The Inner Game of Speaking

There’s an erroneous belief firmly entrenched in the minds of many folks who hate to give a speech.  They’re convinced the audience is there to judge them and find them wanting.  They’re sure they’ll forget something important or say something bass-ackwards, garble a sentence, turn red from embarrassment, speak too fast or too slow, and generally show that they’re totally lacking in confidence or competence.  They endure hot flashes, cold sweats, upset stomachs, the shakes, and can’t wait to get it over with.                                               

            Flash!  It’s not true.  The audience is not waiting for you to make a mistake, or licking its lips gleefully to see you make fool of yourself.  On the contrary, the audience is rooting for you. 

            If you’re a skeptic who thinks, ‘Well, that’s easy for her to say, but I know better,” give yourself a break and stop torturing yourself.  Take it on faith.  The audience is on your side.  They want you to succeed. 

            Think about it.  Why is the audience there?  The truth is they came to learn. You have the knowledge and the information they came to get.  They want to know more when they walk out of the room than then did when they came in. 

            You can make that happen.  All you have to do is get control of your inner game of speaking. 

            What is the inner game?  It’s thinking about them, not yourself, while you’re standing in front of the group.  It’s understanding that what you have to say is your gift to them and you want to be sure they get it.  They’re like a bunch of baby birds in a nest, saying “Feed me!  Feed me!”, and you’re the mama or papa bird ready to give them the food they need to survive.

            When you’re thinking about giving your gift, when you’re focusing on your message and making it land, you can’t possibly be thinking at the same moment about how perfectly you’re doing it.  Your brain is wired to focus on only one thought at a time.  When you’re giving all your attention to the audience to make sure they’re getting it, when you’re passionate about letting them know your information, you’ll forget to think about yourself entirely because you’ll be looking outward at them, not inward at your navel.  It’ll never occur to you to think about whether you’re saying it right or to wonder if someone else could say it better because you won’t be thinking about yourself at all.

            Your job, when you’re in front of the audience, is to give them your gift.  You will say it right, no one else could possibly do it better, because you’re unique.  They won’t be able to take their eyes off you because your way of expressing yourself is special to you. 

            If they’re doing any judging, it’ll be to approve and appreciate you.  They’ll carry your energy and enthusiasm with them when they leave, and their memory of your presentation will be totally positive.  Their only judgment will be that you’re a winner!