Practice Makes ConfidenceMar 02, 2023
We all know the adage “practice makes perfect” but perfect can be predictable, can get quite boring, and can be unapproachable. Instead I like to use the adage, "practice makes confidence". Practice gives you the confidence to believe in yourself (and confidence is SEXY), gives you courage to try new things knowing you’ll get better the more you do them, and gives you permission to push yourself into areas you never expected. This week I celebrated 9 years of practicing public speaking as a member of Cherry Creek Toastmasters (check out the video of my winning speech). Along the way I have created profound memories, gleaned knowledge, and created greater confidence in myself on and off the stage.
I love the quote by Yogi Berra “when you come to a fork in the road, take it” . For many business professionals that fork in the road is public speaking. If public speaking opportunities present themselves, TAKE THEM. Don’t let your fear of public speaking prevent you from sharing your ground breaking ideas, getting that promotion at work, and toasting your dearest friend at their wedding. Bottom line is, if you are a business professional, it is going to be very difficult to avoid speaking publicly your entire career, so why not embrace it, and practice as often as possible? The more “stages” you take, large and small, the better you’ll get.
I am sitting in the middle seat (no I didn’t choose the middle seat intentionally) next to a young man on a 3 hour flight bound for the East coast. He is visibly nervous as he fidgets like a field mouse, with everything from his apple watch, to his iPhone, to his clothes, hair and face. He sees me looking out the window during taxi to takeoff and asks the go to question “What do you do”? I respond “I am a professional speaker and public speaking coach. What about you?” to which he responds “Oh! I hate public speaking”! This is not the first time I’ve heard this response, therefore I am ready with a witty retort as I lean in close to him and say “You do realize you're doing ‘public speaking’ right now”?
That’s right, an airplane seat is a ‘stage’. We tend to envision a room with lots of people sitting in chairs as ‘public speaking’, and it is, but so is any place where you speak and have an influence on other people. Take a moment and identify all the different ‘stages’ you take over the course of a work week - here are a few examples - parenting, virtual/hybrid meetings, networking, elevator, boardroom, cubicle, restaurant, airplane, quarterly business discussion, breakroom, happy hour.
Your communication effectiveness on each of these ‘stages’ will determine if your ideas are understood and bought into. What is great about understanding that there are a host of different ‘stages’ is that you start looking at the lower stakes stages as practice to build your confidence for the higher stakes stages.
If you want to be a business professional who is at the top of your game, then you need to do what professional athletes do! A professional athlete spends more time scrimmaging and reading the play book then they ever do playing in competition. This practice mindset gives them the confidence in knowing that on game day they will be the best that they can be on their ‘stage’.
For 468 weeks (9 years of Toastmasters) I have been scrimmaging, reading the playbook, watching my gameday videos, and working with coaches to finetune my abilities. And today, like many days now, I showed up as the best version of myself and won the game!
Be intentional, practice taking the different ‘stages’ in your life so the next time you come upon a fork in the road you will be ready to take it with confidence.
At Articulated Intelligence we can coach you in your practice, help you find stages on which to practice and build your confidence together.