Article Category: Ask Six Minutes, Speaker Habits

Why You Must Relish Every Opportunity to Speak

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To design, prepare, and deliver a great presentation, you’ve got to commit yourself to the task. If you go in half-hearted or, worse, dreading it, your negative attitude will show in the final product.

This is the subject of today’s email from Melissa Cullen:

I’ve been a subscriber since 2010, and Six Minutes has really helped. I have to give presentations about once a month, and I get compliments on them now. However, every time another presentation gets scheduled, I’m filled with dread about having to speak, yet again. Does this feeling of apathy ever go away? What can I do to get rid of the speaking blues?

In this article, we’ll look at how to adopt a positive mindset about speaking.

Shift Your Vocabulary, Shift Your Attitude

As I was trying to choose between several reader questions for this article, I popped over to one of my favorite blogs by Michael Hyatt. His article — How a Shift in Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude — addresses Melissa’s question.

Michael writes:

[…] several weeks ago, I was headed out of town to a speaking engagement. A friend called and asked me where I was going. I said, “Oh, I’m headed to San Jose. I have to speak at a convention.” I said it with a little resignation in my voice.

When I hung up, it hit me. I don’t have to speak. I get to speak. That instantly changed my attitude. […]

The first expression (i.e., I have to do it) is the language of duty. Nothing wrong with that. I am all for responsibility. But too often, we say it with a sigh, like it’s a sentence—or we are a victim.

The second expression (i.e., I get to do it) is the language of privilege. It is as if we have been given a gift, and we are relishing the opportunity.

I agree with Michael entirely. While it may also be a duty, we must remember that every opportunity to speak is a privilege to be relished. It’s an opportunity to put our ideas forward. It’s an opportunity to start a dialogue to solve problems. It’s an opportunity to motivate others into action.

Adopting a positive attitude will reap a bounty of rewards for you. Not only will the effort to plan and prepare your presentation seem less onerous, but you’ll be energized and excited when it’s your time to speak. Framing the opportunity as a privilege also makes you more audience-focused, and that’s always a good thing.

More Vocabulary Shifts for Speakers

Framing a speaking opportunity as a privilege takes care of the big picture, but you can apply the same vocabulary switch to other elements of the speaking process.

Every opportunity to speak is a privilege to be relished.

For example:

Instead of: Editing my speech takes too much time.
Try this: Every revision makes my message crisper.

Instead of: I have to present a report on my team’s progress bi-weekly.
Try this: Management cares about the success of my project.

Instead of: I hate when people nitpick my speech.
Try this:  I am lucky to get feedback about how to improve.

Instead of: Text slides are easier to prepare.
Try this:  Visual slides are better for my audience.

Instead of: Everyone in the audience is judging me.
Try this: Everyone in the audience seeks value from me.

Instead of: My nerves show how much I want to flee.
Try this: My nerves show how much I want to succeed.

Instead of: I doubt many people in the audience will be persuaded.
Try this: If I persuade even a small group of people, it’s a success.

Instead of: I have to fill thirty minutes on the agenda with my presentation.
Try this: I’m lucky so much of the agenda is available to share my message.

Instead of: I fear getting asked a question which I can’t answer.
Try this: My Q&A session shows people are engaged, and is the first step of a continued dialogue.

Instead of: I’d like to be paid to speak.
Try this: I’m going to earn a paid speaking engagement.

Your Turn: What’s Your Opinion?

What words or phrases in your vocabulary can use a shift?

Please share in the comments.

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Comments icon5 Comments

  1. Attitude is everything!

    Great examples of changing that perception, Andrew.

    Now, I have to work on my next blog post. Oops, I get to write another article and I always learn when doing that!


  2. I agree, Andrew, that the words we use shape the way we think. The way we think shapes our attitude, and our attitude affects how we perform. Using positive language matters. In that same vein, I encourage my clients to re-define 1) themselves, from timid victim to welcoming host, 2) the audience, from judge to friend, from adversary to partner in the event, and 3) their job as speaker, from needing to impress or get approval to giving value. A shift in perspective makes a huge difference.

  3. I’m new to public speaking and I’m very appreciative for the great tips shared on Six Minutes.

    I really loved this article for it’s positive spin on attitude and opportunity. This type of positive shift is useful in every situation we encounter in our day.

    I look forward to practicing this shift the next time I have the opportunity to speak in public. While I do not fear public speaking, per se, I do experience a ball of energy that starts in my stomach and radiates outward. This energy is a combination of excitement and nervousness. I may not overcome it completely, but I know in time I will learn to redirect this energy to my words instead of my stomach.


  4. Chau Dao says:

    A great article. Many thanks for this. Every time when I make a speech, I always feel tense and pressure. This article helps me with a more positive attitude so that I will deliver a good speech . Thank again!

  5. Conor Neill says:

    Words matter.

    This may seem like a small change, but it starts a big change within.

    I can’t control how I think… but I can begin to control what I say… and that feeds back into shift my brain towards thought patterns that move me forward, rather than hold me back.

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