Most public speakers and performers work relentlessly to ensure they use the perfect words at the precise time and in the proper sequence to make people think, feel and act differently. Whether a media interview, keynote address, board meeting or sensitive family matter, we all find ourselves ‘on stage’ with the opportunity to impact.
Most think about what they are going to say before an upcoming critical moment. And afterwards, many of us replay that critical moment in our minds, from every conceivable angle. Sometimes we celebrate victory, most times we worry about what we said and obsessively dwell on how we may have dramatically missed the mark. Our unrelenting inner voice delivers repeated gut punches for our perceived gaffes and incomprehensible botched communicative moments:
- ‘How could I have done that…’
- ‘I wished I would have said…’
- ‘I forgot to say…’
- ‘That didn’t sound right…”
- ‘I sounded like a jerk…’
- ‘I can’t believe I said…’
- ‘They think I’m an idiot…’
- ‘That landed wrong…’
- ‘I didn’t mean it that way…’
- ‘It sounded wrong…’
- ‘Did you see their faces…’
- ‘How come no one said anything…’
- ‘You could’ve heard a pin drop…’
- ‘I just want to curl up and…’
- ‘I wish I didn’t say anything at all – UGH!’
WELL, IT REALLY WASN’T THAT BAD!
Please show yourself some grace and realize that dizzying feeling doesn’t translate to a Southwest Airlines ‘wanna get away’ moment. In fact, during your quest to seek reassurance by those who were either there, or your trusted circle you are continuously seeking perspective from, you quickly learn it really wasn’t that bad! We are our own worst critics – snap it away and know the people you are empowering with your ‘world’s worst moment’ aren’t even talking or thinking about you. Really, they are consumed with themselves much the same way we are when we hyper-analyze each syllable.
I offer a tip that has dramatically helped me. Before each speaking role, I pray that whatever I say positively impacts at least one person. Within that meditation, I ask for divine wisdom to find the right words, despite my human-doomed prepped remarks. You see, I’ve wrestled with everything I’ve described but have peacefully landed in a unique place – while my words may not have been delivered the way I rehearsed or had hoped, they may have cascaded out of my mouth in the perfect way that someone needed to hear them. You see, my sense of perfection isn’t perfect, despite my long-term belief. After all, we are supposed to be speaking in service of those listening. The beauty…we may never know if our words landed perfectly, words that may shape someone’s life. So, before you get anxious about your next speaking opportunity, realize the most important message is the message received. And that magnificent ripple effect you unwittingly create could be traveling the universe in ways you could never have imagined. Own the stage, have faith and believe in a power larger than the moment.