Public Speaking – How to stop JUDGING YOURSELF

This is an AI generated transcript so please forgive any errors and spelling mistakes. 

When you speak and perhaps you forget a couple of words, or it doesn’t go as perfectly as you had hoped, do you beat yourself up? Do you sometimes find you are judging yourself while you’re speaking and you can’t be a hundred percent present with the audience and focus because that little negative voice is chatting away? Today I want to share a tip that you can use. A little hack that will help you to stop judging yourself.

First, my name is Shola Kaye. I’m a speaking coach and a professional speaker based in London and have clients all around the world. I typically work with organizations and with business owners and people who want to advance their career with confident speaking.

Public Speaking – being harsh with ourselves after making a mistake only makes the experience worse

Let’s look at the content that the order of the day which is how to stop judging yourself when you speak. Quite often the judgment, the self-judgment, can be worse than the actual little mistake or little problem that happened. I know, for example, as someone who is a professional singer, I think about 12 or 15 years ago (I still remember now, right?… It was a while ago) I hired a stand at a big trade show.

As part of hiring the stand I got a bit of an opportunity to sing onstage in front of a bunch of bookers, agents, etc. I was singing a song, not a particularly tough song, but at a certain point in that song there’s a sort of challenging note, and my voice broke on that high note. I was mortified. I was embarrassed and I thought “oh this is so so shameful” and I remember that when I got home, went to bed, couldn’t sleep. I’m tossing and turning “oh my gosh I didn’t sing that song right”.

Weeks and weeks after I’m still lying in bed at night having sort of bad memories of this, not necessarily poor performance, but this one little moment in this song where it didn’t go according to plan. I know that a lot of you out there are similar where you torture yourselves, you toss and turn, and twist over little moments in speeches that didn’t go right and you feel like you were a failure.

How do we avoid this? Well, I was recently reading a book by an author called Stephen Guise, which is called How to Be an Imperfectionist. It’s full of great tips and tricks, it’s wonderful. I’ve actually written a sort of precis of the book and put it on my bathroom wall I look at it everyday to remember “Shola don’t do this, don’t do that, etc”, to stop myself from being a perfectionist and not getting out there and putting myself out into the world.

Public Speaking – be less judgemental by thinking binary

Regarding how to stop yourself judging yourself so harshly when things don’t go to plan, one thing that Stephen Guise mentions in his book is the idea of looking at yourself in a binary way. Looking at each performance or each public speaking performance in this case in a binary way as in not how do I rate myself from zero to ten? but did I do it or did I not do it?

Especially at the beginning where you need the opportunity to practice you just need to get out there and get that sensation of what it’s like to speak in front of an audience. It’s not necessarily helpful to be rating yourself out of a hundred every single time, or rating yourself out of ten, or out of five. At the beginning it’s just get up on the stage feel what it’s like and praise yourself for actually doing it.

So that’s what being binary comes in because what you want to do is look at it in terms of was I successful or was I not successful? Success means I did it, lack of success means I did not do it. I turned the opportunity down I didn’t turn up I made an excuse on that day and took a sickie from work because I didn’t want to speak. Whatever it is, if you did that’s a zero. But if you turn up, regardless of whether you forgot some lines, regardless of whether you stumbled a bit or you were shaking doesn’t matter, that is a one you did it.

Thinking in this binary fashion, what it does, is it stops you from judging yourself so harshly. It’s much easier to be successful because all you need to do to be a success is just get on the stage and deliver the speech in whatever form it comes out of your mouth, right? Early on that can be enough and as you naturally do more and more speaking you will improve. And you don’t need that harsh voice of judgment early on that is going to stop you or get in the way of all those opportunities to practice. That’s why being binding me about this can be so helpful.

Public Speaking – use this hack as a tool for improvement

Now, I’m not saying that you produce the same kind of maybe quite basic level performance time and time and time again and you keep saying “oh, well done, I did it”. Obviously, you want to be growing and improving each time. But let the success matter be “I did it”. And then naturally you’ll be improving every time anyway because with practice you get better.

I hope that helps, just a short one today. Be binary. If you’re stopping yourself with that harsh voice of judgement, be binary. If I go back to that song that I sang all those years ago, if I could have just thought “well flippin’ heck, I spent the money on my first trade show, I got a stand together, I hired all the lights and things that I needed for my stand, I’ve got a really nice backdrop together, and I sang on stage and I got through it, boom that was the success!” that should have been enough. That should have been enough rather than torturing myself for weeks because it didn’t go absolutely perfectly.

So I hope you can take that, do something with it, and hopefully learn from it. Fantastic book How to Be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise. If you are looking at ways to improve your public speaking then I’ve got my own book How to be a D.I.V.A, at Public Speaking, which is here. Not just for women, even though the cover is pink. There’s lots of good tips in there, lots of men have read it too. I hope that this idea of being binary is helpful to you.

Please do get in touch for one-to-one coaching or if you need someone to come along and deliver some training at your company whether in the UK or overseas. I do travel. I look forward to seeing you for another podcast or another video blog.

Take care, bye.


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you improve your speaking or grow your business:

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