In my work as a therapist and performance coach, I clearly understand why people succeed and what causes them to fail.
These patterns are incredibly consistent. There are unique challenges that women may face that add even more complexity.
To move forward in life, we need to understand what is getting in our way and why these blocks, or blocks, are so challenging for us.
I consistently see three key areas that people need to master to move from wanting to make change or improvement to achieving what they want.
These are confidence in themselves, clarity of direction and consistency of action. And the reality is that everything starts with having confidence in ourselves. After all, if we don’t believe in ourselves, how can others believe in us? As we grow our confidence, we gain greater clarity, and as we grow our confidence, instead of avoiding action, we more easily take consistent steps to move forward.
In my BOOST coaching programmes, I work with women in business to create deep-rooted self-confidence by leveraging the latest understanding of neuroscience, helping woman train their minds to give them the right thoughts, responses and habits of thought and action.
In this blog, I will focus on sharing how you can be a more confident and compelling speaker, being better able to put yourself in front of an audience and establish your credibility. Firstly, let’s understand a little more about what challenges women in business face and why.
When we asked women in business what their most significant barriers to success were, we consistently heard the following answers—a lack of confidence, discomfort at being in the spotlight, or feelings of being an impostor. When you ask the same question to pretty much any group of women in business, you get the same kind of answers.
I worked recently with a leading academic. She was one of the youngest professors in one of the world’s most prestigious Universities, working at the cutting edge of scientific research. She told me, however, that whenever she knew, she would have to stand in front of a group of people, she would become overwhelmed by fear. She would have panic attacks; she would sometimes need to run to the toilets and vomit before presenting a lecture to her students. She knew it made no logical sense but emotionally, she felt like an imposter. The root cause of her issue went back to childhood. It went back to feeling different in school and being laughed at as a kid when she stood up in class to express her opinions.
There are many reasons why people need more confidence. Often lack of self-belief stems right back to childhood, maybe we felt different, or perhaps we were laughed at when we had to read something out in class. These childhood experiences leave a mark on our subconscious mind, telling us to avoid situations where we may feel judged or ridiculed. No child wants to feel stupid or humiliated, and these experiences leave deep scars. So, our minds will work overtime to scare you off being put in a position where you feel the same way. This may surface years later, often at critical moments in our lives or careers.
Many women returning to the workplace feel a sense of self-doubt. Maybe they have taken a career break to have children; they think their skills may have become outdated, and returning to the workplace feels logistically challenging, juggling home and work life.
Likewise, significant life events such as loss, divorce, illness, or redundancy could knock our confidence. We begin to doubt ourselves and to start seeing problems instead of solutions.
The most critical thing to do is to focus on what we are good at and worry less about what we're not so good at. We get more of what we focus on. So, if we focus on our weaknesses and failures, we get more of those things. If we focus on our strengths and our abilities, we give more energy to doing things that we are good at and enjoy. And when we focus on the things we're good at and enjoy, we will progress in those areas. That makes us feel good about ourselves. Paying attention to the items you are good at gives your mind proof that you are good enough and can succeed at what you set your mind to. Even the tasks we find most difficult can become less daunting.
If you have conditioned your mind to see your life as failing and challenging, your mind will protect you from that, and you will always run away or hide from changes and opportunities because you want to avoid the pain of failure. If you set your mind to focus on your problems and difficulties, you are programming your mind to make the challenges bigger than they are. This will lead your mind to consistently push you into avoidance, procrastination and giving up when the going gets tough. Why? Quite simply because our mind wants to protect us from pain and hurt.
If we want to live the life we want, we must move from living in fear to living in possibility. This is a fundamental, conscious choice that we must make. Will we allow ourselves to live our future in fear of what may go wrong or live in the possibility of having what we want in our lives? When we choose to live in opportunity, we see solutions. When we live in fear, we see problems. When we live in fear, we feel weak and down and have low energy. When we live in possibility, we feel more assertive and upbeat and radiate out energy that inspires those around us.
If you want to progress in your life or career projects, you must develop the confidence and the ability to put yourself ‘out there.’ You must be prepared to speak up in a group; you must be able to stand or sit in front of people and present your ideas or proposals. If you are starting or running your own business, you need to be comfortable being in front of a camera, on stage, or on a podcast. You have to build your brand.
Whether working in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur, your personal brand is everything. Because it's not enough to just be good at what you do, you need to be heard, to be able to influence others and to be seen as high value. When you are all seen as being high value in whatever you do, your worth will increase exponentially. Because it's no longer enough to be good, people must know that you are good.
If You want to get the job you want, if you want to get paid what you are worth, if you want to get people to support your mission or worthwhile cause, you have to be able to convince people of your worth and the worth of your argument or reason.
Many of you will know that you need to get comfortable speaking up in public in front of an audience, but this is a terrifying thought for most people. For many of us, speaking in front of an audience makes us want the ground to open. However, it doesn't have to be like that. You can learn to like public speaking and even come to love it.
So, we know why people fear public speaking. It's the fear of looking stupid, being laughed at, maybe feeling like that kid in the classroom who forgot their words or got the answer wrong, and all the other kids laughed and pointed at them.
So, when we are faced with situations where we have to speak in public, we often get incredibly anxious beforehand; we will probably massively over-prepare, writing out a script, having all sorts of prompts and comfort blankets to help us should we forget something we wanted to say. We put in hours and hours of effort focused on the wrong things.
So, let's reset this and discuss the reality of speaking to an audience. And we should always start by thinking about our audience. So let me tell you some facts you need to understand about your audience's thoughts.
First of all, no matter how brilliant your content is, most people will remember a maximum of 20% of what you say. Think about that for a moment. If an audience sits through a presentation, they will remember up to two or three things you said. What should you focus on when preparing a presentation if your audience only remembers two or three things?
So, remembering everything you plan to say is one of the least important things in a presentation. Yet most presenters, when preparing to speak to an audience, obsess over remembering everything they need to say. They try to remember word for word what they planned to say. They've got the speech written out. They've got those cards they maybe hold in front of them while speaking. They possibly have a screen that they're looking at so they can read the words. and then when they're speaking should they forget to say something they wanted to say, they get thrown totally off course, they start to stumble and beat themselves up because they failed to say something they'd written down.
Because of this focus on saying word for word what we want to say, what do you think happens? We become tense. We become static; our voice and our mannerisms portray our nervousness. We come across as being nervous and lacking authority.
What do audiences remember? They remember how speakers make them feel as an audience. They remember how you made them feel, and if you're lucky, they'll absorb two or three things you told them.
So, what does this mean? This means you must focus only on two things when presenting to others. You need to focus on engaging with your audience and making them feel good, and you need to think of two or three points that you want them to take away. That's it. Your realistic aim must make people remember the two or three things that matter.
1. Forget about having a script you need to read or try and memorise. You will only get anxious trying to remember this word for word, and you will disengage your audience. You are reading a script that signals that the speaker doesn’t know the subject. They will come across as anxious, which translates into a lack of credibility with their audience. While you are trying to remember every word you need to say, they will remember nothing.
2. Just know the three points you want to make. That is all you need to do. You should think about your opening and closing words; if you need to, you could jot down some bullet points for these parts. Now I am sure that if you're talking about a subject you are close to or you're passionate about, you will know plenty about the three points you need to make, you will be very comfortable with the content, and you'll easily be able to deal do the questions that you may get.
3. Focus on how you make your audience feel. Smile from the first moment and make eye contact with people in the audience (especially the friendly ones). When you smile, your body will relax and feel less tense. When you smile, you release a chemical reaction in your body that makes you feel happier—even forcing yourself to smile tricks your mind into thinking that you're enjoying the situation and that you are satisfied.
What’s more, when you smile, see what happens with your audience. When you look relaxed and enjoy being there, they will mirror that. This is one of the most powerful things you can do right at the outset of any presentation because those first few moments set the scene for the impact that you will have on your audience.
4. Think about the questions you want to be asked and what people are likely to ask you. Most people who have to do a presentation wish to get through the presentation and get to the end. They dread getting questions, hating that they might be put on the spot or asked something difficult. The reality is that questions are the most crucial part of any presentation. However, most people obsess about the details of their presentation, remembering everything they want to say to the detriment of thinking about the questions and answers. When you liberate yourself by knowing that you only need to make two or three points, you can spend far less time preparing the presentation itself to give more time dealing with those all-important questions and objections.
This is the opportunity for you to shine, to show that you understand the subject and, that you have an opinion, that you are a person of value. If you have watched Dragons Den or Shark Tank, you will know that the questions after the presentation make or break the pitch. So be ready for this. Welcome it. Questions mean your audience is engaged.
Sometimes you'll get asked a question you don't know the answer to. That’s okay. You say you don't know the answer, and you'll get back to them. But I guarantee that if you're talking about a subject that you know and are passionate about, you will learn far more than your audience, and your audience will want to hear your opinion.
5. Get Yourself in the zone. Have a routine well you get yourself in the right frame of mind before presenting. I like to sit down in a quiet place, relax and give myself positive affirmations. I may do a little self-meditation or self-hypnosis. I tell myself that I know my subject and have interesting things to say, but my audience is there because they want to hear me, but I'm looking forward to this opportunity. I tell myself I am excited. I may go for a little walk, get some fresh air or do anything that relaxes me. What I don't do, is he starts looking at scripts. The most I will do around my content at this stage is to remind myself of the two or three points that I want to make, comfortable and knowledge that I'm very familiar with my subject. Finally, I will make myself smile and step out into the room all the stage, ready to make that all-important first impression.
Jonathan Butler Works with women in business to give them the confidence to succeed and the clarity of direction to proceed. He does this through his BOOST Performance Coaching Programme. Combining his exceptional business know-how with his Deep expertise in psychotherapy, Jonathan developed BOOST Performance Coaching to show ambitious people the route to success and instil the mindset to complete that journey.
Jonathan helps women in business develop deep-rooted self-belief and learn to love doing things they find difficult. Many women feel uncomfortable promoting themselves. Business owners and leaders must create a strong personal brand and convey their personality and passion. In his workshop, Jonathan will share top performers' secrets and help you love being in front of the camera, on stage, or with a microphone in your hand.
You can find out more about Jonathan my visiting his coaching website.
or his therapy website
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