Have you ever said, “no, thank you” to an invitation to speak? Most women you know have. Sharp, accomplished, incredible women we’d be lucky to learn from. But they hesitate.
They decline for reasons like the pressure to be an “expert,” the nerves that come with public speaking, or a lack of clarity and confidence in making a lasting impact with their words.
It’s time to reframe our thinking around the term public speaking.
Throughout my career, I’ve stepped to the front of the room, onto stages and behind screens to speak to well over a million people. Literally.
And the term “public speaking” still brings back the feeling of that awkward-as-hell speech class in college.
What if it’s just not that big a deal?
What if it doesn’t have to be that hard?
What if it doesn’t have to feel that heavy?
As a speaker and speaker coach, I’ve found 3 powerful reframes for public speaking that lighten the load, ease tension and cultivate confidence. Reframes that boost your communication confidence and empower you to step into your leadership presence.
Wayne Dyer says that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
It’s time to change the way you see speaking.
It’s time to reframe your perspective on communication.
It’s time to unleash the confident, authentic, impactful leader within you.
Reframe #1: Public Speaking is Storytelling
I have witnessed countless incredible women who possess brilliant ideas and expertise but struggle to embrace their full power when it comes to sharing their message.
The thing that’s tripping them up? The idea of positioning themselves as an expert.
You know the voice of imposter syndrome, don’t you? That disempowering worry that you’re not as smart as everyone thinks you are. And the fear that they’ll find out.
Anything that feels like positioning yourself as an expert pokes right in the face of imposter syndrome, doesn’t it?
I get it.
But there is one thing in the world in which you’re an undeniable expert.
In fact, you’re THE expert. The only person in the whole world who has this expertise.
It’s your story.
The next time you’re asked to give a talk, share your story.
The relevant and impactful parts will resonate with your audience and lead them toward your goal.
Then double down by sharing the lessons you learned and how your audience can apply them to their own lives.
Story is the most compelling communication vehicle you can use to lead and influence. Here’s how you can level up your use of your storytelling superpower:
Embrace the Power of Vulnerability
Especially as a woman in leadership, you may feel pressure to present yourself as a flawless expert. But here’s the truth: Vulnerability is not a weakness; it’s a strength. As my mentor Mary Graham always says, “No one cares about when you got it right. We want to know what happened when it all went wrong. What did you do? What did you learn that will help me with the challenge I’m facing?” Your story, with all its ups and downs, is a powerful tool that can inspire and empower others. Embrace your vulnerabilities, for they are the stepping stones to your authenticity.
Craft Your Personal Narrative
Your journey is a tapestry of experiences, lessons, and growth. It’s time to weave that tapestry into a compelling narrative that captivates your audience. Start by reflecting on your personal and professional milestones, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the insights you’ve gained. Identify key moments that shaped your perspective and connect them to the message you want to share. Craft your narrative with authenticity and purpose, allowing others to see themselves in your story.
Amplify the Lessons Learned
Your story isn’t just about you—it’s about the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Every obstacle you’ve faced and triumph you’ve achieved has equipped you with unique insights that can benefit others. When you shift your focus from being an “expert” to being a sharer of wisdom, you empower yourself and your audience. Share the practical lessons, mindset shifts, and strategies you’ve discovered through your journey. It’s a generous act that creates a ripple effect of growth and transformation.
The power of storytelling lies in its ability to foster connections and inspire change. You have the opportunity to use your voice as a catalyst for transformation. Share your story in a way that resonates with your audience, making them feel seen, understood, and motivated to take action. Remember, the purpose of your communication is not to impress, but to impact and uplift. Approach every speaking opportunity as an opportunity to touch lives and create positive change.
Reframe #2: Public Speaking is Conversation
I love a good conversation, don’t you?
The opportunity to share our stories, thoughts and ideas. To engage in the stories, thoughts and ideas of others.
Good conversation is good for the soul.
Not everyone is invigorated by conversation. But for all of us, conversation feels lighter than presentation, doesn’t it?
Too often, we think of public speaking as a daunting, no-fun, heavy task. When we imagine a one-way flow of information from the speaker to the audience, it is daunting and heavy. And it can be no stinkin’ fun.
Whether you’re standing on a stage, at the head of table, front of the room or looking at a group of faces in squares on a screen, reframe the idea of speaking as the opportunity for a meaningful conversation. The kind that teaches, persuades and inspires.
Not only can you reframe speaking as conversation, but you can also make your presentation a conversation. And that’s a gift for you AND your audience.
Make your next speaking opportunity more engaging, connecting and moving with conversation principles like:
Foster Active Listening
Authentic conversation is built on active listening. When you engage with your audience, take the time to truly listen. Encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences, and make space for their voices to be heard. By actively listening, you create an environment of respect and inclusivity, enhancing the overall experience for both you and your audience.
Lean Into the Power of Questions
Asking questions is a powerful tool to ignite conversation and foster engagement. Instead of solely providing answers and information, invite your audience to reflect, participate, and contribute. By creating an interactive experience, you not only make your message more memorable but also create a deeper connection with your audience.
Adapt and Respond
True conversation requires flexibility and responsiveness. Embrace the ebb and flow of the moment and adjust your delivery based on the energy and feedback you receive. Be open to spontaneous exchanges and adapt your message to cater to the specific needs and interests of your audience. This adaptability not only keeps your presentation dynamic but also demonstrates your genuine interest in connecting with those you speak to.
Speaking is an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation. Imagine yourself in a room full of like-minded people eager to connect and learn from you and each other.
Embrace the idea that your audience is your partner in this conversation. Their participation is as crucial as yours.
Reframe #3: Public Speaking is Serving
When you step up to share your story, your wisdom, your expertise with someone else, you step into the opportunity to change lives in positive, lasting ways.
Leading and influencing through public speaking is a generous act of service.
It’s not about self-promotion. It’s about empowering, inspiring, uplifting others.
When you approach public speaking from this perspective, you use your words and your voice to make a meaningful difference and leave a lasting legacy.
Reframing speaking as serving provides a powerful shift that can supercharge your impact. It allows you to:
Release the Fear of Judgment:
One of the biggest barriers to speaking with confidence is the fear of judgment. But when you reframe speaking as an act of serving, the focus shifts from you to your audience. Embrace the idea that your words have the power to inspire, educate, and positively impact others. By releasing the fear of judgment, you free yourself to fully step into your role as a servant leader and share your authentic message with conviction and clarity.
Understand Your Audience’s Needs
To serve your audience effectively, you need to understand their needs, desires, and challenges. Take the time to research and empathize with your audience before each speaking engagement. What are their pain points? What solutions can you provide? By truly understanding their perspective, you can tailor your message to address their specific concerns and offer valuable insights that resonate deeply.
Generosity is the essence of serving others through speaking. Share your knowledge, experiences, and expertise generously, without holding back. Provide practical tips, actionable strategies, and tangible takeaways that your audience can implement immediately. When you give without reservation, you create a ripple effect of growth and transformation, leaving a lasting impact on those who hear your words.
Inspire Action and Change
As a servant leader, your ultimate goal is to inspire action and drive positive change. Encourage your audience to take the knowledge you share and apply it in their lives. Motivate them to step out of their comfort zones, embrace new possibilities, and pursue their dreams with renewed confidence. By inspiring action, you empower others to become the best versions of themselves and create a ripple effect of success in their own lives.
When you speak with the intention to serve, you create a profound impact on the lives of those who listen. Your voice is a catalyst for transformation, and it’s time to use it to make a difference that will resonate and ripple out far beyond what you can see.
Ultimately, Speaking is Leading
Here’s the bottom line: Speaking is not just about sharing information; it’s about leading.
You wield a transformative power when you step into your leadership presence as you communicate.
After all, leadership is not reserved for a select few; it resides within each one of us. You have the power to lead through your words and actions. You bring a unique perspective to the table and the influence you have over others. When you step into your leadership potential, your communication takes on a whole new level of impact and significance.
You command attention and respect when you lead with confident and authoritative communication. Embrace your expertise and knowledge, and communicate with conviction and clarity. Stand tall, own your space, and let your words resonate confidently. As you command the space, your audience responds to your leadership presence and is inspired to follow your lead.
It’s time to fully realize your leadership position and communicate with authority, clarity, and confidence. Paint a vision that inspires others to follow your lead and take action. Lead by example and embody the values you hold dear. When you speak as a leader, you empower yourself and inspire others to step into their own leadership potential.
As you reflect on the possibilities that lie before you, let’s imagine together the impact we can collectively create when more women step up and speak up.
Imagine a world where boardrooms, conference stages, and influential platforms are filled with the voices of empowered women who fearlessly share their stories, wisdom, and ideas.
A world where your unique perspectives and experiences shape conversations, drive innovation and inspire change.
Envision the ripple effect of empowerment, as the next generation of young women witness the power and influence we embody through our words and actions.
When women embrace the reframed perspective of speaking as sharing their stories and continuous learning, conversations that foster genuine connections, generously serving others, and leading with confidence, the possibilities are endless.
We become catalysts for transformation, unlocking the untapped potential within ourselves and those around us.
Remember, your voice matters. Your message matters
Your words have the power to create lasting impact and shape the future. Embrace the reframes, step into your communication brilliance, and unleash your full potential.
The time is now to rise, speak up, and leave an indelible mark on the world.