Hear the sound of your self-esteem. Coach accordingly

by Peter Watts

I became aware of a damp patch.

Inevitable with a Victorian cottage. Moisture slowly creeping up an outside wall. Tell-tale watermarks on plaster in the hall.

Months of contractor confusion led to my hiring an independent surveyor to take charge. He promptly nailed the source of all my problems as being a tiny pipe, steadily and slowly dip drip dripping beneath a floor.

Seemingly tiny little leaks of self-esteem can have exactly the same effect on our confidence.

The most damaging are those hidden beneath the floor-boards of our bravado; the inner comments we make to ourselves when offered the chance to take on new challenges.

  • “I’m no good at x”
  • “I’ll screw it up if I dare to have a go at y”
  • “I’ve not got what it takes for z”

Over months and years, those drips become a damp-spreading mantra, soaking foundations. Our confidence water-logs from within.

My surveyor told me that to identify a hidden leak it’s important to listen both to what you can hear, and to what you can’t.

Listen for noises that shouldn’t be there (in my watery case, an almost inaudible hissing sound), and then listen for the sounds that are missing, such as the high pressure surge of water rushing through a healthy system.

  • As a presenter, do you suffer a low level hiss of negative internal criticism?
  • After speaking, how clearly can you hear your that healthy surge of success?

Maintaining a constructive inner-dialogue is essential presenter care-and-maintenance. Self-coaching can be one way to do this, but sometimes problems require the help of an external expert for true diagnosis.

Professional coaching assists presenters at all stages of their careers, in the same way that my professional surveyor was able to help me.

It’s well worth taking the time to fix those little leaks.

At the end of the day, nobody enjoys a presentation from a damp-patch.

Coaching yourself after a presentation

by Peter Watts

When I train presenters, I sometimes start by offering each participant a whip and a five minute break; if anyone’s in the mood they can pop outside and give themselves a good thrashing. “Go ahead, have fun!”

Of course, participants greet this suggestion as ludicrous. So why then do so many of us insist on giving ourselves the most monumental thrashing after every presentation?

I messed that up” <Thwack>

I did it all wrong” <Thwack>

It was dreadful, I did nothing right” <Thwack, Thwack, Thwack>

While it’s important post-presentation, to reflect on how we can improve our skills, many of us undertake this with a harsh, cruel judgement.

As you finish one presentation, you mentally set yourself up for the next. Reflect on what you did well, and you build confidence; internalize failure and you build a barrier against ever presenting again.

Professional coaching helps you to focus on success, followed by reflection on areas for improvement. The coach’s role is to encourage you forward by ensuring improvement points are noted while confidence is built.

Often though, professional coaching isn’t available post-presentation. No-one offers feedback except ourselves, through the filter of our own judgement, which is a severe critic; “I botched that up, I messed up this, I should have done that….”

What gets neglected is “What did I do well? What am I proud of?”

Have the discipline after each presentation to reflect on what was GREAT! Be generous to yourself and focus on what you are proud of. You made an investment of time, energy, and courage to stand up and make that presentation. Now give yourself return on investment. It’s not only fair, it’s essential!

For more ideas on how to control presentation nerves, try the following Presenters’s Blog posts:

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