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Self-Talk for Public Speaking Success

Are you aware of your own inner voice? Do you often hear you own inner dialog? Most people engage in a consistent inner dialog whether they are conscious of it or not. We use self-talk as a way to instruct, motivate or to evaluate. Fact is, self-talk can direct our behavior and our very real world outcomes. Psychologists have long studied self-talk (A.K.A self-instruction) and expounded on its power to shape behavior in outcomes in our daily lives. Many studies on the scientific effectiveness of self-talk come from the world of Psychology. One study looked at the power of self-talk on endurance athletes and found it improved athletic outcomes. Another study showed that it can reduce anxiety, increase self-confidence, and additionally – improve performance results. A further meta-analysis of self-talk (analysis of multiple scientific studies) found it is effective in augmenting performance outcomes in a variety of ways. To illustrate, let’s dive into an example of the self-talk I hear often from beginning public speakers:

Negative Self-talk

Beginning public speakers struggle with a variety of speaking challenges but none more than its Psychological ones. Of the many difficulties novice public speakers face, it’s the metal challenges that often require the most effort. In teaching 1000’s of students I hear some common examples of negative self-talk such as:

  • I’m not a good public speaker.
  • I’m going to fail at my next speech.
  • I can’t remember my speech.
  • I feel very nervous while speaking in public.

Interestingly enough, these beliefs can become so ingrained in ourselves that we rarely learn to challenge and more importantly – change them. Self-talk, like beliefs, drive behavior. Positive self-talk can be a powerful ally in our success.

Positive Self-Talk

We should use self talk that empowers rather than dis-empowers us. Most often than not, our habitual self-talk is negative and it hinders our success. Thankfully, like most habits we can change this. Before we explore an example of positive empowering self-instruction, we should detail what that entails. In developing your own positive self-talk, be sure to do the following:

Steps to Develop Positive Self-Talk

  1. Identify your goal(s) & the skill you want to master
  2. Practice the skill you want to master
  3. Develop positive & supportive self-talk
  4. Use you or your name instead of I (See this study)
  5. Consistently & repeatedly practice positive self-talk until it becomes a habit

Now that we know how to develop positive self-talk, let’s look at an example which turns our previous negative self-talk on its head.

  • You are a skilled public speaker.
  • You will succeed at your next speech.
  • You will effortlessly recall your speech.
  • You will feel focused, at ease and confident while speaking.

Your self-talk can have a distinct influence in your success. So practice positive self-talk alongside your effort to master any skill and you’ll enjoy its payback. Speak to yourself with respect, compassion and kindness. May success be yours.

8 thoughts on “Self-Talk for Public Speaking Success”

  1. As an experienced actor, I can attest to how important inner self-talk is. So, often we fall into that inferiority mindset, which is psychologically damaging has negative effects on health and performance. This article has some really solid advice for how to combat that negativity and make your inner monologue work for you.

  2. Positive self talk can make a huge difference. I have met some really great leaders and one thing they all had in common was never letting the voice inside their heads tell them they weren’t good enough. Confidence has the power to inspire people and it shows in public speaking.

  3. I really need to reprogram my mind to be more positive when it comes to public speaking. My brother is an excellent public speaker, and in my mind, I think people assume i should be just as good at public speaking as he is… this additional pressure always backfires on me. I guess it adds to the negative thoughts, as I constantly tell myself, I’m not as good at public speaking as my brother and I’m going to look like a fool and let people down.

  4. Is positive self talk something you offer in the lessons? That is something I know I have always struggled with and likely the main reason I was never a strong public speaker. I can speak with people one on one, specially when I am passionate about the subject we are speaking on but when it comes to groups or crowds, I just crawl into a shell. I always think ” I will embarrass myself!” which I know is a bad thing to think.

    1. Yes, we do teach positive self talk in our courses. Even more importantly, we outline the need to be kind and compassionate to oneself. Give yourself the respect you would like to receive from others. I’m confident you are capable and will see the success you seek.

  5. If these types of interpersonal skills along with mindfulness meditation were taught in schools, we would live in a much more sane world. Intelligence isn’t just about memorizing facts. Nice article here!

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