This was the thing I dreaded the most. A video coming out…evidence that I wasn’t as good a speaker as they said I was. And the kicker? I’m the one releasing the video to the world.  Why? To prove the point of this entire video. Confidence & likability is 99% about showing up and playing all in. I’m going to share my secrets on confidence and help you move out of the space of perfectionism that likely holds you back. And…yes…I will share the video of me totally flubbing a talk – so be sure to stick around for that !

 

I have been a professional speaker for over 7 years now. 7 years in a career that is most people’s worst nightmare. Public speaking always makes the list of people’s greatest fears and I think for good reason. You are so vulnerable up there. Everyone is looking at you, judging you, waiting for you to fail.

Well…maybe. I actually think the key to confidence in speaking or showing up for anything really is in adjusting your mindset.  There isn’t a winner or a loser. A successful person and a failure. These binary options aren’t the only choices. In fact I think the key is in recognizing the only real failure is not showing up to play the game at all.

Think for a moment about a person you admire for their confidence. How are you measuring their confidence? What is it that they do or don’t do that makes you see them as a confident person? 

Here’s what I’ve observed. Confidence is 99% just showing up. Playing the game. Win or lose, people appear confident when they play all in.

When I think about a confident person, one of the members of my former lab always pops into my head. He was never afraid to look the fool or potentially “lose”. Hey Eli, wanna play basketball. 

I’ve never played, sure!

Hey Eli, would you make the tamales? I don’t even know what those are but sure let’s do this!

Eli was always up for a challenge. It wasn’t that he was going to be perfect at any new task he tried. In fact, the epic failures of his misadventures became things of legends, but he was always game to join in and give it a crack. That, is confidence. The willingness to try. To start. To just do it. Without the script, without the teleprompter, without the practice or clear directions….. without knowing exactly how things will turn out. 

It turns out, the big secret to confidence is being willing to show up,  screw up…and just….keep….going. Play all in. Remember that the opposite of winning isn’t  losing …it’s really whether or not you showed up at all.

So how can you use this information to help you move to a more confident and successful life?

Whenever I’m writing a new talk I find I have a really hard time practicing it because when I don’t get the words perfect, I stop, fumble, try again, and 2 hours later I’m still on my first slide. 

Perfectionism holds us back because we often won’t start….or finish. We get stuck on that sentence, that first paragraph, that little obstacle to overcome.  And instead of playing all in…we just pull ourselves on the sidelines.

There’s a quote about this that’s often misattributed to Hemingway, but nevertheless I’m quite fond of it: “Write drunk, edit sober.” In other words, stop trying to edit as you go or only play the games you know you’ll win. Stop stopping. Just flow…screw up…make mistakes, keep going. It’s something I realize I do when I actually AM in front of an audience. I don’t have the luxury of just stopping and stewing about that less than perfect delivery or analogy I just made or the reference I can’t quite remember. I just have to keep going.

 

So to play at my own game I decided to screw up royally in something called SLIDESHOW KARAOKE, or something my friends and I used to call, “that talk is today?” 

Here’s how it works. Get with a group of friends and have one person leave the room. In 5 minutes construct 5 slides on any topic, using graphs, acronyms, jargon, whatever you want! Then have the person come back into the room and confidently present on the topic using the never before seen slides.

To get you started, I’ve included a set of sample slide decks that you can download in the description below so you don’t have to rely on your friends to create decks for you.

So here’s the challenge: Sometime this week, pick a deck, pull up Zoom, and hit the record button BEFORE opening your deck. Then post your recording of you fumbling through the presentation in the comments below!

You’re meant to screw it up! So go for it!!!! Try playing all in on this little low stake game. You might just surprise yourself at just how confident you come across!

And here’s the crazy thing. Research has found that when you’re willing to play all in like this, people find you to be more likable, more confident, and even more trustworthy! What’s there to lose?

As a side note, It’s only fair I play my own game, so if you really want to, you can watch my attempt (I had our producer create some never before seen slides for me). That video is here and I gotta say…I had some fun with it! Feel free to check it out and let me know your reactions in the comments.

 

Enjoy, and be fear(less)!