One of the most common concerns I hear from people who are on the path to speaking is
“I’m afraid people will judge me.”
I hear it all the time. The same fear comes in all shapes and sizes.
They’ll say I’m not an expert. They’ll roll their eyes. They’ll ridicule me. They’ll be bored. If I lose my place, they’ll lose respect. If I fumble, they’ll decide I’m unworthy. They’ll judge my story, my voice, my body, my outfit, my front tooth.
Here’s the big news,
PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU
You might know that I host a story slam in Boulder. It’s a storytelling event where we offer a theme for the night, and anyone in the audience who has a true, 5-minute story based on the theme can put their name in the hat. If their name gets picked, they come to the stage to tell a story.
At the end of the night, the audience votes on the best story. And there’s a winner. But mostly it’s about being in a room together and telling stories.
That said, if you get up and tell a story,
PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU.
But here’s the thing:
Any time you step out on stage to speak, you are saying
I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY THAT I WANT YOU TO HEAR.
As you’re saying that, the audience is asking themselves:
What does this person have to say that will make a difference in my life?
Which pretty much means that in some way, they’re judging you.
And judgment looks a whole lotta different ways:
They’re asking: Does this person get me? How is this person like me? How are they different? Can I learn anything from this person? Is listening worth my time? Does this person have what it takes to inspire me? To move me? To change my life?
They might think you’re the most amazing thing since sliced bread.
They might and worship and adore you.
They might tell their friends how wise (or brilliant, or amazing, or edgy, or smart) you are.
Or, maybe they didn’t sleep too well last night, or had a fight with their partner, or feel bad about themselves, or lost a pet that morning, or lost a client, or have been months without a new client, or feel jealous of you, or wish they were you.
Maybe they want to be a speaker and aren’t.
Maybe they already thought the thing you’re saying and wish they said it first.
Maybe they’re uncomfortable in their chair. Or their shoes. Or their body. Or their heart.
Which means they might slather their disappointment and discomfort all over you.
They might judge you for losing your place,
for the shape of your body,
for saying um,
for not being an expert,
for your outfit.
They might judge you for the story you tell
for your voice
for your shoes,
for the way you walk.
They might judge you for your front tooth.
You still wanna speak? Or are you ready to throw in the towel? Who in the world would want to speak when you’re getting that kind of judgment thrown at you?
SOUNDS HARSH, RIGHT?
But you wanna know who’s probably judging you even more harshly?
Yep. You got it.
There’s a good chance you’re judging you way harder than they are.
When I work with a client who’s prepping for a presentation, and I get them on their feet to deliver, we work, we take a pause and then we chat about how that went.
It’s astonishing to me how many people want to start with all the things that went terribly wrong. (Of course the terrible is only their perception of terrible…)
It’s great to look at ways to improve, and things to work on, but when you’re taking a big leap, trying something bold, stepping out of your comfort zone, of course you’re not gonna be perfect.
THAT’S THE POINT!!
Let’s start with all the things you’re doing RIGHT.
Let’s start with what you’ve already got dialed in.
Let’s breathe life into the spots where you’re already brilliant.
So yeah. People will judge you. They will. They just will.
The best way to take on the judgment coming at you from out there,
is to quiet the judgment coming from in here.
So if you’re gonna put yourself out to the (kind, compassionate, mostly very generous) crowds of humans, and risk judgement, you gotta dig deep into your own well, stay true to your message, stay true to the thing you care most deeply about, STOP THE NONSENSE of your own self-judgement, and SPEAK!
Speak what you need to speak. Change the lives you’re here to change.
And when people judge you, (BECAUSE THEY WILL!) you can flick it off your shoulder like a tiny gnat, and keep moving forward, keep speaking your truth, keep changing the world by being you.
I’d love to hear your biggest fear around speaking, and what you do to keep the inner judgment at bay.
To your voice!