May 7, 2009

Perception or reality?



Can they hear your voice quiver?

Are you dry and boring?

Do you lack persuasive skills?

Do they see your hands shaking?

Are you unable to get your point across?

How do you know?


These are all fearful comments I've heard from my clients and audience members, comments that reveal a perception about themselves that may or may not be true.

When we're nervous, we may experience physical symptoms, but does the audience notice?

We may feel that we're not getting through to the audience, because we don't get the response we expect, but does that mean we're not connecting?

This is another situation where videotaping, audio recording and/or asking for honest feedback through evaluations will help you understand how you're really coming across.

My clients have been shocked to observe their videos and realize that the hand shaking or voice quivering was not noticeable at all! They had been building up anxiety about their performance based on their own feelings and perceptions, but not based at all on how the audience really sees them. Adding some relaxation techniques to their preparation rituals helped the physical symptoms, but more importantly, they could move on to more important skill-building.

Once you get a sense of how you're really perceived by the audience, you can focus on the skills that you need to build rather than the imaginary flaws that aren't actually standing in your way.

Having a clear and honest perception of yourself removes doubt and anxiety and allows confidence to grow!

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5 comments. Please add yours! :

Olivia Mitchell said...

This is such a good point Lisa. And it applies to just about every nervous speaker I've worked with. They always look better than they think they do. I explain it by saying "You can feel your nervousness - your audience can only see you".
Olivia

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I like the way you put that, Olivia!

Laura said...

Even if nerves show (we've all seen shaky hands and heard quivery voices), the audience often has enormous compassion for a nervous speaker.

If a speakers show nerves, it usually means they care. And if they care, the audience warms to them.

Denise Graveline said...

Lisa, well said! Video's the best way to show this, and when I do workshops, I typically ask the person who's been recorded whether they were nervous (yes) and then ask the other participants what they think. Invariably, they don't see the nerves. It's a wonderful confidence builder for many speakers.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great additional points, Laura and Denise! Thanks!

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