Geoffrey James is one of my favorite contributing writers on Inc.com’s Leadership section. His most recent article is called “8 Beliefs That Make You More Resilient,” and we can apply these 8 beliefs to public speaking and presentation.
First, James says we should believe that “[t]oday’s success can breed tomorrow’s failure if I let success make me complacent about staying motivated and moving forward” (Source). When it comes to public speaking, we must never be so self-satisfied after one speech that we forget the hard work, preparation, and practice that it takes to be a successful presenter. To be a superstar presenter means continuously moving forward, pushing and growing; otherwise, that one successful speech might be your last!
James’ second resilient belief is, “I learn more from failure than from success. Failure renews my humility, sharpens my objectivity and makes me more resilient” (Source). Although I remember what it is like to successfully deliver a speech and have that positive audience reaction, I also learn from my terrible, boring, failed presentations. These help me learn! Clearly, I know what it takes to make that one successful speech successful. It’s those failed speeches that make me work to uncover the mystery of how, why, and where I went wrong… and what I can do to turn things around next time.
Third, James says we should believe, “Goals that contain the phrase ‘I’ll try…’ are self-defeating. If I want goals that truly motivate me, I use phrases like ‘I will’ and ‘I must'”(Source). When it comes to presenting, students will often say to me, “I’ll try to get over my fear.” Those students struggle because they don’t have the proper mindset. Instead, they should say, “I will conquer this anxiety of speaking in front of a crowd” or “I am going to do this.” The defeated mindset leads us into James’ fourth belief.
James’ fourth belief encourages us to embrace our fear: “What holds most people back is fear of failure, but if I don’t take action, I’ll fail by default, so what have I got to lose?” (Source). No one enjoys public humiliation. Since the primary reason people don’t enjoy public speaking is because of that fear of failure on a large scale in front of a large audience, we must definitely understand that this fear holds us back from success and from greatness. The fear of public speaking is so paralyzing that we may refuse to stand up and present our ideas in front of others. However, we can understand our lizard brain and work to reframe those negative emotions and feelings. If we keep repeating beliefs #3 and 4, we can reshape the way we view public speaking.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part Two of “8 Beliefs About Life… And Public Speaking” containing the final 4 beliefs from James’ article!