5 Steps for Transforming Self-Consciousness Into Self-Confidence
If you don't have at least some self-consciousness when you speak in public, you may be too cool to connect with the hearts and souls of your listeners.
But then again, galloping stage fright is not helpful. If that's your problem, instead of trying to conquer it, imagine that you can roll it back to a level of performance anxiety that works for you.
Anxiety in public is common to people who care because so much seems to be at stake when the spotlight is on. The problem comes when you attempt to mask the fear with performance technique or by projecting confidence, behaviors that actually hinder rapport.
If this is your challenge, you need to "give up your act" and access your authenticity. Stay tuned for how.
On the other hand, speakers who have not been successful at masking their self-consciousness are actually in a better position to make their performance anxiety work for them, because they have no artifice or facade to give up.
If you are in this group, you need simply give up the notion that you have to be a better performer to succeed. Just let yourself be who you are and follow the suggestions below.
• The key to being at ease with an audience is not in knowing how to speak to thembut knowing how to receive their listening. Take at least one deep breath to "arrive" and invite connection before you speak. Receive support from one or two friendly faces.
• Speak every sentence into the eyes and heart of someone. You can only communicate with one person at a time, never with a whole group at once.
• Effective presentation is about relationship, not performance. The conventional practice of flitting one's eyes from person to person or sweeping the group is distracting. Whereas, staying with one person at a time until you complete a sentence or a thought lets them know that you care and are really there.
• Effective presentation is simply a series of one-on-one conversations. Think of how you are at your best one-on-one with friends. Bring that "relational presence" to groups by always being with only one person at a time. Take a breath of silence when you move from person to person, rather than speaking into the spaces between people. These natural silences are relaxing to them and to you, relieving anxiety in the room, including yours.
• The most compelling thing you can do to earn their trust and loyalty is to be realto be authentically, genuinely yourself. No one can do that as well as you.
When you make a habit of approaching presentations with what you need to know for the situation, while letting that information take a back seat to establishing your relational presence, performance anxiety dissolves naturally. You begin to realize how much more loudly who you are speaks than any words you can say.
Approach your presentations this way and you will soon learn to trust yourself absolutely to think on your feet, thrive in the spotlight, say the right thing at the right time, naturally. Any self-consciousness will slip away, slowly but surely, and quiet confidence will take over.