There is one cardinal rule that extraordinary speakers follow when they’re addressing others. They have learnt that the message is more important than they are. The moment you make the message about ‘you’ as the speaker is the moment you lose the connection with your listener. Exceptional speakers understand that what they have to share is important and beneficial to their audience, so they’re prepared to step out of their own way. They have learnt ways to manage the small mini-me inside that says ‘but this is really nerve-wracking and what if I stuff it up and what if I make a fool-out-of-myself.’ Inside everyone of us is a small child. This tiny being just wants to be safe and warm and out of harm’s way. This mini-me wants to cocoon itself away from prying eyes and be forever looked after and nurtured. Part of becoming a fully realised adult and a leader means realising that we are here to serve others in a much bigger way than what this child usually feels comfortable with. Learning how to hear mini-me and all of her pleas to ‘stop and freeze’ and to go ahead anyway is a self-esteem boosting exercise. Being prepared to ‘die’ on stage or be humiliated in public is literally life-threatening to some mini-me’s. That’s why most people would prefer to be in the coffin than delivering the obituary at a funeral! Yet it is the very challenge of going through the space of possible annihilation that helps the soul to grow. My mentor has always said ‘a bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.’
One way to get out of the way and deliver a message especially when you lose your way mid-sentence is to practice expanded awareness. Expanded awareness is a visual technique which is a feminine way of managing energy in a room. Expanded awareness occurs when you bring your eyes just above eye level and take in the entirety of the situation or room in front of you. Expanded awareness enables you to ‘see out of the corner of your eyes’ and take in the whole of the room so that you don’t get stuck on one part of the room or a single person. Expanded awareness also allows you to access the subconscious mind for information.
If you do lose your train of thought mid-sentence, you won’t generally find the answer by looking down at the floor or at a singular point which focuses the brain and prevents the wider access to answer. This is known as foveal vision and it’s is a more masculine vision. This is a great way for speakers to take in each and every person and track the room in a more focussed way. However, it has potential to distract and derail you as a speaker if you’re not aware of it. It is especially key as it is also a place the mini-me or wounded child likes to hang out. Looking up takes you away from your ‘kinaesthetic’ or feeling awareness states so that you can move into a greater visual/observer state.
I’ve always marvelled at how well expanded awareness works when someone asks a question and I’m not sure if I can answer. Going into an expanded awareness has enabled me to access memory files from patient and client profiles from 20 years ago when I was a student therapist. It sometimes feels like divine intervention is at work when the answer can be found buried under so much information but the miracle is in the technique and it’s something everyone can learn.
The more you practice speaking, the more the mini-me is able to settle into the realisation that you won’t be harmed. Even after years of presenting workshops, I still find mini-me piping up with words like ‘you can’t’ and ‘you’ll fail’. My method of pacifying it is to literally pretend it is like a baby needing holding with unconditional love. I mentally picture myself swaddling the baby and holding the baby gently to sleep while I carry on speaking in expanded awareness. It’s important to also be well-prepared so there’s less uncertainty and less reason for mini-me to pipe up. I also carry the Confucius mantra with me always that says something like this: ‘If you have benefited from some information and had a positive experience with it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.’
It’s not about you beloved. It’s about the people who will benefit from you speaking on purpose. Whatever your medium is, whether it’s through the written word, workshop, painting or video, what you have to express is important and could change someone for the better. So let your mini-me know that she’s safe and go and speak your purpose!