I ran a public speaking workshop last week for about 30 life coaches, two of whom were there only because they had been persuaded to be there by the organiser. I can only describe their feelings about speaking in public as near phobic – extreme discomfort.
Because the group was so mixed in abilities I was unable to do any specific phobia cure work and decided to press on with the course as planned, which it transpired was exactly the right action. Had I focused on them specifically I would have brought about the one thing they feared most – being made centre of attention. It’s not speaking in public that is the problem for most people it’s being the focus of everyone’s attention.
As the day progressed they were able to follow the short and simple speaking exercies in groups of six getting loads of really positve feedback from the group and by the end of the day both admitted to me that they were actually excited about having their turn to speak next – what a total transformation.
The whole experience has made me sit back and think hard about how we as speaking coaches work with people who fear speaking in public. That day they were totally focussed on having fun, being positive, speaking from personal experiences, telling life stories and exploring their passions. In fact what we did was to counter balance all the bad experiences of their past and create a set of really good experiences.
It all makes sense now that I look at it – but all too often we focus on the problem. I remember when my children were young watching one of them come into the room with a very full glass of milk. “Don’t spill it,” I said and or course they immediately did. Why? Because I focused their attention on the idea of spilling it.
Focus on the outcome you want and on having fun achieving that outcome.
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