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Lesson 5 – How to think

Lesson 5 – How to think

It is something that never ceases to amaze or impress that the mind can change the results you get. If you think about this for a moment, this means that you can have the best plan, the best teacher, the best product, the best actions and STILL damage your results if you are thinking the wrong thing.

If you want to know what that looks like in a speaking engagement the next time you are in a situation where you are not the only person to speak, watch the moment you see that person’s thought’s have stopped working for them.

It looks like this; The person stands up, smiles, makes eye contact, shoulders are back, they are stood comfortably, they start speaking, suddenly there is a pause, they do not allow the pause to pass (we will look at the power of pauses and why not to fear them) and suddenly their eyes drop, maybe to a piece of paper, or their hands. Maybe to someone they trust, and their eyes implore “HELP!” I’ve forgotten what I was going to say! The point is, their words are far less important at that moment in time than what is happening in their head.

Let’s play out the two polar extremes of this person’s public speaking hell.

Negative result;

They start speaking again, they can’t remember what they were going to say, all they can hear in their heads is “**** Oh no I’ve forgotten what I was saying, I knew I’d fail at this, I knew I couldn’t do this, what was I thinking!” their minds do exactly as they ask them to and the mind fills their head with a ton of thoughts, none of which are remotely related to the words they were hoping to say. They fumble through some sentences that sound nothing like they rehearsed, they don’t know when to stop talking, they start to fidget, the audience feels their nervousness that then bounces between speaker and audience like an uncomfortable slimy tennis ball, until fear overloads and either the host motions politely for them to take their seat, someone plays with their phone or they slump back in their chair in abject horror, reinforcing the message they gave themselves at that moment of freeze of “What was I thinking!”

Positive result;

They remind themselves that they can do this, they’ve rehearsed many times and they know they want to do well and ultimately, they can do this. They are reminded of the practice that they have put in and the purpose of speaking today and they pause, and breathe. They smile at their audience remembering that they are there because they’ve something valubable to say and it could result in what they want. They don’t necessarily say what they had rehearsed but their mind reminds them that they have a purpose and that they are speaking with passion and for good reasons and some of the right words come out. They remember their training, don’t panic about what they forgot (only they knew what they were going to say) and sit down with a smile, thinking “I did it, I’ve got things I can do to improve and every time I do this it will get easier, I will get better and I will get more of the results I want!”

Okay so I don’t know exactly what goes on in someone’s head at that moment of abject terror that they’ve forgotten what they were saying, however I can second guess (pretty accurately) that what is happening in your head impacts on your results.

Therefore once you have your purpose for speaking you need to think about what you think. Not just now as you read this;

  • Before you speak
  • While you speak
  • After you speak

WORTH NOTING This is such a powerful tool to incorporate into your personal and professional success. Really appreciate what you think and the quality of your self talk. There is nothing wrong with berating your performance or questioning the results you get as long as it moves you forward. It is a hindrance if it then impacts on future results.

Over the next few lessons we are going to look at you as an individual to enable you to be a more powerful presenter, and if you think about this logically, it can have a powerful knock on effect to every aspect of your life. (I love things like that!)


  1. Check your diary for your next opportunity to speak. It may only be adding your opinion at a team meeting, a 60 seconds elevator pitch or hosting an online teleconference. In the details above that event (whether you prefer a paper diary or an electronic diary) make a note that says “Ensure I listen out for what my mind says before, during and after this opportunity.”
  2. Write down the words you found that were hanging around in your head. Be honest. If you found you thought nothing or about what you were going to have for lunch that is still relevant too as you will learn by the end of this lesson.
  3. By each word you found yourself thinking write accordingly;

A tick next to       –              Positive words, actions, thoughts, emotions.

A cross next to    –               Negative words, thoughts, actions emotions.

What does your thoughts look like?

Do you have more X’s than ticks? Is it about equal or are you already benefiting from more ticks than crosses to help your mind stay positive?

If you think back to our example, you are far more likely to be like that person if you don’t choose to be in charge of what you think.

I want you to create a list of the words, thoughts, beliefs and emotions that you would find yourself ideally having.

I appreciate that this is not easy to do so I will share my own personal feelings (before, during and after) on how I feel when I present. I use the same process with clients to enable them to see the different ways we can think when we are about to perform. At the end of the 3 segments (before, during and after) there is an action for you to consider your own thoughts.

BEFORE; “I feel nervous (Yes I feel nervous, I’ve been a professional speaker for nearly 10 years and I still feel nervous, however I feel the right level of nerves and I will explain more before the end of this lesson.) I’m excited. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge, empowering people to achieve more and I’m honoured to be helping lots of people instead of just one person as I do in a coaching session.”

Notice the way I hear my thoughts? The positive tonality? The impact I feel I will create in others? (At this stage I’ve no way of knowing that I can create this do I? I’m reliant on my belief in myself, my skills, my talent as a speaker, my experience as a speaker and coach and my abilities.)

ACTION; What do you need to remember about your skills, experience, knowledge and ability?

How have you helped people before (even on a 1 2 1 basis?)

DURING; A side effect of my illness (Lupus) and some of my meds is they can cause extreme brain fog, as a result sometimes I can’t remember what I was saying or even the meaning of a word. (It’s funny for the kids to stand there saying put it in that thing, waving profusely, but not ideal on a stage in front of hundreds!) To date this has never been a problem, despite the fact that the words I want to use have gone, why? Because I remember what I was thinking before the speaking engagement and during I remind myself of this; “I know I will enable my audience to think in a new way, I know I will share genuine ideas that change lives, I care deeply about every single person here and will do my best for them. I know I’ve done it before on many occasions and I remind myself of this evidence as I stand here now.”

ACTION; What impact have had on people around this subject that was positive?

How would you love to make your audience feel today?

What would you like to be remembered for today?

How do you want to feel?

AFTER; It can be tricky to be accurate and meticulous after a speaking engagement. Especially if elements went really well and you want to just concentrate on those moments, instead of the moment you dropped your notes, or said the wrong word. However thinking the right thing is important not just for that engagement, but future ones too. Personally I think “Wow I packed so much in to that session. I must remind myself to not feel the buzz and the flow of Adrenalin and concentrate on giving maximum benefit to everyone that wishes to speak to me afterwards. I will ensure I’m on their agenda and mindful of my own CTA (Call to action.)

ACTION; Do I feel my audience got what I said they would and what they want out of my talk?

What would I choose to do differently next time?

(We will look at the many components to a successful public speaking engagement through out this course to help you think of all aspects. At this stage what is your view?)


A word of caution for this homework, don’t just read this and decide you will think on it. Actually take the time to write the answers to these questions.

Become aware of the quality of your thoughts. How they impact on you. How with a more positive mindset you get different results.

Investigate things that make you feel more positive. (Personally I ensure I don’t listen to the news or the radio as I drive to a speaking engagement. There is always a track ready in my car that make me sing and feel like I can do anything. Usually one that has been playing loud with the kids in the back as we head off on holiday. That kind of music is replaying all the good stuff that is stored in my brain.)

What music does that for you?

What proof do you have that you can think positively? What can you do to get your mind back to this positive form of thinking fast?

What beliefs do you have around public speaking and your ability?

Do you feel the way you phrase things in your head is inspiring you into action or holding you back?

This lesson is essential to really understand so that as we learn tangible skills you can ensure your mindset is set up to help you succeed too otherwise it will alter your results..

Recap; Be mindful of what you choose to think. What do you feel are your biggest takeaways from this lesson?

ACTION; And lastly as promised, don’t fear a little bit of nervousness. A little bit of nerves is good for you. However be mindful of how nervous you feel. If you were to gauge your nerves on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being petrified, get me out of here! and 1 being I’m aware I feel nervous but it’s not impacting on me) where would you be?

For me there is always a little bit of nerves. As I talk in detail in my book “Fight the fear” stage fright is one thing but being nervous before a performance is good. See it this way “It is not stage fright, it is performance energy. You are about to do something different to a normal conversation and you want it to go well and this energy will enable me to do this.”

  • August 21, 2018