On Credibility and Nervousness
My friend Theresa is a wonderful speaker. She is alive, animated, smart, articulate and people love her. She came to me recently though and told me that while she does well in front of some audiences – other times she totally loses it. She cannot hold her thoughts, rambles, and finds herself finishing 1-hour talks in 10 minutes. She was perplexed as to why sometimes she could be so confident, self-assured, and charismatic and at other times feel like a bowl of jello.
Nervousness properly managed is a good thing – it is a primal reaction that keeps us sharp and attentive. Becoming so distraught that we are unable to focus is, however, not a good reaction to nervousness. While there are many reasons we get nervous in front of a group – understanding the cause is the first step to managing it to your advantage.
As Theresa and I spoke, the cause of her nervousness became apparent. If she felt the audience knew less about the subject than she did, she was confident and self-assured. What made her nervous was believing the audience might know as much or more than she did on a particular topic
No wonder she was nervous – she was afraid the audience would see her as a fraud despite the fact that she has an advanced degree, tremendous passion and more than 20 years experience.
She had not convinced herself she was a credible source of information – and could not therefore convince the audience of that.
The next time you plan a talk, begin by asking yourself (and do write down the answer!):
“Why am I qualified to speak on this subject?”
If you are like most people, you might initially draw a blank here. However, think hard. How many years experience do you have with this subject, what work, (paid or volunteer) or life experiences do you have that relate to your topic? Do you have a degree or other training that ties in? Do you have a love or passion for what you do?
In order for your audience to perceive you as credible, you have to believe you are credible. There is a reason you are qualified to stand in front of that group and speak – find it and you will feel your nervousness (or part of it anyway) fading away as your self confidence increases.
Thank you to Dr. Jon Hooper for introducing me to the Source Test.
- Comfortable Speakers Are Not Always Effective Speakers (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)
- Show The Audience You Don’t Care (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)
- 6 Ways To Lose Your Audience In The First 10 Seconds (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)
- The Single Most Important Speaking Tip (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)
- How Much Time Do You Really Have To Grab Their Attention? (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)
- On Buying Aspirin And Public Speaking (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)
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