Public Speaking Tip #3: Give yourself credit for things you do well
When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will. --Abe Lincoln
And when you focus on what could (or did) go wrong with your presentation, you surely will. Not that there is anything wrong with constructive self-criticism; we all need that to improve. But before and after your presentation, be sure to give yourself credit for what you did--and do--well. Acknowledge your innate skills.
For example, in those nervous moments before you begin your talk, focus on your best skills, whatever they may be.
- Are you enthused about your talk?
- Are you passionate about your points?
- Do you care about your audience?
- Are you good at conveying your points simply and concisely?
- Or are you a good at technical details and can give extensive, in-depth information?
- Are you good at answering questions and are comfortable with audience interactions?
- Do you have a good, clear voice?
- Do you come across as confident, even when you're not?
- Do people like you?
- Are you a good researcher who can quote her sources?
For example, if you're nervous about questions going in, remind yourself that you are passionate about your subject matter, that you've done the research, and that you are the one who understands all of its ins and outs. Or if you are nervous about not understanding every technical detail and are speaking in front of a group of technical experts, remind yourself that your best skills are making complicated things simple and conveying the big picture in a clear, confident way. Or if you are worried that you have a soft voice and not much of a presence, remind yourself that you come alive and sound intelligent when you answer even the toughest audience questions.
There is a time and place for constructive criticism. There is also a time and place for constructive back-patting. Don't let nervousness or your desire for improvement overshadow giving yourself credit for the skills you implement without even thinking about them.