Make the decision, show up and let go! Three keys to becoming the speaker you always wanted to be!
“I really am good enough. I really can do this and do it well. I have a lot of support. Just take a deep breath and share your heart.”
This was me, giving myself a pep talk before my May 22 concert. This was something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I’d thought about it, talked to people about it, prepared for it, and now here it was. People I knew, and people I didn’t know, would be attending and looking to me and my partners to bring it. They’d paid good money to be entertained and inspired. What made this different from every other time I’d been on stage? Confronting my concept of myself as a professional artist and musician who could hold a room as the singer/songwriter. While I’ve been a professional singer for a long time and worked with amazing musicians and other artists, this was me showing up and saying, “If you invest your time and money with me, you will be happy you did!” This wasn’t part of something else. We were showcasing our own music. For me, this was a big deal.
Certainly, the amount of time, skill building and experience I’d put into this was paramount to know how to connect with my audience, feel confident and enjoy myself, and deal with the unexpected surprises that came up (including problems with the sound system!). Just as important was cultivating my mindset. As I’m sure you’ve heard, much of the game is mental.
I work with people every day who want to become better speakers and presenters. They want to feel more confident communicating their ideas in front of their audiences. They want to share their enthusiasm for their work and inspire act ion. They want to make a difference. Sometimes I’m asked, “How long will it take me to be able to speak comfortably and really get my message across?” I do deliver programs that address specific goals, so yes, you can get better and be more effective given specific training and opportunity. What I can’t say is, in the next 12 weeks, or six months, or year, you’ll have cultivated the mindset you need and want to allow yourself to step in front of your group without fear and hit it out of the park every time! I couldn’t have anticipated what it would take for me to be ready to do this concert. What I can say is this:
- It’s not about the time frame. It’s about the commitment. If you really want to see how far you can go, give yourself the gift of time. The people who’ve come the furthest in the shortest amount of time are not those who have some special talent or attribute. They are the ones who decide to take it on and do the work. They stay with it. In fact, letting go of that time frame is an important part of the process. If you’re holding yourself to some kind of “I better get it done by X,” you could be disappointed. We are, and the process is, much more creative than that. There are ups and downs. Creative breakthroughs come when you least expect them. When you know you’re committed, you can be patient and enjoy your journey. We all work with deadlines and resources, so it’s certainly possible to break that commitment into pieces and go at your own pace. It’s the commitment that’s important.
- Get comfortable with not being in control. Yikes! That’s a big one, yes? Personally, we get the best results when we let ourselves dive into the process. That means allowing surprises. Not having to know everything. Not always trying to make sense of something. It means being open to exp lore and discover something new about yourself.As a speaker, there are things you can control, and things you can’t. You can control your preparation and your professionalism. You can show up ready to go, get there early and make sure your logistics and AV are set, and smile and greet your guests. You can bring your best every time (which can change under different circumstances). Through content, skill development and getting comfortable being yourself in front of an audience, you can influence your listeners. If you do all that, you can be satisfied, even thrilled, with your performance. What you can’t control are other people, whether or not the stock market crashes the morning of your event, or if your speech or presentation time gets cut in half because the person before you went too long. You can learn how to move through changes, disruptions and distractions gracefully, though.
- Embrace your awesomeness! You wouldn’t think that would be a tough thing to do, but for many of us, it is! We have to let go of a story that we’re nervous, or don’t know enough, or have to finish this one last piece before we can put ourselves out there. I’ve experienced it and I’ve coached people through it. Truth is, at some point, you trust you’re sufficient to the cause. That’s not a sexy word, I know. It is, however, a freeing word. If you’re dealing with any level of perfectionism (and who isn’t?!), knowing that you’ve done enough to show up and deliver your message will help you break through that fear that you, or your material, are just not quite ready. I’ve been on plenty of stages and I can tell you that even great speakers make mistakes, as do musicians and athletes and everyone else . Look at the Olympics — the greatest gymnast in the world can miss the handhold! You have something to share that is going to make a huge difference. Just take a deep breath and embrace your awesomeness!
- Along with that awesomeness, remember to take a huge helping of humility.
None of us gets where we are by ourselves. None of us lives in a vacuum. We’ve all been the fortunate recipients of an abundant universe and many loving friends and family who have supported us so we are in a position to influence others. We might be the one on the platform, we are all people who “put our pants on one leg at a time,” but we are all people. Knowing this keeps us firmly on the ground and relating beautifully to our audience. They deserve that. Being humble is not only a very good thing, it’s really the only thing.
- Share your gratitude with those who help you. The AV person is one of the most important people you as the speaker will ever work with. This is the person who makes it possible for us to do our thing. Without them, life would be difficult. The people who accompany us on our journey deserve our respect, our gratitude and our wholehearted support. Make sure you let them know in all kinds of ways. If an issue arises, be honest and treat them with dignity. There is a saying — how you do one thing is how you do everything. Become known as the person who knows each person is valuable and shows that through your actions.
All this work is ultimately to help you be your authentic self and speak from your authentic voice. I’d love to support you. I can be reached at Andrea@AndreaBeaulieu.com