In just a few minutes, I’ll be doing my first presentation to a video camera for a live audience (it’s corporate, not for television.) When people ask about public speaking coaching at Mixonian Institute, that often segues into a conversation about much people hate speaking in public or talking in front of any group. (Much to my surprise, this affects even the chatty folks!) You read a lot about self confidence here because that’s the term that comes to mind when people think about public speaking: having or not having enough self confidence to get your point across in an engaging manner. However, it might be more effective to forget about feeling self confident and focus on being fully present in the speaking situation.
When you are fully present and engaged in what you’re doing, or with the current meeting, you truly forget to worry about your confidence. That’s when you can truly inspire, teach, encourage others in a powerful way, or find creative solutions. You stop thinking about what you’re going to say (or answer) because you’re paying attention to what others are saying.
Which leads us to the question, what is more powerful, confidence or presence?
Confidence is believing you are capable of the task at hand. Be present means you’re paying attention to what is going on. Are these terms really interchangeable?
Here’s the thing. If you’re really paying attention to this present moment, you forget about yourself. It cannot be any other way because you can only think about one thing at a time.
There is this part of your brain who has the job of keeping you safe. That is the voice you hear that always tells you you’re not good enough to succeed in something new. Everyone has it, and dealing with this survival mechanism is what empowers you to move forward. It’s also how you enjoy authentic relationships. The way to deal with it is to shift your focus to the present moment.
Fear is omnipresent. You will never be without fear although you will learn to forget about it. The thing is to feel the fear and do what you need to do, anyway. Being present, being aware of your surroundings, helps you turn down the volume on your fear, see the potential you have to help people right this very moment, and to succeed anyway.
How to be present in this moment.
1. Slowly, take in a deep breath, hold it, and exhale. Pay attention to your breathing.
2. Carefully observe what’s around you. Notice the details in the way things look, feel and smell.
3. Notice the people around you. Focus on what seems to be going on with them and understanding their point of view. You might be surprised to learn that what you thought was so isn’t actually the case. Happens all the time.
Being present is easy. Remembering to be present is not easy. It’s much more "natural" to listen to your fearful self and remain stuck.
If you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself, How am I in this very moment? More than likely, you’re fine right now. The simple act of asking that question, pausing to get present right now, can have a huge impact on your self-confidence. You learn to forget about it and focus on what’s in front of you this very moment.
Do you have any tips for being present at work?