I think I’ve been upfront from the start in saying that I’m a firm believer in ‘selfish kindness.’ If you can be super kind and thoughtful towards others, just because, and without any thought of karmic return – fantastic! Have at it! If though, like me, you still need the hope of that kindness boomerang coming back your way to help you to not be a selfish cow every day, then that’s okay too!
Today, my inner selfish cow was delighted to find that thinking of others had another fantastic reward….. it’s massively decreased my pre-public speaking anxiety.
Regular readers will know that I’m a socially anxious teacher turned business owner, teaching wellbeing and mindfulness in schools. Nowadays, my social anxiety and I work together, as best we can – it no longer holds me prisoner. But that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing. And when I do something new, especially when it’s in the realm of public speaking (to which, for a greater part of my life, death was a preferable experience) I definitely feel the power balance between me and my anxiety wobble.
So imagine my surprise and joy this week, as I approach my first Mindfulness training session with parents, and feel overwhelming excitement to meet and share my knowledge with these people.
I know that in part, this feeling of calm and confidence comes because the subject material is something that I’m deeply passionate about.
But more than that, I know it’s because I’m much more focused on the people in the room, rather than me, me and me.
My inner-monologue before and during a presentation, used to go something like this:
OMG can they see that I’m shaking? Why is he looking at me like that? Oh god my mouth is so dry. I can’t speak! What if I fall over? Oh no I’m sweating. Make up is probably running down my face. I’ve got to get through this. I want this over. I’ll speak faster so it’s over.
You can imagine how that went!
Nowadays, my thoughts and questions are more like this:
How can I grab them from the beginning? How can I put them at ease and make sure they’re comfortable? How can I get the best out of them? Will they get something out of that? What practical things are they going to benefit from? What questions might they have at this point?
It seems ridiculous now, looking back, to note that I never used to even consider the comfort levels of the audience. I was far too busy fretting about being ‘found out.’
Focusing on how I can serve others and taking on the role of the person who tries to put others at ease, is a much more pleasant position to be in, resulting in fewer sleepless nights.
So if you’re planning a presentation and sick with nerves, really step into the shoes of your audience. Think about what they really need, and what you can give.