I read a recent article in Forbes Woman entitled, Taking Things Too Personally? The article written by Heidi Brown, talks about how stress makes people "touchy" and overly sensitive to criticism in the workplace. I started to think about my clients and how nervous they feel in front of an audience. I sometimes think we take things personally and give the audience too much power.
I often tell people "Get Over Yourself!" If you're focusing on your fear or sense of rejection, you're being self-centered. It's not just about you.
This summer I was invited to speak at a scientific conference about public speaking.
The audience consisted of scientists, researchers, physicians, health care providers, and a few performers. It was stated up front that there was very little research on the science of public speaking. I felt resistance in the audience who valued research studies and data. One man actually opened his laptop and started typing. At first I was concerned and thought he was checking emails. Then I told myself, maybe he's taking notes on my talk! :)
I was so confident in my subject that I knew I was offering value. It may not have been the message they wanted to hear but it was a message they needed to hear.
Too many technical experts read their research studies and clutter their slides with tiny print. They needed a new perspective and I was going to be the one to tell them.
During the Q&A; session I was challenged a couple of times. I smiled and said thank you. It's okay to be challenged. It's fine for people to disagree. There were also people who loved my talk and how I delivered it.
The questions to ask yourself are "Am I in integrity?" "Am I speaking my truth as I know it?" "Do I care about the audience?" "Am I open to different opinions and ideas?" "Do I believe in my message?"
A day later, the coordinator emailed me and told me about one of the presenters.
A physician had stopped in the middle of her presentation. She said, "Oh, I'm reading my slides. Diane DiResta said not to read the slides."
Something got through. The message landed. As speakers we may have an impact and never know about it.
So...realize that your audience comes with their own expectations, experiences, and filters through which they see the world. It's easy to be confident when everybody hangs on your every word.
The real test is to stand with confidence and not react to every response from the audience. In other words, don't take it personally.