Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, where I got the opportunity to meet some true ICONS of public speaking.
I'm of course referring to...the Muppets.
Perhaps I should explain...
There are two particular Muppets that come up in my speaking sessions about once a week.
↓ These guys. ↓
Perhaps you're already familiar with Statler and Waldorf, the two grumpy old men who heckle the other Muppets from the back of the theater, as Kermit, and Fozzie, and the rest try their best to put on a show.
The reason these two cantankerous old puppets come up so often when I'm helping folks with public speaking, is this:
They are the perfect embodiment of the noisy inner critic that plagues many public speakers.
That voice that pops up mid-presentation to say unhelpful things like:
If you've ever had a thought like this while presenting, you have dealt with a Statler and/or Waldorf.
These Muppets can be public speaking kryptonite.
Because, here's the thing:
There is absolutely a time and a place for constructive criticism.
But that time is certainly not WHILE you are presenting.
It is impossible to connect and stay present with an audience if all your attention is focused on critiquing your own performance.
So, what's the solution?
How can we lessen the power of these destructive Muppets?!
Well, at the risk of sounding obvious...we can start by acknowledging that they're Muppets.
Think about it.
What would happen if you stopped treating that little voice in your head like the arbiter of truth?
What if instead, when you hear that voice in your head say, "They're going to see that you're an impostor", you imagine that sentence coming out of the mouth of an absurd felt puppet with caterpillar eyebrows?
I'll grant you: this exercise is silly.
But it's also effective.
Sometimes a little silliness is all we need to step into the spotlight with less fear and more fun.
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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