Speak Before You Think: Public Speaking Hacks for Chronic Overthinkers

Are you a notorious straight-shooter who always says exactly what's on your mind without a moment's hesitation? 

This blog is not for you.

Today, I want to talk to my overthinkers.

My friends who always think before they speak (sometimes to their own detriment). 

Growing up, we're often told to “Think before we speak.”

This is excellent advice in general. Having a filter is a very useful thing in polite society. But, as with so many things in life, a trait that starts off as adaptive can very quickly become maladaptive.

Let’s talk about this idea of “the filter.” 

When it comes to speaking, I like to think of verbal filters like curtains

Each idea we have is a ray of sunlight. 

In an ideal world, these rays are filtered through the curtain, letting an appropriate amount of light into the room. 

People who have no filter often get in trouble for speaking without thinking. 

They’ve built a house without curtains

Sometimes the natural light can be refreshing, but often it’s blinding. 

Conversely, overthinkers have built a house with blackout curtains in every window

No light is getting in at all. 

These are the people who keep waiting for the perfect moment during the Zoom meeting when they will come off mute and speak. 

Finally, they see their opening. Their boss has posed a question that they absolutely have an opinion on! 

But they take so long formulating what they're going to say that the meeting has moved on by the time they're ready to hit the unmute button. 

The sun was shining, but there was no light getting through. 

If you've ever experienced that maddening scenario, you, my friend, may be an overthinker.

This blog is for you. 

And to you, I'm going to make an audacious suggestion:
You need to practice speaking before you think.

This is why improvisation is one of my favorite tools to use with my clients who are overthinkers. 

Improv games are the perfect context to practice the skill of manually adjusting that filter and lowering your inhibitions. 

WARNING: This skill shouldn’t be practiced in the boardroom or a high-stakes presentation. 

The place to practice this skill is in a low-stakes, (dare I say it?) even playful environment. 

Take a local improv class. 

Play charades with some kiddos in your life. 

With a little time and practice, you'll find that you are in control of how intense that filter is. 

I’m not asking you to tear down all your curtains–I’m just suggesting you give the wonderful world of adjustable blinds a shot. 

Believe me, the lighting’s great. 😉

Do you want to improve your public speaking skills but the thought of signing up for an improv class sounds daunting beyond belief? 

Then you might benefit from talking to a professional (like me). 

Don't overthink it.

Set up a complimentary strategy session today. 

Let’s make a plan that gets you stepping into the spotlight with less fear and more fun.


Sara Glancy

Photograph of Sara Glancy on stairs
Headshot by Jessica Osber.

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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