How am I supposed to get through my presentation when everyone keeps talking? Try as I might, I can’t wrangle my thoughts and remember what’s on my next slide with this CONSTANT chatter.
It feels like every third word, someone is interjecting:
It is too damn loud in here.
...Of course, by “in here,” I mean in my own head.
That’s right. Today we are talking about that chatty inner-critic.
We all have one. Some are chattier than others, but one thing all inner-critics have in common is this:
They are supremely unhelpful while you are presenting.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for constructive criticism. However, that time is NOT in the middle of your presentation.
It’s impossible to connect and stay present with an audience if all of your attention is focused on analyzing your own performance.
So, how can you shut up that inner-critic long enough to get a word in edgewise?
The solution is actually pretty simple.
You gotta shift the spotlight.
Before you launch into your presentation, take a second to remind yourself of this fundamental truth:
The presentation isn’t about you—it's about your audience.
That’s why I ask myself the same question before each and every speaking engagement: “What do I want my audience to do or feel as a result of my presentation?”
Creating an external goal gives me something to focus on other than my own performance.
Let’s say I’m about to give a workshop on storytelling to a group of attorneys.
If I go into that speaking engagement with a goal like “I want to sound smart” or “I want to look authoritative” I will most certainly come across as a sweaty, self-conscious mess.
That’s because I’ve created a goal that places all of my attention on the messenger instead of the message.
But what if I shifted the spotlight?
What if instead my goal was, “I want the audience to feel empowered to try out one of these storytelling techniques in their next opening statement.”
Suddenly my focus has shifted to my audience. The chatter moves from the supremely unhelpful, “Sara, there was a better way to say that!” to “I see some wheels turning. Maybe I should slow down and anchor this concept with an example.”
And herein lies the catch-22…
The speakers who ditch the goals of “sounding smart” or “looking authoritative” in favor audience-focused goals are inevitably the speakers who end up sounding smart and looking authoritative.
(There’s a fun/frustrating thought to meditate on this week!)
The Hard Part...
While this shift is fairly simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If you’re in the habit of relentlessly critiquing your performance as you’re presenting, it might take some time to retrain your brain.
It’s a process—And a process that’s often a lot easier with the help of a coach.
In fact, this is one of the most common stumbling blocks that I work on with my public speaking clients.
It’s right up there with performance anxiety, filler words, and the inability to tell a story.
How to Make it Easier...
If you struggle with any of those things, or just feel ready to take your public speaking to the next level, I encourage you to set up a complimentary Public Speaking Strategy Session with me! .
During this phone call, we'll get super clear about what your goals are as a public speaker and what's getting in the way of you reaching those goals. Then, we'll come up with a plan to address those stumbling blocks so you can masterfully step into the spotlight!
This is also a great opportunity to talk about what it would look like to work together, if you’re interested in getting some additional support around those public speaking goals.
Hope to speak with you soon!
In the meantime, wishing you lots of mental peace and quiet this week. <3
Sara Glancy is an NYC-based actor and public speaking coach and the founder of Speak Masterfully, a service that helps professionals take the stage with less fear and more fun!
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