You feel the 'spotlight' coming your way, and you're all psyched up to share your brilliant idea, but as soon as it lands on you, your mind goes blank. Or you tone your 'Marmite' down to 'beige'. Discover seven little-known keynote speaker tips that that make it easier to share your ideas in meetings with courage, confidence and passion, even if you secretly wanted to crawl under the table and hide.
I'm really aware how blessed I am to love being on stage. It started when I lived in El Paso, Texas, for a few years as a kindergartener. My first stage performance had me excited to see so many smiling faces. There were a few barren years at school, where my clarinet and saxophone playing had me stuck in the pits, but I've always loved speaking in front of people.
That doesn't mean I don't get nervous, though, especially if what I'm sharing is challenging the status quo. On the morning of a keynote or speech, I definitely get butterflies. And the more my message matters to me, the more those butterflies turn into bigger, flappier things. So, whilst I enjoy it, I'm not always fear-free.
Here are some important stats:
According to my 5-year research study into Imposter Syndrome and burnout, the secret fear of being found out as not good enough or a fraud leads to 89% of people not feeling fully confident when speaking up with their ideas. 47% actively hold back on being visible, and 44% actively fear that being in the spotlight means that they will make mistakes and be judged.
So it's no wonder people worry about sharing their ideas in meetings. Look around you in your next meeting: 9 out of 10 of the people in the room feel the same way.
You're in good company.
Gandhi was well known for cleaning the venue's toilets before making a speech. But those close to him said this was, in part, because he needed to be near to the loos.
To help you to feel more able to share your ideas with courage, confidence and passion, I've pulled out seven little-known tips that I and other keynote speakers use to feel confident sharing our message, so we don't have to push on through the fear or fake it till we make it.
I hope they help.
7 Little-Known Tips From Keynote Speakers To Help You Share Your Ideas In Meetings
1. Get Grounded
Feeling stressed or nervous impacts the blood flow in your brain, physically making it hard to think straight, as your body runs the fight-flight-freeze response. And which of the fight, flight, or freeze options your unconscious mind chooses comes across in your voice and body language.
So it's essential to get grounded - to manage your internal state - before speaking up with your idea.
Here's an audio to guide you through a technique that can help: Press Pause
2. It's Not About You
In 2015 I co-led a campaign that changed EU law, but as part of that journey I had to go head-to-head in a live radio interview with the boss of the UK's tax authority, in front of over a million people.
The key to having the courage to do this was deciding that this wasn't about me; it was about the micro-businesses I was trying to help. Every press interview and speech I gave for the campaign, I did it for them. And that made all the difference.
Make your 'why' bigger than your fears.
3. What's In It For Them?
How can you position your idea in a way that makes those you want to win round look good, instead of stupid for not having though of it themselves? How can you pre-empt their potential objections?
How can you make it an easier yes? What's in it for them? What's the 'hook'? Start with their 'why'.
4. Be Still!
Calm your body, calm your mind. And don't fidget!
Doing my NLP Trainer Training, back in 2003, was like bootcamp for speaker skills: they broke us and rebuilt us. That, and my meditation teacher training a few years later, taught me the value of being fully present when you're speaking, and being intentional with your movements. I consciously move my energy to the lower half of my body to do this.
And calming your mind gets you in flow, speaking with clarity, and inspiring others with your message.
5. Share A Story
I gave a keynote at the European Parliament as part of the law-change campaign, and I knew that if I messed up, I'd fail 100,000+ microbusinesses.
But, instead of talking about the stats from our research study, I told a story. I took the decision-makers on a journey to experience for themselves the new law's impact, inspiring them to take action.
Stories plus data are a fabulous way to change minds. Humans buy on emotions and then rationalise that decision with the data.
The more important an idea is to us, the harder it can be to share it. We're really attached to the outcome. But that's a fast-track to sounding needy and pleady.
Instead, we need to do our homework - especially on tips 3 and 5 - and then let the idea fly, like releasing a newly healed bird back into the wild. It can feel tough, but it sets your idea free and increases its impact.
As a speaker, I have to let go of attachment to the outcome of a talk. As long as I've done all I can to inspire, it's up the audience whether they take action.
7. The Power Of The Pause
When we've just shared an idea, the natural instinct is to keep talking. Silence can feel awkward and we want to fill that gap with more words, often accidentally undermining the message we just shared.
But there's immense power in a pause.
Make your statement and shut up. Give your audience a few seconds of processing time, to allow the impact of your idea to ripple through the room. And watch the magic happen.
Bonus Tip: #8
Imperfectly said is better than perfectly silent.
The Power of #MicroCourage
Breathe in, breathe out, smile (if appropriate!) and speak.
Want more? Here's a whole podcast episode I did on this, if Imposter Syndrome - the secret fear of being found out as not good enough or a fraud - is what's getting in the way of you speaking up with your ideas:
These are just some of the ways you can increase your confidence, courage and passion when sharing your ideas and I hope that they make a difference for you.
And I'd love to hear from you:
I'm curious: what are your thoughts?
Which of these seven tips resonates most with you? And how might you remember to apply them? And how might #MicroCourage empower you?
what's the next step?
Want to find out how big a role Imposter Syndrome might be playing for you, and how it's causing you to self-sabotage?
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