Have you ever thought that you’d rather die than speak in public?
Well, you’re not alone a poll of 2000 people on the top things they were scared of scored a fear of death as lower than a fear of public speaking.
Most people don’t feel brave enough to show their vulnerability in front of others. They focus more on what other people think of them than the message they want to communicate.
Wanting validation from others makes us their prisoner, we’re using their judgement to determine our worth. But, other people’s opinions and thoughts are influenced by what is happening for them in that moment or their experiences in the past. We can’t control their thoughts, so why give them the power over the way we feel?
When I talk to clients about why they have a fear of public speaking they usually come up with one of these fears:
I’ll forget what I wanted to say and look stupid
I’ll be so nervous everyone will be able to tell
My voice will tremble, my body shake and I’ll go red due to nerves
I’ll be boring
Why would they want to hear from me?
I’ll say the wrong thing and they’ll think I’m stupid
This fear is known as glossophobia ( yes it has a real name!)
Studies estimate that 75% of people suffer anxiety and nervousness when speaking in public. It’s often related to a traumatic experience in childhood or early adulthood. There is also thought to be a genetic and environmental link.
What can I do about my fears?
The place to start overcoming a fear of public speaking is by identifying the experience that triggered your fear. Did you get humiliated in class when you read or was your first experience of presenting so bad you’ve never tried again?
Perhaps you’ve never actually spoken in public because your imagination has created such a scary ‘what if’ scenario that you won’t even try.
Once you’ve got clarity on the trigger episode (not everyone has one) then you can challenge that belief.
Our behaviours are often driven by beliefs we have about ourselves and the world. If you’ve picked up the message that you’re no good at presenting or that everyone will know your nervous, then you’ll carry that belief with you and look for evidence to reinforce it.
To challenge that belief you can:
Look for evidence to disprove it. For example when you’ve talked to a group in a safer environment
Recognise that having that belief isn’t working for you and make the proactive choice to build confidence in public speaking
Replace that belief with a new one. For example “I’ve never presented before and it might not be as scary as I imagine” or “Although I’ve found public speaking difficult before it is a skill I can learn”
Once you’ve dealt with those ‘gremlins’ that hold you back you can start to look at practical tips to help build your confidence.
How can I cope with my Fear Of Public speaking?
Don’t Fight The Fear – The physical reaction you have to being nervous – shaking, blushing, dry mouth etc are all a response to the adrenaline released in a ‘fight or flight’ situation. Your mind thinks it’s under threat and reacts to prepare you to run or fight. Don’t take this as a sign that you are gong to be rubbish or look stupid. It’s simply your bodies physiological response and it will pass. Rather than fighting the feelings the less attention you put on them the quicker they will settle
Prepare and Practice – Most of us don’t have the natural ability to ‘wing’ a presentation so preparation and practice are essential. Practise several times and have a dry run in front of a friend or video yourself. It will definitely make you less self-conscious on the day. Remember that practise doesn’t make perfect though. You will make mistakes and that’s completely normal
It’s All About Them Not You – When we’re feeling anxious and nervous we tend to focus on ourselves. How am I feeling? What might I do wrong? Why do I always get so nervous? If you can shift your focus to the audience not only does it calm your nerves but it will lead to a better performance. Consider what your audience want to her and what they want to take away from the talk. How will that make them feel or how will it make their work/life better? Get excited about what you have to share with them
Listen to your breathing – You’ll probably have heard this before but being mindful of your breathing is one of the most effective ways to cope with a fear of public speaking. close your eyes and observe your breathing for a minute then visualise yourself standing confidently in front of your audience, really look into the picture and notice how relaxed you are. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes and your breathing will slow. Then you are calmly ready to speak
Be aware of your body language – Research has shown that having a powerful body language not only gives a confident message to your audience but actually results in changes to your brain chemistry that makes you feel more confident. I’m not suggesting standing in a wonder woman pose but do open up your body position, stand tall with your head up and hands by your side initially and don’t forget to smile!
Whether you’re doing an important presentation at work or a thank you at a party remember nerves are normal and not always a bad thing.
Do you tolerate upsetting comments, back away from conflict or have a difficult time standing up for yourself?
Do you say yes, when you really want to say no?
Or, do you feel pushed and pulled in every direction — and completely consumed by all of the drama?
Is your work-life balance a little…unbalanced? Does it seem like you’re losing your sense of self?
Chances are, you need to get some rock solid personal boundaries in your life!
In essence, personal boundaries set an important space, line or divide between you and another person or situation in order to protect you — your time, energy, body, mind, emotions, privacy, safety and so on.
Boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we set to protect us from being manipulated, mistreated or disrespected and enable us to detach who we are and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others.
When we don’t maintain boundaries — whether it’s in our personal or professional lives — we lose our voice, our sense of identity and risk becoming drained, unfocused and unhappy. We take on too many responsibilities and unnecessary burdens.
Here are some simple steps you can take in order to take back your personal power, set or strengthen boundaries and become deeply grounded in who you are and what you need.
Develop Your Self-Awareness
In order to set healthy, productive personal boundaries, we must first know what we are feeling — and what needs attention. This might seem obvious, but the truth is that people with feeble boundaries can become so engrossed in other lives and situations that they lose touch with their own feelings.
Be curious about what you’re feeling, is it guilt, anger, sadness, overwhelm or loneliness? The more aware you are the easier it will be to identify the boundaries you need to put in place.
Identify When You’re Being Breached
Think about when you get these feelings. Does it happen repeatedly? Is there a pattern? What line has been crossed or blurred? Where have you been unconsciously denied your needs and wants?
Is your work cutting into family time?
Are you pressured to do things for others?
Do you feel scared to say no to your boss?
Get Clear On Your Boundaries
Now that you’ve identified the problem areas, you can determine what you will no longer tolerate and begin to draw up some boundaries.
What action do you need to take in order to regain your personal power? To demand self-respect, create space or strengthen the buffers you already had in place?
Do you need to quit working overtime or stop taking on extra clients?
Do you need to practice saying ‘no’?
Communicate Your Boundaries
Depending on the situation, you will either need to declare your boundary to another person or group, or simply take different action.
When communicating your personal boundaries — whether it’s a colleague, family member, friend or yourself — it’s important to be firm and confident.
Use simple, direct language to show your priorities have changed and that you’re taking care of your needs, right now. You may feel a little resistance or guilt, and some people will still continue to push the limits, test the waters and overstep the line — so be unshakeable in who you are and what you need.
Do you need to set or strengthen your personal boundaries?
Let me know what you’d like to different, by commenting below, replying to this email or booking a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Have you been told by other people, done an online quiz or perhaps self-diagnosed? Why not try my self-esteem questionnaire here
A negative self-esteem means you don’t feel good about yourself or your value, you feel of less worth than others and may believe you’re not good enough.
We form this perspective from our personality, upbringing, conditioning in society and experiences in life. It can vary through different phases in your life and has been shown to peak at 60, so their’s hope for us all still!!
If you do struggle with self-appreciation then you are more likely to see situations as negative and to catastrophise problems. Also, you’re probably sensitive to comments that are non-critical, taking them as negative.
In comparison, someone with a healthy self-esteem enjoys growing as a person. They feel fulfilled and stand up for their wants, needs and opinions.
It sounds good, doesn’t it!
Well, it is possible to build your self-esteem and I have some strategies to share with you.
Here’s how you can start to boost your self-esteem today:
Challenge your inner critical voice – we all have an inner gremlin that holds us back with words that persuade us not to take action. Or to do something that isn’t helpful (like that extra glass of wine) The words it says to you are just thoughts though and aren’t necessarily true. You can challenge your gremlin with other evidence. For example, if your inner voice says you’re stupid then think about all the things you’ve achieved that disprove it and your other strengths such as being thoughtful or creative.
Avoid negative self-talk – when you’re not feeling good about yourself it’s easy to use critical self-talk without realising. Start noticing when you talk negatively about yourself to others (even in humour) and how often you internally tell yourself you can’t do something or you’re not good enough. Putting a stop to this type of conversation will make a huge difference to how you regard yourself.
Drop the high expectations – It’s not just perfectionists that have high expectations. Anyone with low self-esteem can also have unrealistic standards for what they can achieve. Setting yourself up to fail like this will reinforce the message that you’re not worthy enough. Having a realistic goal isn’t a sign of weakness and think of the boost if you surpass it.
Drop the comparisons – Are you a Facebook obsessive? Social media can be one of the biggest suppressors of self-esteem because you’re not comparing apples with apples. You’re comparing the window dressing of someone else’s life to the whole, good and bad of yours. Rather than focusing on other people who you think are happier, richer or luckier, move your attention back to you. Think about your aspirations, how you’d like to grow and how you can use your strengths.
Do something nice for you – Wouldn’t you get pleasure from doing something nice for someone else? Then why not treat yourself the same way? For healthy self-esteem, it’s really important to take the time to do something you enjoy and not to feel guilty about it. Whether it’s time out to read a magazine, a shopping trip or a chat with friends. If it makes you feel good then don’t be guilty.
Do something nice for someone else – As I said in number 5, helping out another person gives you a lovely warm feeling and builds your self-esteem. You could plan an act of kindness that you do regularly. Or look for opportunities to be altruistic and it doesn’t matter how big the gesture is. It could be holding open a door or letting a car in front of you in a queue or surprising a friend with flowers.
Set yourself a challenge – This will give you the opportunity to gain a sense of achievement (remember about realistic expectations though!) Start small, perhaps attend an evening class, start the couch to 5K app, or ask a new colleague out for a coffee. The important thing is to acknowledge your achievement and celebrate it before moving on to another challenge.
Think of building your self-esteem as a journey
It’s something you can work towards but may not follow a straight path.
Start with one of the ideas above and take some small steps forward, remembering to recognise any success.
Is there never a queue for the women’s toilets in your workplace?
Do you struggle to get your voice heard, often being interrupted or ignored?
Perhaps you miss having a group of females to chat with?
Many of our professional industries such as Engineering, Finance and Tech still have markedly fewer females than males and that get’s even less as you climb the career ladder.
These male dominated cultures bring different challenges with them. When I presented to Amazon UK a couple of weeks ago I was asked:
“How can I get seen and heard when I work with mainly men?”
My answer was… you don’t need to behave like a man to get recognition. But you can alter your communication style and use some strategies to build rapport and respect.
5 Ways To Stand Out In A Male Dominated Workplace :
Talk about facts and solutions – men tend to speak for power and women for warmth. That means that men throw facts at each other to assess each others competence and whether they are trustworthy. When an issue comes up they go into solution mode rather than listening and empathic mode like women. Try putting more facts into your conversations when you’re looking to build an initial impression.
Speak up in meetings even if you’re interrupted – recognise the value of your opinion and believe that what you have to say is worth listening to. If you’re interrupted and want to finish what you were saying, either ask to finish or keep speaking at a louder volume.
Play to your strengths – expertise is particularly important in a male dominated workplace so, don’t be afraid to share yours. Also play to what are known as your stereotypically female strengths. Relationship building and emotional intelligence are a key part of any team.
Practise handling conflict – whilst preventing conflict by being aware of possible situations likely to trigger disagreement is important, you can’t always prevent it. When conflict occurs deal with it immediately by listening to understand the others view point. Then keeping it professional and not personal, being direct and assertive and by not holding a grudge.
Find a mentor/advocate – develop a support network with colleagues in and out of your department, enabling you to offload and share experiences. Also find a senior manager/s who believe in you and develop that relationship. They’ll then be able to offer you advice as well as advocating for your abilities when you’re not in the room.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions that helped you when working in a largely male environment? Do let me know or comment below.
Wishing you courage and confidence.
P.S. To get some personal support from me on your workplace challenges you can book a FREE call with me on my online calendar here.
I had one of those days this week when everything seemed really difficult and I felt like nothing I was doing was working. It triggered all my self-doubts and my confidence was on the floor.
But this up and down flow of confidence is completely normal. The thoughts we have in certain situations and with certain people can make us feel really confident or reduce us to self-doub.
When this happens to me I find these 4 tips really helpful:
Ask yourself “When did I feel like this before and what happened?” Recall the last time you felt unconfident, did you still take action? Did the self-doubt feelings go away? When you’re feeling in a positive place it’s worth recording successes you’ve achieved despite doubting yourself. These are really helpful to read when you hit that dip again.
Challenge your expectations. If you expect to achieve very high standards all the time you are setting yourself up to fail as no one is perfect and that can really knock your confidence. Challenge the goals or expectations you have, are they realistic and challenging without being perfection?
Who are you comparing yourself to? The most common people we compare ourselves to are siblings, Facebook friends, colleagues and people we watch or read about online. But you’re only comparing the window dressing of these people with the whole of you. Instead keep your focus on you and your goals because life is scary and messy for everyone at times.
Feeling unconfident is helpful. Emotions are the bodies way of telling us what our thinking is at that moment. Low confidence is just telling us that we’re about to do something new, difficult or both. It doesn’t mean we have to stop but that we should think carefully about how we do it.
Next time you feel your confidence levels drop try out these tips. Not all of them will be helpful to you but do find your favourite and give it a go.
If you find your self-doubts are holding you back then do book a free consultation with me at www.speakwithjo.com. I’ll share with you some strategies to help you boost your confidence and move forward.
Are you someone who works really hard to ensure every detail on a project is ‘right’? Do you hate making a mistake and see it as a failure? Maybe you procrastinate about starting a task in case it’s too difficult and you can’t do it perfectly?
These are some of the traits of perfectionism and most are founded in judgement.
We all have our own set of rules and standards that we expect not just ourselves but sometimes others to adhere to.
When we decide that we haven’t reached the required standard (usually an impossible 100%) out will come the judge and jury and we’ll be found guilty of making mistakes and not being good enough.
This harsh self-judgement results in us trying to control external factors over which we have little or no control. In fact, as a result, those factors get to control us instead!
No wonder we feel stressed, anxious and that our enjoyment and fulfilment of life is limited.
It is possible to free yourself from the rules and unrealistic expectations that drive your perfectionism
Try these 3 steps to help ease the perfectionist pressure (and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work perfectly!)
Drop the judgement – rather than your perfectionist traits being something ‘wrong’ with you. Focus on how they have given you the drive and motivation to achieve all you have.
Use this drive to empower you to continue achieving, but without the limitation of rules and standards. Be curious about what success you might have.
Be authentic – take the spotlight off being perfect and instead turn it on to being you. What do you value, what would success mean to you, what does a ‘better but not perfect you’ look like?
Stop judging others – When we are harsh judges of ourselves we generally are tough on others too. Look at others with curiosity and compassion instead and you’ll find you naturally see yourself in the same way.
By losing the judgement and having curiosity and compassion instead, life feels less of a battle.
If you’d like to explore your perfectionist challenges or get some free resources then I’d love to hear from you. Just reply to this email or book a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
We all have our coping mechanisms for dealing with uncomfortable negative emotions. Whether it’s food, wine, exercise, anger or sex… that isn’t important.
It’s that thing you turn to when you feel stressed, sad, frightened, anxious, confused or simply bored.
In my case, I would usually reach out to food or wine for imagined support.
It used to provide me with a temporary sense of calm.
Even if it lasted just for a few short minutes, it was soothing.
I’d hazard a guess that many of you do the same, because
facing negative feelings is difficult and scary.
Using food or alcohol to bottle them up and then simply
ignoring them often seems like a much easier solution.
However, while it might be easier, it is also short-lived.
Emotions are obstinate things – especially if they’re negative.
They refuse to stay silent for long.
Even if you turn them away time and time again,
they keep on coming back and knocking at your door.
That is because all feelings, however uncomfortable
or distressing, are messages.
Their purpose is to inform you about your thinking at that moment.
An uncomfortable feeling just suggests your thinking is ‘off’ and shouldn’t be acted on.
But, If you suppress your feelings all you’re doing is ensuring you stay in uncomfortable thoughts longer than you would have.
We are all human, we all feel a range of emotions,
pleasant and unpleasant.
At times we all feel insecure, not good enough,
sad, unloved, unworthy, this is a normal part of being human.
These are normal, natural emotions.
It is okay to feel this way.
It is not wrong.
These emotions do not define our worth.
We don’t need to suppress or hide or deny them.
Instead, we need to recognise these emotions
and respectfully acknowledge them.
Your feelings come from your thinking and it is
okay to let yourself feel them.
They are an important part of your very being.
So instead of trying to block out every uncomfortable
emotion an alternative is to simply
accept and observe your emotions.
Observing your negative emotions simply means allowing them to be,
resisting the urge to get rid of the pain and not judging yourself for having these feelings.
When you accept negative emotions,
theyy are nowhere near as destructive,
uncomfortable or challenging
as you may have imagined.
Put simply, it doesn’t feel so bad.
Think of all the uncomfortable emotions
that you automatically respond to with
your soothing mechanism without even a moment’s consideration.
By giving emotions some space to be
and exist you allow new thoughts and therefore new emotions to take their place.
To do this I suggest when you feel uncomfortable you stop for a minute
before you turn to food/wine/etc for comfort. Observe the feeling, recognise that you don’t need to do anything about it and let it go.
You shouldn’t be afraid of your emotions.
Trust me, they don’t mean you any harm.
They’re simply trying to inform you about your thinking
and they can only do that if you listen.
Listening to your emotions will enable you to discover your true, resilient self.
When I talk about resilience, people’s reaction is often to think about the British stiff upper lip and ‘pushing on through’.
But that’s not what resilience really is. To be resilient is to recover quickly from difficulties rather than to not be affected by them.
I can think of a number of difficulties I’ve had in my life such as; divorce, bereavement and illness – as I’m sure you can. Some of which I struggled to recover from and others I was more resilient to.
Being resilient also applies to less dramatic life situations like not getting a job you interview for, falling out with a friend or your daughter being a ‘typical teenager’.
When life gets difficult or unwanted things happen to you, how do you react? Do you fall apart, do you get through it and then fall apart or do you recover quickly?
Score yourself from 0 to 10 on how resilient you think you are. Where 1 = I have very little resilience and need a lot of time and support to recover and 10 = I’m very resilient and can bounce back from problems easily.
If you’ve scored below a 10 you’ll probably find these tips helpful:
The 10 Tips To Building Your Resilience
Look at the situation as an observer, is it a genuine problem or could it be your perspective that makes it feel like that?
Think of the different possible solutions and only focus on those you have control over
Ask for help and don’t be afraid to show vulnerability
Stop ‘what if’ thinking. It is almost always unhelpful at finding a solution and will only make you worry more and be stressed
Take time out from the emotional stress to recover after a situation
Develop a support network, which you can turn to at difficult times
Avoid replaying the situation in your mind. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between reality and imagination, so you’ll just bring the thoughts and feelings back again and again
Choose to be optimistic and if you don’t know what the future holds choose the positive outcome
Keep a journal of situations, how you felt, what you learnt and the positives from them
Practice self-compassion. If you are punishing yourself, it means you’re hurting. Show yourself some compassion instead.
When I present to organisations and companies about confidence I often question the attendees as to how confident they are in their abilities at work.
I ask them to score their expertise from 0 to 10 with 0 being – I’m totally incapable of doing my job and 10 meaning – I’m extremely capable.
When I average the scores of men and women I can guarantee that the men’s average score will be higher than the women’s average.
This is backed up by research in which they questioned students on their abilities in science. They asked a group of male and female students to rate their skills in science and then gave them a science quiz to answer.
Unsurprisingly the male students rated their skills higher on average than the females. But more concerning was that the women rated themselves on average 20% lower in abilities than their test results scored.
So why is this and what can you do to change it?
There are multiple factors that explain why generally women have a lower self-belief and are more risk averse than men. For example biology, upbringing and social conditioning.
This childhood conditioning to be polite, modest and ‘nice’ means it feels uncomfortable to recognise our abilities. we worry that we sound boastful or like a bragger.
Add to this our tendency to compare ourselves to others and it’s understandable that we underplay our abilities.
So how can you recognise and acknowledge your talents?
Break your job down in to it’s various elements/skills and score yourself on those. Being specific helps get a more realistic perspective of how you’re doing.
Don’t undermine your abilities with negative comments about yourself
Once you’ve recognised your expertise and achievements challenge yourself to talk positively about them at the next opportunity.
If you’d like help and support to boost your confidence or have greater satisfaction at work then do book a free Discovery Call with me on www.speakwithjo.com
Confidence coaching is now a proven and major part of both career and personal development.
As a coach, I see my role to be about creating a safe and comfortable space for clients to explore aspects of their career and lives. So they can see things from a different perspective and overcome their issues and self-doubts.
If you asked me what I thought you would get out of confidence coaching, without knowing your personal challenges I’d say:
You’ll see yourself more clearly. Research has shown that it’s difficult for us to see ourselves with real clarity. You could be assuming what others think about you and labelling yourself based on your inner critic. I’d help you to develop real self-awareness, which is essential for you to be effective and fulfilled in your career and life.
An objective perspective. As a coach I offer the opportunity to give you a different perspective on situations and individuals without the baggage of being close to you or being involved in any judgement on your career or life choices. Changing your perspective can really reduce the pressure and anxiety you put on yourself.
Change mindset habits. We all fall into habits of behaviour and mindset that we may not be able to see or change. A confidence coach has strategies and techniques to help you identify and overcome them.
Feel supported and challenged. I believe my job as a coach is to play different roles according to the individual and the situation. I can be a supporter, cheerleader, challenger, thought interrupter and trainer.
Achieve results quickly. You may feel you can or ought to be able to make these personal and professional changes yourself. But as a coach I can ensure you not only achieve your goals in weeks rather than years but can go on to sustain those changes.
As a client of mine said about her Confidence Coaching Programme:
Jo the programme has EXCEEDED my expectations. I expected tips and strategies but what it’s also given me is a total CHANGE of MINDSET. I’m calmer, braver and curious rather than stressed or intimidated. I’m optimistic that these changes will stay with me, thank you”
Life can feel hard work at times with the pressures that we and society put on ourselves. If you’d like to step off the hamster wheel and take some time to reflect on where you are now and what you’d like to be different.