Confidence in communications

Wedge gets on stage and delivers a cracking, or a crap, talk.

When I’m tired, I trust myself less. I’m more prone to make mistakes, and my self-checking, my ability to catch my mistakes, is a lot poorer. When I’m well slept and able to focus, I trust myself and my work a great deal more.

Obviously, to communicate effectively and in order to craft great written work, I need to be on a decent level and I’m very much affected by my moods. How about you? How do you cope with the vagaries of life while remaining professional and focused? Does your personal life impact your working day, or do you separate your life into compartments, and segregate your emotional world?

Me? Well, I’m working to be a ‘whole person’; I want to enjoy every day of my life whether I’m in the office, on a beach or at home. There’s plenty of segregation in my life (different groups of friends, different web-friends, etcetera) but I at least want to be a singular person myself. My play is work and my work is play. I’m a writer for the most part, after all.

From the page to the presentation

Last Monday, I spoke at a small conference. On stage, wired for sound, talking to the audience, my Keynote presentation playing to my right. I’d slept badly all week and the journey to the conference was something like four hours or so. I wasn’t nervous enough before I went on, I was flat-lining a little. After talking to people and networking all morning, I was a little emotionally bankrupt already. How much can any one person give to others?

On stage, for my 75 minutes, I felt quite exposed, and had little sense as to if I was coherent. During the applause, I quickly left the stage and took my seat, safe on the front row.

I was immediately angry with myself. Why hadn’t I done the werewolf story? Why hadn’t I done the drowning example? Why hadn’t I gone into more detail about the tools and techniques we offer on our website? I wondered if it was because I had done this presentation before (and bloody well) in May. Perhaps I was bored, perhaps I was slipping. I didn’t emotionally connect to my subject matter, so why should my audience.

Several people assured me that my talk was brilliant, and that ‘everyone was saying good things about it / me’ but I felt pretty hollow. Had I just cheated all these delegates?

I’ve written up the official conference report over on the FirstSigns blog, but it would be rude for me to express myself so much over there; indulgent even.

You might wonder if perhaps, as a writer and internal communicator, I was nervous to step out of my usual arena and engage with external people verbally. But actually I’m a capable speaker, and have no fear of crowds. While I might dread being an impromptu centre of attention (please, never raise a toast to me at a dinner party) I’m quite comfortable ‘performing’ for people if the stage is all prepared for me.

Anyway, the feedback forms came back pretty quickly, and glancing at the numbers, I saw that my delivery and content was rated higher than both the conference organiser’s, and the guest professor’s who we were very fortunate to have attend and speak.

My name is Wedge, I don’t have any letters after my name (I don’t really even have a surname) and I’m just a kid in jeans and trainers. I do the thing I do and I have to be confident that I’m ‘alright’ as I’m well aware that not everyone appreciates what I ‘do‘ exactly. I can’t kill myself over negative feedback, and so nor can I celebrate positive feedback (lots of comments on this article!). That might sound quite dull and cold to you, and I might understand why.

Confidence in communications

I have to have confidence in my communications, however I present them. It’s rare for communications to ‘touch’ 100% of the audience in just the way you wanted. There are always some people who react badly, and you can’t kill yourself over such things. What you can do is accept feedback, value everyone’s input, and learn from every experience – but that doesn’t mean you have to change your stance. We cannot please all of the people…

To have confidence in what I do, I have to aim for self-set goals; I have to live by my rules in order to know whether I’ve done a good job or not. Call me sociopathic, but while I’m pleased everybody appreciated by talk, I failed to connect to my subject myself, and so I did not give 100%; so I have failed myself on this occasion.

There are other times in my work when lots of people tell me that what I’ve written shouldn’t have been said, and they criticise me for my tone, or for publishing anything at all. Again, I have to reach my standards, and I can feel good about good communications even when the feedback tells me I have to learn more.

1 comment
  1. Oh, this relates perfectly to yesterday’s post about perfectionism. ;-)

    I often feel what you describe: that I haven’t given 100% or that after something is done I notice I could have said more, explained more, done more…

    And then you realise that your audience or client is already overwhelmed by what you thought wasn’t enough. And that probably they wouldn’t have been able to digest more input anyway.

    THAT’s perfectionism at it’s best! ;-) and it’s perfectly (!) okay like that!

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