A friend from an old chapter in my life got in touch over the weekend to say that he was actually she now, and is just closing down the last ebbs and flows from her old life. Now after Kellie Maloney's announcement I felt admiration for her honesty, but it was detached, she was a public figure I'd read about. This was different, very different. My immediate thought for my friend was one of surprise and then shock at her being able to risk judgement in such a public way.
One of the fears I hear about time and time again is that a client will worry their audience will think they're boring/silly/incompetent (delete as appropriate). I tend to try and flip it around and ask them when the last time they walked away from a presentation thinking those things was? Often it's not that long ago, but, importantly, they can't remember the person who left them with that feeling.
They can't remember the person who left them with that feeling.
Just let that sink in for a second. That means, that for the most part, public speaking is a no loose situation. Worst case they forget you. I will admit, that's no a brilliant outcome BUT its a lot nicer than the feeling exposed and humiliated fear most of us can identify with.
In a similar vein, I had dinner with a longstanding friend last night: she is supremely confident in her professional life and is without doubt on her way to the top. Yet, she is terrified of going on a first date and making a bad impression. And that's an issue a lot of us can identify with, but it's one that doesn't work logically. If the other person doesn't feel a spark, chances are they'll forget about you... people don't sit and reminisce about faiiled dates where one person talked a little too much about Arsenal. They do sit and reminisce about the breathtaking, amazing time they met their other half for the first time. For my friend though, the same woman who can confidently argue her case for pay parity with male colleagues, terror reigns in the dating sphere.
If you're sat reading this, and you think you're 'confident', try and think of five situations that are very real and plausible, where your confidence would evaporate. If you don't think you're 'confident', try and think of five situations where you can see there is a certain confidence needed to do it (this could be something like using the tube, especially at rush hour as several friends of mine will attest to).
Now you've got an evidence pool of things to work on and either build or counteract. Confidence, for me, is simply recreating a comfortable situation when you're not comfortable. Sounds really easy doesn't it? Yet, to really be able to do it, you have to have an understanding of the circumstances that you like, and those that you don't. And how you can manage them.
That's where somebody like me comes in, to work with you on this. To increase the spread of your comfort zone, and to help you identify exactly what is comfortable and what isn't. For some, like my friend, this will be easy, as they have an inner steel that lets them confront difficult, challenging situations front on. To those people, I take my hat off!