I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years. Whether it’s in front of a large audience or a smaller team setting, I’ve been exposed to various scenarios where I was the center of attention in the room. That’s a tough pill to swallow for many, and that’s okay. I believe that everyone starts out with varying degrees of anxiety, nervousness, and anxiousness. We all start somewhere. I refer to myself as an internal extrovert. As much of an oxymoron as that sounds, I truly believe it. Most of the time, I want to be left alone when I’m working, but at the same time, if I have to engage and communicate with others, I do a damn fine job. I find that much of my business life pulls from opposite ends of the spectrum this way.
Speaking has always come naturally to me. It has never been something I’ve had to “work” for. That said, nobody’s perfect and there’s always room to get better and hone your skills. There’s one lesson that has stuck with me from an early age. It’s a piece of advice I got from a junior high teacher. So long ago that I don’t even remember his name or what subject he taught (I believe it was history but it didn’t matter then, and it certainly doesn’t matter now!). What does, matter, is the one sentence that stuck with me from an early age.
“Nobody knows more about your topic than you, so get your ass up there and speak like you know what you’re talking about.”
I paraphrase here, but the point of this sentence is that it’s so blunt and the message is so simple. Nothing like a swift kick in the ass to get you up and moving. The difficulty isn’t simply repeating the line, however. It’s actually believing that it’s true deep down within yourself. Fortunately, this type of message not only helps put you in the right mindset for speaking, it equally helps build your self-confidence. A liar who tells many lies will eventually believe his own lies. Keep this message in the back of your mind and repeat it, and you’ll believe it too, regardless of what field you’re in or speaking about.
The truth is, I’m a competitor, and I have a very competitive mindset when it comes to business. I work with startups, so that mindset is a necessity. I believe this message resonates those that share a similar mindset. It carries some force behind it – enough to motivate you to get up and in the zone for your talk, and for most of you, that’s all you need.