The Confidence to Speak
Last week, I interviewed Leila Singh – business and corporate coach – and something very interesting came up in the conversation. Leila was talking about when she was asked to send a video in on her proposed TEDx talk. Her self-talk at the time was telling her she ‘didn’t have time.’ Now, as a coach herself, Leila knew that the excuse, ‘I don’t have time’ is often covering up some other belief.
You know that’s true, right?
If you have ever heard yourself say, ‘I don’t have time’ – you know there is something else holding you back. I mean, I know you are busy, but if someone told you tomorrow the guys from the National Lottery were coming to film you accepting your big win cheque – you would find time for that, right? Or if your absolute musical/acting/inspirational heroine or hero, was asking to have lunch with you – you would find the time. So, if TIME is not the issue, what is?
Well, often it’s one of the following:-
- Confidence – you don’t believe you can do it
- Fear of failure – (which is lack of confidence in your own ability)
- Fear of success – (which is lack of confidence in your ability/desire to change your life)
- It’s not important to you. Or not important enough to be a priority.
In the case of Leila’s TEDx talk – it certainly wasn’t the last one. It was confidence.
What Causes a Lack of Confidence?
You can track a lack of confidence down to a few common denominators. Either someone has told you that you are no good at something (and that could be yourself doing the telling). Or you have never learned the skills to do it.
If you had never learned how to drive and someone asked you to drive, you would – quite rightly – be nervous about doing it. Even if you had learned the theory, even if you had watched someone else doing it. Until you have learned and practiced those skills yourself, it is perfectly normal to have a lack of confidence.
Many times though – it isn’t a lack of skills that causes low confidence. It comes as a result of either real or imagined negative situations around speaking (or whatever else you lack confidence about).
Childhood Experiences Affect Confidence
If, as a child, you were told to, ‘speak when you are spoken to’ for example, you may have developed the belief that your opinion, your voice, is not worth hearing. If you ever got an answer wrong at school – when asked to answer a question by a teacher (and who hasn’t?) – you may have a fear of being judged for what you are saying and therefore fear speaking.
If you have ever been ridiculed for speaking up, or dried up when giving a presentation because of nerves, or lost a sale, or been in a relationship where your opinions seemed to not matter – then you may have a fear of public speaking.
Maybe you experienced something bad happening to you as a result of speaking up. Maybe you lost a job, got demoted, were branded as a ‘whistleblower’, lost a friend, client or other important relationship as a result of voicing your truth. That would certainly create a lack of confidence.
In Leila’s case, her procrastination over getting the video to me was linked to a fear of being judged. And the irony and perfection in that, is that in the end – her TEDx talk was about being visible, not invisible. Stepping up and speaking up in your career / your business. I find it is often the case that we teach what we need to learn, or what we have already been through and learned our self.
If you didn’t get to see Leila’s amazing TEDx talk already – have a look at it here – Leila
A fear of being judged is at the bottom of many things we would like to do, but don’t have the confidence to do. Many people never start their own business because of that. Many more never write the book that’s inside them. How many people put off their bucket list items I wonder, whether that is learning a new language, going salsa dancing or becoming a professional speaker, because of the fear of being judged?
Where might your fear of being judged have stopped you speaking up? Have you let others in your business take the lead in presentations or pitches because you feel they will be better at it? Have you shied away from speaking at family gatherings, religious gatherings or just from having a difficult conversation with someone?
Is it time for you to find your voice?
Leila said possibly the best thing about doing the TEDx was the feeling she had after coming off stage. She was proud of herself for doing it. She knew it would be something that would give her credibility. And she was glad she didn’t back out as she had wanted to.
I offer women (and men) the opportunity to speak at various events throughout the year. If you need help with content or presentation skills – that’s cool because that’s what I do. If you need help with confidence – one of the best ways of gaining confidence is to step outside your comfort zone. You see what happens is, your comfort zone comes with you. You just made it bigger.
To contact Cheryl – email her on firstname.lastname@example.org