February 25, 2009

Let go of your ego

As speakers, we are often concerned with appearing perfect and flawless to our audiences. While we're focusing on ourselves and trying so hard to come across as witty, clever, brilliant and smooth, our egos are getting in the way of serving the audience.

Take a look at Lance Armstrong, 7-time winner of the Tour de France. How hard do you think it must be to take a back seat to a fellow rider? Whereas Lance is used to riding for the win, having his entire team support him, he just finished the Tour of California in the role of a domestique, a helper to teammate and Tour winner Levi Leipheimer.

For a competitive professional athlete who's used to being the star, it's hard to take a back seat to anyone. But an athlete in a team sport also realizes that there's a whole team working together, no matter who the star is.

As a speaker, you may feel like the star, but you are part of a team that includes your audience. Without an audience, there is no speaker. Without a speaker, there is no audience.

To be the most effective speaker and create a win-win situation where you get what you want (the audience to move on your call to action) and the audience gets what they want (relevant, useful, practical information), you must set your ego aside.

Play for the team, not just for yourself. That way, everybody wins.

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5 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

Very good post, Lisa. It is also hard to let go and not worry what people think about you. This is not the same thing as not caring or not preparing for the speech or presentation - but rather a dropping of the ego that allows you to be your true self in front of the crowd.

You cant be authentic AND worry about people's opinion of you at the same time. Can you?

Dr. Jim Anderson said...

Lisa: easy to say, hard to do! When you get up to speak to an audience of any size, you are exposing your "inner being" to them. Any failure, catcalls, or basic disinterest will hit you hard when you have given this much of yourself.

I think that what we sometimes confuse as "ego" is really a very natural self-defense tactic. If they don't walk away loving us, then our ego allows us to go on.

I agree that you need to be, what's a good word here - porous, and allow your audience in and your true self out. However, speaking "naked" can set you up to take some bad feedback very personally.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
The Accidental Communicator Blog
"Learn How To Calm Your Fears, Wow Your Audience, And Get Your Point Across"

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Jim, I never said it was easy. ;-) Here's a post I wrote about "thick skin" a while back. Your comments about being "porous" are right on!

Mario, I think it's normal to worry a little about what people think of us; after all, that's what compels us to dress nicely for a presentation instead of showing in up our favorite jeans and t-shirt!

But yes, I think when you're comfortable with who you are and able to express yourself authentically, the surface concerns dissipate.

Samantha said...

Thanks for this reminder, it's always so easy to focus on ourselves rather than the audience we are supposed to be serving.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Samantha (not Sam)! It makes sense that we would focus on ourselves, as we really are the center of our own universes. It takes awareness and practice to get out of that little world.

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