Last weekend, I attended the Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers annual conference where I was presenting at a session about my journey, from starting my bookkeeping business to selling it, and subsequently starting a business coaching business.
I had to give myself a good talking to a few days out from the conference when I realised that the language that I was using around my presentation was not helpful and was, in fact, just making me nervous and anxious about it.
It was under the guise of being funny, or trying to be funny, that I noticed it. I walked into my Pilates class and was asked what I was up to that weekend. I said I was going to a conference and I was presenting at it, and that I was scared sh**less about it. Haha, I’m so funny, right?! I even got some laughs.
They have these angel cards there on the coffee table at my Pilates studio, and I’ll often just pull a card and see what it says. On this particular card were words about how our thoughts create our reality, and I thought to myself, Oh my God, what have you been doing?
You see, I had been saying for ages how nervous I was, how I was feeling really anxious, and that I didn't really know what I was doing. I was scared that I was going to freeze onstage, that I wouldn't have enough to say, etc.
What I was actually doing, by repeating these words over and over again, was manifesting that very thing. I was making myself more anxious by saying I am anxious. I was making myself nervous by saying I am nervous. These words were having physical manifestations in my body as my chest tightened and I felt physically stressed.
“I am” are two of the most powerful words in the English language. This is why affirmations work so well, but they can also create what we don't want when what we don’t want is what we repeat.
So, as I said, I gave myself a good talking to. I should have known better. I know this stuff. I teach this stuff. I wouldn’t let a client get away with it. But sometimes it takes an outside influence, whether that be a friend, a coach, or an angel card, to make us see what we already know.
I immediately started changing the way that I was talking and thinking about this presentation. I started saying, “I've totally got this, people want to hear what I've got to say, you know your stuff, this is your story so of course you know what to say, it's your story!” I started saying “you'll be fine, there's nothing to worry about, people are going to get a lot of value from what you've got to say.”
It was quite miraculous how quickly my emotions around this event changed. I stopped feeling anxious and nervous about it, and instead started to feel entirely comfortable, confident, and not at all nervous. Even when it was time to present, no nerves and, lo and behold, the presentation went really well judging from the feedback I’ve since received.
I can't say it went perfectly, I kept adding stuff in and, far from running out of stuff to say, which was what I was afraid of, I actually had too much to say and ran out of time, rushing through my last few slides.
But it's all learning, right? Public speaking is something that I'm growing into. I'm perfectly fine speaking to small groups and off the cuff to my clients, but the expectation of speaking to a large group is something I'm still getting used to.
I'll get there. With this attitude in place, a little more structure, a little more discipline with content, and a little more practice, before I know it I'll be speaking on stages as big as the Xero conference (big call!).
I'm telling you all this because how we speak, the language that we use, in every moment, every day, is so important to the outcomes of our lives.
So next time you catch yourself talking negatively about yourself, about something that's happening, about your ability, or especially about someone else, replace that language with words that are more affirming to the outcome that you desire and you will be amazed and delighted at how quickly those outcomes occur.
PS: Also applies to the words and the music that we allow into our space. What are you watching? Who are you listening to?