Who wins in your head?

For the past 8 years, I have had the honor of working with ACEC Arizona’s Leadership in Engineering Administration Program also known as LEAP.  For many of the students, they would rather have a root canal than have to get up and give a presentation.

The group I worked with most recently had a rather large number of folks that were extremely uncomfortable getting up to talk to a group of their peers.  So I provided them with some simple exercises to reduce anxiety and maximize confidence.

I always tell them that there is no such thing as perfect when it comes to communication.  We are all works in progress and by putting in the work we will make progress.

Additionally we talked about the power of the mind to either help you or harm you when called upon to present.  Our thoughts can reduce discomfort or amplify it regardless of what is really happening outside of us.  One student mentioned that every time I began jotting notes down while he was presenting, he panicked.  I told him he was reacting to something not entirely real.  Yes, I made notes about what could be improved but also what worked in his presentation.

Each of us has a supportive coach and an evil gremlin talking to us when we are making presentations.  But more often than not, the gremlin’s voice overshadows the supportive coach.  The gremlin’s only job is to berate us, to distort reality and derail our success.  Yet we listen to him/her.  And because we think it we believe it must be true.

So start to notice those two opposing forces in your mind.  They are present every day.  By being disciplined about quieting the gremlin every day, his/her critical voice will not be so loud when you are called upon to present.

One of the students from LEAP pulled me aside after our class to thank me.  She said, “I think I speak for a lot of us here today that were dreading this class.  I personally wanted to throw up before I got here.  But you made this a really positive experience and even an enjoyable one.  My discomfort has been dramatically reduced and I now feel that in time, presenting might actually be something I come to enjoy.”

Seth Godin, Marketing Guru, calls the gremlin “the troll” and recently wrote about it on his blog:

The trolls inside

The worst troll is in your head.

Internet trolls are the commenters begging for a fight, the anonymous critics eager to tear you down, the hateful packs of roving evil dwarves, out for amusement.

But the one in your head, that voice of insecurity and self-criticism, that’s the one you need to be the most vigilant about.

Do not feed the troll.

Do not reason with the troll.

Do not argue with the troll.

Most of all, don’t litigate. Don’t make your case, call your witnesses, prove you are right. Because the troll knows how to sway a jury even better than you do.

Get off the troll train. Turn your back, walk away, ship the work.

Whether you call him/her “the gremlin” or “the troll”, the bottom line is that the critical voice does not have to win unless you let it.  Be strong, be disciplined, and be willing to let the coach’s voice win.

What clients are saying…

“It was great working with you, Hilari.  Throughout my 13 years with PCL I have been giving presentations constantly, and the best coaching and feedback that I ever got was working with you.  Your feedback and coaching changed the way I will prepare for presentations in the future.  I was impressed by your knowledge of construction lingo, how you understood what we were trying to say, and how you helped us to word it in just the right way.  Looking forward to working with you again.” “

Ragan Bryce

Project Superintendent, PCL Construction

“Working with Hilari for a couple of days, improved my presentation ability and communication skills more than using any other type of speech association for almost a year”

Jesus Angulo

Project Manager, PCL Construction 

Wishing you much success and happiness,

Hilari Weinstein

High Impact Communication

602-795-5400 FREE

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