Whilst we continue to navigate our way through constant change and a great deal of uncertainty, many professionals are experiencing a dip in self-confidence. So today, we’re joined by self-confidence coach Jo Emerson, who is here to share her expert advice to help those looking to increase self-confidence in their professional lives.
1. To begin with, could you please introduce yourself to our listeners?
(00:50) My name is Jo Emerson, I’ve been a confidence coach for the last ten years and I had a major career change 10 years ago. I’ve been working as a coach ever since, and I’ve specialised in confidence the entire way through my career. I also do lots of work with teams and leaders. I’m also a mum, that’s probably my most important job. I’ve got three daughters aged sixteen, thirteen, twelve and two stepsons. So, I’m also quite busy in that part of my life. Yes, so, that’s me!
2. Please could you tell us what self-confidence encompasses and why it’s so important to career success?
(01:34) Self-confidence is about trust. The word confidence, its root word is fidere, which means to trust and have faith in. And really self-confidence is about trusting in ourselves, but also trusting in the process of life. I think a lot of us get very worried that life isn’t going to work out exactly the way we’ve planned it, whereas if we do our best and trust that we will learn along the way, life tends to bring opportunities to us. So, self-confidence for me is that sense that if I do my best, it will be okay, and it will work itself out.
I also think self-confidence is a self-validating state, and by that I mean that when we lack confidence, we tend to put our emotional eggs in the basket of other people, constantly looking to them and to the world for approval, verbal strokes and validation.Whereas if we develop self-confidence, we start to validate ourselves, and use our own internal wisdom as a measure for whether we’re on track or not. And of course, this is so important in our careers because as we start work and rise through the ranks, we’re going to be asked to take risks, be resilient and have challenging conversations.
We’re going to be asked our opinion about stuff, and we’re going to have to get given projects and think about what my best wisdom is telling me to get this over the line quickly. especially at the moment, we have to be flexible, adaptable, we have to learn to deal with conflict and confidence sits underneath all of those. So, that’s probably why I ended up specialising in confidence because I thought it’s so important. And I think we think that confidence is this brash arrogant out-there state when really, that’s probably more unconfident behaviour. Real confidence is a peaceful, self-validating, contented state of wisdom and strength.
Thanks Jo, I think it’s important to be talking about confidence, especially now when everyone is experiencing these challenges for the first time or have been since the pandemic began. So, it’s important that we recognise them and challenge them of course.
3. What would you say are the signs that someone might have low self-confidence at work?
(04:00) I think one of the major signs that someone lacks confidence is that they often won’t look you in the eye. I often will spot low self-esteem in someone or lack of confidence if they can’t meet your eye because they’re driven by a sense of ‘ I’m not good enough.’ And again, you’ll find that in people who are very loud and out there, but also people who are very shy. Often, they can’t just be in front of you and have an eye-to-eye conversation. Also, defensive people who find any critique of their work very difficult to take, often the root of that is a lack of self-confidence.
People who are overworking, often, that’s another sign of a low self-confidence, people believing “I must work all the hours in order to keep my job because I’m not good enough”, that core belief of, ‘I’m not good enough.’ People pleasers, people who will do anything for anyone, often they lack confidence. And I don’t mean the good eggs, the people you can rely upon, I mean people who are always overdoing stuff and who are resistant to change. Often that’s a real sign of lack of confidence because of course, if you’re resistant to change it’s because you believe you won’t cope if something changes, and again that’s a lack of self-confidence.
4. You mentioned one of the main signs being someone not being able to look you in the eye. And in the context of the world that we’re in at the moment where we’ve got frequent Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls, I imagine that it’s even harder to identify?
(05:35) Well, it is. It’s interesting because like everyone else, I’ve had to take a lot of my work online and then in the group work I do, you will find a lot of people switching their cameras off. And this is like a group training session or a team-building session. And I have to call those people out and say “Could you put your cameras on? We all need to see you” and they don’t want to be seen.
And yet, you must be seen if you want to build your confidence, one of the first steps is allowing yourself to be seen and to have some face-to-face contact. And if it’s difficult on a screen, it’s even more difficult for people face-to-face. And I think what the pandemic has done, is that it’s pushed us all to the edges of our lives, the edges of our character assets or our character defects if you like, and the people who were shy before, they can hide even more if we let them.
And, we must gently pull people out and say, “I really would love to see your face. I want to engage with you”. It’s hard for people but agreeing with the voice of fear, agreeing with people and going, “Oh no, of course, you can keep your camera off”, I think is the worst thing we can do for people who lack confidence. I think we must make it easy for people to switch their cameras on, but also challenge their need to stay hidden. People absolutely should not be staying hidden, that’s the worst thing for confidence.
5. And if we look at what the main causes of poor self-confidence are, you mentioned in your answer before that people might think that they’re not good enough. What are the main causes of poor self-confidence?
(07:18) So, firstly would be listening to that negative voice in your head and believing what it says. We all have a negative, critical voice, everybody does. Everyone has a negative, critical voice. However, what I have learned, in fact, I wrote my first book on this is, it lies, it’s lying.
It will say, “You can’t possibly apply for that promotion because you’ve only been in the job a year and they’re saying they need fifteen months experience on the job. They’d think you’re really arrogant if you applied for that job and you’ve not got enough experience”. That’s what negativity and fear says that negative voice. But a kinder, wiser voice would say, “Have a go. Why don’t you email HR and say, “I know I’ve only got a year’s experience, but could I possibly throw my hat in the ring, even just for some more interview experience? Can I have a go? I’m interested in progressing my career”.
We’ve all got that negative voice and I call it first thought, second thought. So, faced with any difficult situation, our first thought is usually a negative one, it’s usually that critical voice and we can think, “Okay, thank you for your opinion” and then ask ourselves to plug into a bit of a wiser part of ourselves and ask its opinion. And usually, our second thought is something a little more empowering, a little wiser. So, listening to the negative voice is a big one.
Putting your emotional eggs in other people’s baskets, I mentioned this at the start of the show. So, making other people’s opinions of you more important than your opinion of yourself is a one-way ticket to low self-esteem. And we live in a culture where there’s a lot of this going on. You’ve only got to go on Instagram and see people posting so that they get approval, so they get more likes and feel better about themselves. Actually, self-approving is the thing we should be aiming for.
Trauma in childhood, that can be a massive cause of low self-esteem and low confidence. That needs a specific piece of trauma work with a trauma specialist. So often I’ve had clients in front of me, who’ve been wanting to do one-to-one work on their confidence and then a big traumatic event from childhood’s come up. I will then pause coaching and recommend they go and do a specific piece of trauma work with a therapist and then come back for their coaching, because trauma in childhood can be fixed, but it needs work.
Treating life like a competition. I notice this a lot in my clients that if we treat life as if it’s a competition, we will automatically often lose our confidence because we then tell ourselves everyone else is doing better than us. If we can treat life a bit more like an experience that we do our best in, we stand a better chance of being more confident.
The last thing I wrote down on my list of five, although this is not a complete list, is a lack of balance. Often a life overdone or underdone will be causing low self-esteem and low confidence. When we can have our life in balance by which I mean:
- Enough sleep
- Good food
- Some exercise
- Some love in our lives
- Even if it’s on Zoom, reaching out to friends
- Something creative, such as learning some art or learning salsa online, we can learn everything online these days.
- Or going out for a walk
Filling our lives with a range of things alongside work creates confidence. Overdoing work, or overdoing sleep or any of those things can lead to low self-esteem. So, those would be my top five.
6. I imagine over time that continuous self-doubt could potentially snowball and would be damaging to an individual and their long-term self-confidence. Would you agree?
(11:26) I completely agree and it’s a negative, vicious cycle, a negative downward spiral that we can stop at any point. The thing to know about this though is denial is a big game player in this. So often, you feel some low self-esteem, maybe from childhood and you start believing a tape that’s playing in your head, which is your core belief “I’m not good enough.” And then what happens is you act on that belief and in acting on that belief, you end up creating examples in the present to back up that limiting belief, that core belief “I’m not good enough” from the past. So, then you’ve got more evidence for yourself, and then you start making decisions based on all that evidence. And before you know it, you are looking at the world through the lens of I’m not good enough, and everyone’s better than me when that’s not true. It’s just not true and it’s not true of anybody.
And the job of coaching and you can self-coach, is to challenge that and think “Hold on a minute, where did I even pick up this idea that I’m not good enough? That I can’t and other people can?” and start finding ways to challenge that evidence. So, challenge that negative voice in order to stop the vicious circle and start turning it into a positive cycle, a virtuous cycle, where you start believing something different such as “Maybe I am good enough”. And then you start taking actions based on “Maybe I am good enough”, and then you produce evidence that suggests that actually you are good enough, and then you do some more and do some more.
There’s a brilliant book called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’, I think it was written in the 1980’s. It’s brilliant for that because it essentially says just challenge the evidence – you’re believing a negative story that says you can’t do something when actually you probably can. And even having a go at something new, will produce some positivity in you and then you just start to reverse that trend gently but slowly.
7. People’s self-confidence has no doubt been negatively impacted by the pandemic. As we said, everybody’s situation is unique to them and everybody’s dealing with various challenges. Could you explain some of the potential reasons behind this and how this lack of self-confidence could manifest itself in people’s careers over time?
(13:53) We’ve all spent a lot of time in our own heads. We’ve got less distractions, less grabbing a quick coffee here or having a quick run or over there or buying something in a shop to distract ourselves or going out for beers after work. All of that’s gone, especially in these lockdowns. So, therefore, people are spending a lot more time in their own heads without those things to jolt them up and out of the negative spirals.
However, I genuinely believe that there are some positives from the pandemic in that it has caused a lot of us to pull back from overly busy lives and actually start to think “What do I really want from my life? Like when this is all over, how do I want to show up in the world?” And yet those people who’ve struggled with their confidence, I think they’ve lost the distractions, they’ve lost their network and they’re at home on Zoom a lot and there’s less structures in place to pull people up and out of their negative self-talk, which is why people need to work even harder on their confidence right now because it’s totally doable to go from being an unconfident person to a confident person.
And there’s so many resources online, but the key is even if you can’t do all your old things, you can still find new things to do to just eek your confidence forward. So, learn yoga online, or if you’re going for a walk around the block, walk a bit further or call a friend and say “You walk on one side of the road and I’ll walk another, let’s at least walk together”, or have a lunch date. Take your lunch break and call someone at work who you don’t know and say, “I don’t really know who you are, but we intend to work together, can we Zoom lunch together? Can I ask you some questions and you ask me?” Like, have a career date. All these things terrify people but the more we do them, especially now, the more we’re likely to come out of this pandemic holding our heads a little higher, and with a little more hope and we may have even used this time to learn and to grow new parts of ourselves. So, there is an opportunity here.
8. I imagine doing something such as a career date as you mentioned, might give you a boost in confidence from being able to do that in your own home behind a camera when you’re in a safe space too?
(16:31) Yes, and you can time bind it right? Rather than thinking “Oh my God, what am I going to say for an hour?” You could just say “Look, I’ve got twenty-five minutes. Do you want to get on Zoom, eat your sandwich and have your coffee with me and we’ll just get to know each other?” And then after 25 minutes- we all know we can chat for twenty-five minutes, keep it doable.
But yes, can you imagine stretching yourself to do something like that, that you would never have dared to do before, and it goes well? What that does is, reset your brain. It starts a new neural pathway and that new neural pathway is saying, “I can do things that I didn’t think I could do. Look at me, I did that and that happened! So, what can I do next?”. It’s literally about stopping the negative spiral and changing course.
I like that. Finding the positives of the pandemic and making positive changes, making the most of the situation.
9. Is there any way of knowing what the long-term impact that it could have on a person’s career?
(17:33) I think that is down to the individual and what they decide this is going to have in terms of the effect on their career. And again, that might sound pithy but everybody’s in the same boat. I think the key skills people need to be thinking about developing right now in order to get them through the pandemic and out the other side and into this new world, with confidence, would be resilience, acceptance, and adaptability.
So, we all are having to show enormous amounts of resilience at the moment. It is not easy being at home on a computer all day, having our conversations on Zoom. I’ve got my three daughters; they’re being schooled online. They’re not particularly enjoying it, but you know, we all must crack on. So, resilience is a big one.
Acceptance. So, what can I accept right now and what can I change? So, where have I got power and where don’t I have power?
And then adaptability is a big one. It may be that the career we thought we were going to have before the pandemic, might not be the career we end up having immediately and maybe long-term after the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a career you’re really going to enjoy and love because we don’t know what the world’s going to look like on the other side. And so, I think it’s about taking the skills we have and being adaptable with them and allowing life to take us in a different direction.
So, there’s been an enormous impact and there are people out there who haven’t got jobs at the moment. And that’s very scary and I’m not denying that at all but I do know that in most situations in life, skills are transferable and the most confident people I know are the ones who have adapted and changed to the current situation they’re in and say to themselves, “This probably won’t be forever”.
I know someone who has had a medical career before the pandemic and just got to the point where they thought, “I just can’t do this anymore, it’s not me” and has always wanted to write. So, they have left their job as a consultant doctor and they’re now writing a book. The pandemic and the pain of the overload of work has pushed them to let go and start something new. So, there are opportunities and that’s such a great example of someone being super adaptable and growing something new. I appreciate though that of course, people have got mortgages and rent to pay, and mouths to feed and I’m not saying it’s easy but I am saying, try not to think in a closed way about your career. Try and get your head up a little bit and see what other opportunities are out there. That’s what a confident person does.
That’s great and I certainly agree with transferable skills and the need to up-skill, especially when there’s a need for new skills in the current world of work. I would say to any of our listeners that there are resources available at Hays to help you with that.
One of the groups of people that have been greatly affected by the pandemic has been young people, whether that’s due to the sectors that they work in or generally the situations that they find themselves in.
10. Many young professionals with limited experience of the workplace may have lacked self-confidence before the pandemic and there’s the potential now that their feeling has only increased over the course of the crisis. What advice would you give to help them boost their self-confidence?
(21:15) The first thing I would say is, this is an incredibly difficult and unprecedented time and I know people who’ve been working for twenty to thirty years who have really struggled through this time. So, in no way should anybody be giving themselves a hard time for finding this difficult because it’s difficult for those of us who have continued working because we’ve had to find new ways, and it’s exhausting, particularly for people who’ve lost their jobs. It’s difficult for people who are completely isolated, for those with lots of children at home like me, this is a tough time, and I’m not surprised your confidence has been knocked.
This is what I would say. Imagine yourself as a confident person in the future. So, maybe set your stall out six months and think, “Okay, in six months’ time, I want to become this type of confident person”. So, maybe not like the most confident version of yourself, but a more improved and more confident person for yourself.
There’s an app on my website that people can use, which is on the homepage of my website. So, please go on there if you want to, and then think, “Okay, what small steps could I take in order to just improve my confidence?”. Now it could be that if I ate some more vegetables, I might feel like I’m being kinder to myself and that might boost my confidence. Brilliant, that’s a small thing, but a big tick in the box.
It might be “Well, I could use this time to rewrite my CV and maybe have five CV’s for five different types of sectors and what skills do I have to transfer?” Brilliant. You could think to yourself, “Actually, I really find interviewing difficult so, I’m going to find a friend who’s in the same position and we’re going to do interview practice on Zoom with each other? Brilliant idea. So, one is the interviewer, one is the interviewee and then swap around. It could be “Okay, actually I hate public speaking. It’s terrifying so maybe I’ll do an online course with that” or “I’m going to learn new ways to do my makeup so that I feel more confident on Zoom. So, I’m going to do an online makeup tutorial” or “I’m going to learn a brand-new skill. I’m going to join a Zoom choir just so I’m part of a group”.
Anything that stretches you forward, and they need to be small little things you can do cheaply, easily on Zoom. It could be growing some basil seeds. Think to yourself what would a confident person do? You can visualise it. They’d have some herbs growing on their kitchen window so go get some seeds and some soil and grow them. Tiny steps forward to get you up and out of your low self-esteem and your negative spiral. Just take small actions. It’s all about the action and it’s all about the thought proceeding the action and every time you do something positive; your confidence will just nudge forward a little bit at a time.
11. Thanks Jo, and you mentioned there about interviews. For those of our listeners who are applying for new roles but feel less confident when it comes to interviewing, whether that’s remotely or face-to-face when we get to that stage again, how can they address their concerns and become more confident during their interview process, from the preparation through to the actual interview itself?
(24:52) My advice would be to treat it as if it’s a live interview. So, do everything you would do before a live face-to-face interview. The only difference is going to be the fact that this one’s on Zoom. So obviously research the company, make sure that you can talk around your CV, that’s always a big one. People are going to be asking you about your CV during an interview, so have a copy of your CV there and write little stories you can tell, examples you can give around the different skills you’ve listed. People might say, “Gosh, you did a skydive in New Zealand (well they would with me in 1997, that’s how old I am!) tell us about that?”. Well, if I’ve already thought, “Oh yeah, I did that. I remember it was a cold day and I went up in an aeroplane and the guy next to me was really scared, but I just went for it”.
If you’ve got little stories to tell, I always think that’s great in an interview because an interview is about building a relationship. So, have your CV there with some notes, do your research on the company, make sure you are up early showered looking your best, make sure the room that you’re in is neat and tidy. And, I think do some affirmation work that morning. So, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m going to do my best. If this isn’t meant for me then I won’t get it. If this is the right job for me, I will get it, and these are my skills”.
But the other most important thing to do would be to practice interviews, which is why actually the thing I was just saying about friends or parents, or get your kids to be the interviewers, it doesn’t matter. Just practice being interviewed on a screen because that takes the sting out of it on the day. If you’re not thinking “Oh God, I look really weird and what’s that light behind me?” You know, if you’ve been online in that environment and put yourself through that process a few times, the panic part of your brain will be disarmed because it’s done it a few times. So, it’s like, “Oh, this isn’t new territory” and you’re far more able to be present.
And the other thing with interviews I always say is we must be prepared, and we must treat it as a process. We’re there to sell ourselves but we’re also there to find out information about the company. It should be a two-way process and it should be a conversation in an interview. So, go with some questions of your own, not in a cocky way but in a genuinely interested way because they may tell you something about their company and you think “Gosh, there’s just no way I could work with these guys”. It would be a good job you had the interview because you found that out. Similarly, you might think, “Oh my gosh, that’s even more exciting. I didn’t know that about them”. I’m sure you guys say the same at Hays, this should be a two-way process an interview, but we go with our best selves. I think we can make too much of it being online and we can think that that makes it scarier. I don’t think it makes it scarier unless we’re believing a tape that tells us it’s scarier. I think it’s the same process, we just don’t go to someone’s office, we sit in front of our computer.
12. So, if someone’s followed your great advice, they’ve passed the interview stage, they’ve been offered the job and they’re about to begin it and they’re obviously starting their new job remotely. Is there any advice that you could give people to keep that self-confidence going, it must be a strange thing to start a new job remotely?
(28:30) Well, that is difficult and that is different, to starting a new job in an office. So, I would say building relationships. I would make building relationships your priority. In fact, I’m coaching a lot of people at the moment who have started work during the pandemic in new companies and it goes back to that Zoom lunch or that quick cup of coffee and can we have a chat thing. You all know who you need to build the strongest relationships with probably within your first couple of weeks and if you don’t, maybe ask your new boss “Who would it be good for me to get to know?”. And I don’t mean get to know from a work perspective, I mean, get to know as people.
Businesses are built on relationships; business is done on relationships and organisations work on relationships. The most important thing we do when we go to work is build relationships because then when your spreadsheet isn’t aligning with someone else’s, you’ve got a relationship there, which means you can chat about it rather than go on the attack with each other immediately. That’s a silly example but I would make building relationships your priority.
I would also ask questions. So, go to people, email people, or Zoom people and say, “Okay, I’ve just started, what would you like me to know about your job? What would you like me to know about what challenges you’ve got and how can I help with that? So, how would I best fit into this role and this company?”. And similarly, I would also be asking people for help. I’d be saying, “Look, I’m brand new and we are all working online, can I have some help with knowing who’s who and what the company culture is? And do we all break for lunch at one or is that flexible?”. Ask questions because it’s about building those relationships. And also go easy on yourself, it’s going to take you longer to hit the ground running, it’s going to take you longer to get into the groove at work when you’re starting on Zoom than it would have taken you in a live situation, so be kind to yourself and go easy on the expectations.
Some fantastic advice so far. And we wanted to discuss some of the more common areas of our listeners’ day-to-day lives that many may struggle with self-confidence in. So, I thought, firstly, if we focus on communication and those who are perhaps introverted and find it difficult to communicate on frequent video calls and meetings when working remotely.
13. So, we spoke at the very beginning about maintaining eye contact. Is there any way that our listeners can work on that to ensure that they’re communicating in a confident and effective way when they’re on video calls and meetings remotely?
(31:27) I think the first thing to do is to start changing that tape that’s playing. They’re telling themselves that they can’t do it and that they’re not very good at it and nine times out of ten, nobody else is thinking that. So, I come up against this again and again when people are believing a negative narrative about themselves that nobody else can see. So, if people can start challenging that negative voice that’s saying, “You’re no good at this, you’re really boring. No one wants to listen to you. Look so-and-so’s doodling while you’re talking, that always happens”, et cetera, et cetera. If you can start challenging that and thinking “I have a voice. I’m employed in this company for a reason, I’ve got something to say”, all really empowering, opposite statements.
I think what is also handy, is to look at some personality profiling. So, I use DISC in my coaching practice, which is just a very simple personality profiling tool, and I’m sure there are some free resources online, where you will see that you are either an introvert or an extrovert, and you’re either people-focused or task-focused and how that manifests in your work. And the people who tend to find Zoom difficult, tend to be the more introverted, more detail-based people, not everybody, but generally. And there’s a book by Bev James called ‘Do It or Ditch It’. She’s great, in fact, she runs the coaching academy where I train, and in there, they talk about the different skills that different personality types have and whenever I’m doing team building or leadership development, it’s the introverts who I’m most interested in hearing from.
So, you’ll do a bit of team building and the extroverts will be there, loud, chatting and rolling ideas around, there’s this big conversation. And I’m watching the quieter types, they’re more introverted and I can see that they’re doing their thinking while everyone else is doing their talking. So, extroverts talk to think, whereas introverts think to then talk but what introverts don’t do, is elbow their way into the conversation and take the stage. So, I will be saying, “And what do you think Stan? Lee, I haven’t heard from you yet. What do you think?”. And out they come with these amazing nuggets because they’ve been in their heads, sorting things out.
The value of the introvert, the deep thinker to a team and organisation is so high and if you are an introvert and you’re listening to this, I want you to hear this really clearly: the way your brain works, the way you organise information and the way you can succinctly present that with clarity to the group, is so important and you absolutely owe it to the organisation you’re in, to your team and to yourself to speak up. So, I really want people to know that.
What you might want to do if you’re an introvert, is say to your manager or one of the extroverts in the room, “Can you give me a nudge? Can you call me into the conversation because my natural setting is to sit back and not say anything?”. So, ask someone to call you in when you’ve had time to think and that way it will become easier if you’re put on the spot if you don’t want to be. But if you’re put on the spot and you get time to think, this is very important for people who are introverted, you will find in six months’ time you’ll just be speaking when you think it’s time to speak. So, honestly, I think that’s probably the best piece of advice I can give to people who find all of this really difficult is, know your value and ask someone to call you out from the shadows.
14. And for those in a similar situation who are experiencing nerves when preparing for a presentation or speaking in front of other people, do you have any top tips on how they can work on their confidence and what impact will this have on their presentation skills?
(35:38) So, I’m just putting the finishing touches to my public speaking online course, actually because I’ve done a lot of this work one-to-one, and I can’t keep up with the demand, so I’m putting it into an online course. So again, I’ve put this into five key points but there are more.
Number one, I would say expect to be nervous. You will feel nervous when you’re giving a public speech, it’s normal, natural and it shows you care. Here’s the thing, when we experience big feelings, big emotions, we tend to want to back off from them because we think the brain goes into this fight, flight, freeze thing and it thinks “This feeling is going to kill me, I have to get away from this feeling” and in that moment, what we do is run away from the thing we’re scared of.
However, if you’ve seen any emotion through, from beginning to end, you will know that what feelings do, is build and build, and just when you think you can’t cope with them anymore, they then start to pass and die away. So, we must expect nerves. I’ve been doing public speaking for years and I still get nervous, but I just think, “Oh, hello nerves, here you come”. I almost open my body for the nerves to come through and I welcome them in and honestly, within thirty seconds they’ve gone. And I now expect them as the beginning of giving a public speech. So, the first thing to do is expect to be nervous, that’s not a sign that you can’t do it. It’s a sign that, yes, this is the reality, you’re giving a public speech and the feelings will pass.
The second thing is to know that a public speech is not about you. It’s about the information you’re giving. So many people when they’re doing a public speech, get hit up about what will people think of me? Will I do it right? Will this be the making or breaking of my career? And they make it all about themselves, which is a small egoic position to take. If you think “This is about the information, how can I best deliver the information so that people, my audience have the information and can go away and use it to make their work easier or their careers better?” Suddenly the pressure’s off and it’s like, “Oh, I’m just a curator for the information”.
So that’s a great tip. If we can expect the people, we’re giving a public speech to, want us to do well because quite frankly, it’s embarrassing for them if it’s not. So, they want you to do well. They want you to give them the information. They want to go away thinking “I’ve really learnt something today” and that therefore they are bringing their goodwill. They want you to do well. If you can just pick up on that goodwill, smile at a couple of people, they’ll smile back. You’ll think, “That persons got my back, and this is going to be all right”, then again, you’re changing the negative tape into a positive one.
The best way to start a public speech is to engage people from the very beginning. So, if you’ve ever heard me speak, you’ll often see that one of the first things I do is I’ll say to everybody “What did everyone have for breakfast today? Anyone have eggs?”. And there would be a show of hands and I’d be like “I had eggs and salmon. Anyone beat me?” And somebody else would say “I had eggs, salmon and avocado actually, Jo” and there’s just this general identification process where we all just remember where humans and we connect on a human to human level i.e. “What did we all have for breakfast? Or how was your commute? Or who slept well last night? Or who dreamed, who didn’t?” Anything silly to just create that relationship again is important and what it does is give you a chance to let those nerves, as I spoke about before, come up, crest, and fall away.
The other thing with public speaking is, use questions throughout, ask people, questions, ask for feedback because the more engaged people are, the better they will find the experience but also the more confident you will be because you will be having those relationships. You don’t have to know all the answers in a public speech. You’re there to give basics of information and start a discussion or open the forum for questions. So, those would be my top five tips for public speaking.
Thank you very much, I really relate to that. I’ve been told in the past that I’m good at speaking in front of people, but I’m always nervous and I think part of the process is recognising that you are nervous but realising that it is going to pass exactly as you said. You can be as nervous as you want beforehand, but it’s only momentary and it will go.
(40:17) It doesn’t have to be a barrier unless you believe it’s a barrier. Otherwise, it’s just nerves. Like it’s just breathing, it’s just rain, you know, it’s just a thing.
I really liked what you said about everybody wants you to do well. No one wants you to fail, and I think recognising that is also very important as well. People are there to get something out of it and there’s a reason why you’re the one that’s speaking as well.
14. We’re onto our last question and this is a question which we ask all our podcast guests. If you had one piece of advice to give to our listeners to help them navigate their careers throughout this pandemic and beyond what would that be?
(40:59) So, I thought long and hard about this, and this is what I want to say. I think if you do your best but leave the outcome to the universe for want of a better word, to nature, to life with a capital L, we cling really tightly on what we think the outcome has to be. We miss so many opportunities along the way, so, it goes back to what I was saying earlier on.
I think my one piece of advice would be: do your best and allow life to partner with you and bring you its best version of an outcome because I tell you, it will be much better and wider and more exciting than something you could have ever even imagined. When I first started training as a coach, I had no idea I was going to end up in the position I am. I just followed my nose and done the next right thing and made quality the most important thing, made helping people, my North star. Doing my best has absolutely been the thing I’ve focused mostly on and I’ve ended up with just an enormous career that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of this. And I think it’s because I’ve done my best, but I’ve held the outcome lightly. That would be my best advice.
Did you enjoy this podcast? Here is some related content that you may be interested in: