Do you believe in yourself?
I recently spoke to a good friend, a client, who also happens to be a very successful contractor. He is making the transition to professional speaker. He walks his talk. The growth of his company is impressive. He is one of the most teachable people I know. He is a sponge. As he makes the transition to seminar leader, he admitted to me he gets nervous before a presentation. He asked me if I did after all these years. I laughed and said, "I used to get butterflies. About ten years ago, I just taught them how to fly in formation!"
Confidence is belief in your own efficacy. Two things are vital for a professional speaker: platform skills and content.
In Jay Leno's autobiography, Leading with My Chin, he tells the story of his early days in standup. He was making a name for himself in New York City and Boston. One day, a scout for Johnny Carson, the king of late-night comedy, attended one of Jay's shows. The next night, Johnny himself was sitting in the audience! In those days, one appearance on The Tonight Show could make or break a comedian's career. After his set, Carson called him over to his table and offered some advice: "Kid, you got great ATTITUDE; you just need better JOKES!" It changed young Leno's life. What Carson was saying was, "you have the requisite PLATFORM SKILLS, but you need better CONTENT."
When I started in this business, I did a number of things that shaped both my content and platform skills. I committed to:
- Watching politicians on television with the sound off. I didn't want to hear what they were saying, but I studied the facial expressions, hand gestures, etc.
- I went to comedy clubs, especially those with the A-list guys and gals.
- I made "humor" a study. I read every book I could find, including biographies and autobiographies.
- I invested in comedy CDs and listened to them while I drove.
- I invested in comedy VHS tapes and, eventually, DVDs.
- I attended every seminar, keynote, and workshop of the finest speakers who came to Seattle.
- While in Las Vegas, I went to a show every night. I studied every aspect of the performers' content and platform skills: delivery, style, the use of pauses, hand gestures, call backs, and improvisation.
- I kept a journal and after every seminar asked myself two questions: "What did I do well?" and "What could I improve?"
- I wrote out "Speaking Goals" and affirmed them thousands of times aloud with positive emotion.
- I reached out to mentors and asked for advice.
- I invested in coaching in both speaking and writing.
- I joined Toastmasters and attended regularly.
Other than that, I didn't do much.
The following formula appears in my book, It's About TIME. If you read this simple formula aloud once a day for 90 days, a special something will happen inside you. Your confidence, worth, and self-esteem will increase.
The Self-Confidence Formula
- I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite chief aim and purpose in life; therefore, I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action!
- I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action and gradually transform themselves into physical reality; therefore, I will concentrate my thoughts for 30 minutes a day upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear and exciting mental picture!
- I know through the principle of autosuggestion (declaring and affirming aloud), any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it; therefore, I will devote 10 minutes daily to demanding of myself this development of self-confidence!
- I have clearly written down a description of my definite chief aim in life and I will never stop trying until I shall developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment!
- I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure unless built upon truth and justice; therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me because of my willingness to serve others first and enthusiastically. I will eliminate hatred, envy, resentment, self-pity, criticism/judgment/cynicism/ridicule, selfishness, and impatience by developing a true love for all of humanity ("I love people!"). Because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me because I will believe in them and in myself. I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, read it aloud once a day for 90 days with full faith that it will gradually influence my thoughts and actions so that I will become confident, grateful, and a successful professional.
First we work on our goals and then they work on us. Go to work on your platform skills and content. It won't matter that you lead with your chin. When you step on the stage, your butterflies will be flying in formation...and you will have confidence.