A self-fulfilling prophecy
“I’m not good a public speaking.” Have you ever said those words? Maybe you were asked to make a toast at your brother’s wedding. Or perhaps someone asked you to present your company’s newest, hottest product to a potential client. And in comes your inner saboteur, whispering in your ear that you’re no good, that you might just ruin the moment, and that it’s best to cower and hide under the staircase.
Saying that you’re no good at public speaking is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of the oldests examples of self-fulfilling prophecies comes from ancient Greece in form of Oedipus’ story. After the Oracle of Apollo foretold that his son would murder him, Laius, King of Thebes, abandoned his son Oedipus. By a series of incidents the royal family of Corynth (Polybus and Merope) ended up raising Oedipus as their own.
Years later, Oedipus heard about the original prophecy, and he fled Corynth in order to avoid murdering Polybus, believing he was his biological father. On his journey, he met a stranger and killed him – and that stranger turned out to be Laius, his actual father.
The prophecy had been fulfilled.
There are no naturals
When you refuse to speak on the basis of “not being good at it”, you’re condemning yourself to the same fate as Laius and Oedipus did. By not facing your fear, you’re not practising. And the only way to get good at public speaking is by practising and doing it a lot.
As we saw, it’s normal to be scared.
But know that there is no such thing as “being a natural”. Some people may feel more comfortable onstage than others, it’s true – but they also need to clock in the stage hours, with sweat and tears. Everyone must practise. We all have to learn, to watch others, and to try it. It’s like running: you may complain that you’re no good at it, but if you go out for a run three days a week, you’ll see results in time. And you’ll get better.
Don’t expect immediate results, because it’s not easy. But you will improve. And with time, that “I’m not good at public speaking” will turn into “sure, I’ll do it”.
What can you do?
“Ok, Julia. But what exactly can I do to get better?”
But the best thing you can do it get out there and practise. Your audience will be the best teacher. See how they react. See if they get bored. Know that they won’t be judging you. Feel their energy and good will. Here are some places you can go to practise:
- Join your local Toastmasters group (if you’re in Barcelona, there’s over 15 in the city!);
- Join your local Agora Speakers group (they’re small and just starting, but the people are great);
- Go to events like Ignite, which are all over the world (here’s Ignite Barcelona);
- Go to networking events with open mics so you can pitch your ideas and get some stage experience;
Are you ready to get out there, face your fear, and stop worrying about your self-fulfilling prophecy? I know you can. Because I did it, too.