Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Psychological Aspect of Self Presentation, 1

There are physical aspects to how we come over when we present to an audience – how we stand, what our eye contact is like, how we are dressed, what we’re doing with our hands – and they can be altered through training. They are all about how we look and sound when we present.

The psychological aspects are how we feel when we present, and how we make our audience feel – a coaching approach works best for these. It’s the first of these I want to deal with in this blog – how we feel when we are presenting.

As a communication coach, I try to work out with my clients, what they are telling themselves that is undermining their own performance.  Because whatever it is, it will become true.  If you keep telling yourself you can’t think on your feet, or you tell yourself that if you prepare as much as you can then you’re ready for anything, it will become true.  That’s the power of iteration, and knowing its power we should be finding useful things to tell ourselves. I use a technique we were taught on the BBC Coach Foundation Course – turning your NITs into PETs.  Your NITs are your Negative, Inhibiting Thoughts, and your PETs are your Performance Enhancing Thoughts, and we’d all prefer to have pets than nits.  Work out what your inner voice is telling you.  Are you catastrophizing – this will end in disaster?  Are you over generalizing – my presentations are always rubbish?  Or worse, are we telling ourselves something that somebody once said to us – nobody likes a show off, or what makes you think anyone’s interested in what you have to say?  If we consider these statements logically, they are probably not true and certainly not helpful; they are false beliefs that limit our behavior and ambition.  So what could we replace them with?

Here’s where the PET makes its entrance.  The PET is a reframing of the NIT, coming at it from a different direction, which must feel true and authentic.  Nobody likes a show off was one of my NITS as I heard it so often in my early adolescence, and it really did inhibit my behavior.  But then I realized I could choose when it was appropriate to “show off” and that what I was showing off wasn’t all about me, but about my message.  So now my PET is, people really appreciate my energy and enthusiasm in getting my message across.  That’s true, and the more I feel its truth the truer it becomes.  So think what your NIT is, find another way of coming at it, and then replace it with a PET that feels authentic to you.  Start noticing when that inner voice is coming up with those negative thoughts, and disempower them with your PET.  And hear and feel that inner voice enjoying your PET instead. The more you do, the more resonant that PET becomes and the more it influences your behavior.

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