Stop beating yourself up

By Kendall Martin

Do you spend too much time fixated on your mistakes or weaknesses as a speaker? Take a break from that negative thinking to reflect on what you do well. Focusing on your strengths isn’t just a way to boost your confidence; it will also help you plan and improve your speeches.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What makes me feel energized? Ask people why their favorite speaker wowed them and one of the reasons you will hear is that the speaker focused on what they knew best. It makes sense. You want to believe the speaker. And in order for you to do that, the speaker has to believe in what he or she is saying.
     
    Identify the topics that inspire you. Start with the subjects that you are well-versed in, but then narrow them down to the parts of those topics that excite you. Your audience wants enthusiasm and energy.
     
  2. What parts of my presentations get the strongest reactions? Replay previous speeches and identify the parts that generated a reaction from the audience. Did people laugh at your jokes? Were they engaged in your stories? Were your audience participation exercises a hit?
     
    Use that information to build a better speech. Leave out what didn’t work, and perfect what did.
     
  3. What feedback have I received? When people give you compliments after a speech, what do they highlight? Use praise to identify what works and constructive criticism to recognize potential problem areas.

What other tips do you have for capitalizing on your strengths?

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