Many years ago, I did a public speaking course through work. At the end of the course we each gave a speech which was filmed. We were given the video to review in our own time. I was really unhappy with my speech because at one point I lost my way and hesitated for what felt like an eternity.
I dreaded watching that video as I knew my speech was a disaster. In fact, I put it away for months and did not bring it out until a friend who had done the same course suggested we watch our videos together.
We watched hers first and then came the moment I dreaded. I sat there cringing just waiting for the part where I made a fool of myself. But when it came I could not believe it! It was hardly noticeable. Yes, I hesitated, but only briefly. I recovered quickly, and the mistake was barely perceptible!
I was so surprised and relieved because the speech was so much better than I remembered. It made me realise that I was a poor judge of my own abilities. That realisation was very important because my confidence grew after that.
The lesson for me was that our mistakes often seem much bigger to us than to anyone else. If you forget part of your speech or make a mistake it is unlikely that anyone else will notice. Even if they do, it is unlikely that they will remember a week later. The truth is that our audience is not that interested! If we say something of value to them they may remember. But if we fail to impress, unless something disastrous happened, they will quickly forget.
Written by Catherine Syme
I strongly believe that anyone can manage their nerves and become a better public speaker with the right support.