone else, with putting on a persona, when you’re presenting:
- It’s exhausting. You’re putting out so much energy that at the end of your speech you are just spent.
- It’s very easy to feel like a fraud (and in a sense you are), and so imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.
- And finally, it’s very difficult to authentically connect with an audience when you’re not being yourself. If you’re not being yourself, who is there for the audience to connect with?
Instead of thinking about yourself, think about how you can best serve the audience. How can you leave them better off by listening to you? You can serve the audience with two things:
1. The content that you share
The content that you share is the foundation of any speech or talk. It’s non-negotiable – you have to have valuable content for your audience. Else, why would you be speaking? And serve your audience by making it as easy as possible for them to process and remember that content.
2. The connection that you make
This is what makes a presentation – a presentation, or a speech – a speech. This is why we do it. Otherwise, we could just put everything in writing. It makes a difference to see the person in front of us and make that personal connection, and that’s what presenting and speaking enables you to do.
Making this mindshift (and many other aspects of Journey to Confidence) made a big difference for Torna for her high-pressure presentation:
“Journey to Confidence gradually led me to a state where I knew I could do it. The program gave me ways to look after myself and make sure I was stable (keeping my demons at bay) so that then I could look after the audience. Once I was in front of the audience, there was no stopping me, I was on fire!
The personal feedback I’ve received has been amazing. Many people have said “You’re a phenomenal presenter!”
But most important is that I got my message across – domestic violence providers are rethinking their approach as a result of my presentation.”
If you’re interested in taking part in the next round of Journey to Confidence click here to be one of the first to be notified when I open it for enrollment.
Note: After much thought I have decided to make the Journey to Confidence program for women only. This is for two reasons:
1. The pilot program became women-only because the men who were enrolled discontinuing for various reasons (mainly time issues) and the women-only environment worked well.
2. Though both men and women suffer from confidence issues, some of the issues are gender specific and as a woman I feel I am more able to help women.