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John Dawson
passionate about helping people get over stage fright and get more out life
passionate about helping people get over stage fright and get more out life


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Standing up for yourself
Public speaking is a sneaky beast. You think it’s about speaking but it's about more than that. It challenges us to be really clear about our values (amongst other things). Questions need answering like: “Why am I saying this?”, “Who am I when I stand up?”. The act of answering those questions can be really useful. For some people they can have a profound effect on their lives. “What’s important to me?" often comes up for people on my courses. Answering that question out loud, in front of people, is very different to just thinking about this in our heads. It has far more power. We need to be prepared to take the risk that people might disagree with us. Or, more strangely, be surprised to hear out loud what we say about ourselves.
Two years ago, a course participant discovered that she couldn’t stay with her company after she spoke about what was important to her. It wasn’t a question that she’d asked herself before. It turns out there wasn’t a close fit between what the company valued and what she did. All because she was preparing to do a speech (and the company was paying! - sorry boss). Sometimes speech preparation can produce awkward answers!
Great speakers are usually comfortable with themselves, in their own body and with their own values. They exhibit fearlessness, which is not about the lack of adrenal squeeze but more about not being afraid of who they are. They have uncovered what really matters.
 “Courage is not the absence of fear but the realization that there is something more important”.
Victor Frankl’s words beg a powerful question.
What’s more important to you than fear?
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Want to be a perfect public speaker? I urge you to think again
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Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
Anais Nin.
Too many people live quiet lives. They stop themselves doing things: getting married because they are scared of the speeches or being the centre of attention, scared of the college course they really want to do because there are presentations to do.
We need to re-think fear. We need to get on living....
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The great fake off
When people say to me “I want to appear confident in front of an audience” a little alarm bell rings in my head.  I know it shouldn’t, because helping people be confident around public speaking is my job. It’s the phrase “appear confident” that worries me. It smacks of putting on a performance, trying to pretend that everything is ok.  It seems to say “If the “outside of me” looks relaxed to the audience then everything will be ok.”  But it’s a hollow wish. It’s a bit like wanting some magic makeup that makes you look cool, relaxed and powerful on the outside (if the makeup existed I’d make millions! And in the same way that a perfume can be called Poison this makeup would be called Shame)
I know there are slogans such as “fake it ‘til make you make it” that seem to give this approach credibility. However I think we need to take a step back. The word confidence comes from the Latin for complete trust. If we see it from a perspective of trust then self-confidence is all about trusting myself.
Can I trust myself that it’s ok for me:
1) to be looked at?
2) to be the centre of attention?
3) to take a pause and gather my thoughts?
4) to have a good eye contact with person I’m talking to
5) not to be perfect and that I can make mistakes
and, perhaps the biggest one
6) can I trust that its ok to be me?
Building that fundamental trust in yourself not only helps with public speaking it also helps you to take your place in the world.
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think about presentations differently
When we think about preparing presentations we might believe that the presentation has to cover everything and it has to be perfect. That’s way too much work and pressure for you and, frankly, overwhelming for the audience. So why not see a presentation simply as YOUR contribution to the debate rather than a complete tour? It’s your understanding of the subject. You could see it as a start of a conversation rather than the full answer. Your audience will be grateful.
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