Developing Self-Belief As A Speaker

self belief

Building self-belief is key to being a successful business leader.

In a previous article about message management we looked at the speaking skills of professional golfer Adam Scott.

In April 2013, Scott became the first Australian to win The Masters, one of the biggest events in golf.

Even though Scott was 32 years old, the average age of first-time major champions in golf, it was an achievement well overdue for a golfer whom much was expected from a young age.

In the wake of winning The Masters, Scott addressed his poor performance in major champions for years in part due to lack of self belief. 

It’s All In Your Head

Self-confidence or self-belief is our ability to judge our own abilities.

There is a self-belief spectrum. You’ve likely met people that are a little too sure of themselves to the point of being overconfident in their abilities. You’ve probably also met people that are unsure in their abilities.

These tasks could be something simple such as setting up your brand new computer through to something much more involved like leading a large corporation.

Even people that are successful in one area find themselves questioning their ability in another area.

This is the case with many of the business leaders I work with every day. They have done great things in their professional lives, but still find it difficult to speak in front of groups.

For these clients, speaking in front of people is terrifying. Before they get in front of an audience they wonder what they will think of us. They let their minds run wild with worry and it causes them to lose our self-belief.

Adam Scott Chokes And It Builds His Self-Belief

Adam Scott reached the pinnacle of the golfing world by winning The Masters in 2013, but it was only nine months earlier when he suffered heartbreak.

At the 2012 Open Championship, Scott dominated the entire week until the last four holes when a meltdown in his play saw him lose the championship.

For many golfers this type of loss has led to a complete loss of confidence. For Scott, he took it as a sign that what he was doing was working.

“It just gave me the belief that I’m good enough to win a major. It was like the final piece in the puzzle for me to get that through my head,” he said.

“The way I prepare now I feel like all the work just accumulates and then it’s up to me to execute it and rely on my instincts and what talent I have to play the game at the right time.”

We all suffer disappointment in life. We work hard to achieve something and often we face difficultly getting there.

For Scott, he took being in contention as a sign that he was doing something right. He used the experience to build his self-belief that he had what it took to win.

For business leaders, finding yourself in front of a group is a good sign. It means you’ve been doing the right things in your professional life. You’ve impressed. You’ve delivered results. Your peers see you as a leader and they want to hear what you have to say.

Building Self-Belief As A Speaker

According to psychologist Albert Bandura, those with high self-efficacy or self-belief are those that believe they can perform well. When presented with a difficult task these people look for ways to master the challenge while those that lack self-belief look for ways to avoid the challenge.

Speaking in front of groups often reminds people of bad memories.

From back in our school days it might be the memory of being called on in class and not having the answer.

For professionals, it might be the memory of losing a thought for a moment while writing something on the whiteboard in a meeting.

These can be painful moments for all of us. If we focus on these negative feelings we’re likely to look at the challenge of speaking and find ways to avoid it.

Being able to see speaking as something to master is one of the first steps to becoming a great speaker. It’s a challenge that can be mastered, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

There is a myth in the world today. We live in a time when things are instant. There are instant stars in entertainment. Social media stars are born overnight. Even business leaders seem to becoming CEOs overnight. Look at @MarkZuckerberg as an example.

But is there really such a thing as an overnight success?

Practice Makes Perfect (Good Routines Build Confidence)

Adam Scott was once a can’t-miss golfing prodigy. He was seemingly born with all the talent he needed to hit a golf ball far and straight while putting it into the hole with the nerves and precision of a surgeon.

But the public only finds out about overnight successes once they’ve achieved something. People rarely get a glimpse behind the scenes where all the work takes place.

The public saw Adam Scott – with a beautiful swing and effortless confidence – win @TheMasters.

The public didn’t see the hours Adam Scott put in as a kid hitting balls on the practice range. They didn’t see him when he was entering tournaments during his early life to learn how to compete. They don’t see the work he puts in off camera to prepare for tournaments.

With each business leader I work with we start with the fundamentals of speaking.

If the leader is preparing for a big presentation we’ll go through every detail of what they want to say. We review their vision for how the presentation should go and the results they want once the presentation is over and the audience is left to take action.

Other leaders are looking to improve their overall speaking skills. They want to become a better leader, which is a task that requires vision, selling and persuasion – all components of being a great speaker.

Speaking with self-belief starts with mastering the fundamentals. The most fundamental of these is your thought structure. What are you thinking and how does this thought lead you to your next point? How do you keep on track with your thoughts and where are they leading you? This is what I teach my clients through my training and coaching programs.

I give them techniques and processes to overcome distractions. If you’re not prepared even the slightest break in your routine can throw you off and cause your presentation to fail.

With practice, distractions become part of the task. Good speakers can even learn to take distractions and use them to enhance the presentation.

Adam Scott had a breakthrough once he changed his mindset. He finally became convinced that he had what it took to win the biggest golf tournaments in the world. Instead of viewing a failure as a sign of his incompetence he used it to improve his self-belief.

Golf is not that different from speaking – or any other task in life.

With practice and the right mindset you can build the self-belief that you can become a great speaker.

Once that happens the doors will open for you as a business leader.

If you need to speak with the belief and engagement that comes with your position, just hit reply to this e-mail and let me know. I’ll get back to you and together we can work out a program that builds the self-belief you need.

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