Silencing my ‘you suck’ self-talk

April 26, 2010

I brought three books with me for my flights to Atlanta and then to Australia. The first one I read was “Self-Promotion for Introverts.” I flipped the book over whenever I set it down (including when it sat on the front seat of my rental car) because I really dislike the “self-promotion” in the title and didn’t want anyone to see it. If I saw someone with it I’d look to see if they really had an L on their forehead – you know as in ‘LOSER.’

The presentation section I read in great detail and I think it was one of two reasons my talk went well.

I made more eye contact. I loosened up by silencing the “you suck” backchannel in my brain. And I did that with music and dance. Seriously.

Music always has a profound effect on my mood and when possible, I try to listen to something I like prior to speaking. My choices are usually rock/hard rock. Probably not the best choice for me because I don’t need to get going, I need to chillax (chill out + relax = chillax). That genre isn’t really conducive to dance unless head-banging is dance to you.

I’ve tried self-talk before. You know, like Alec Baldwin’s character Jack Donaghy psych-up speech on the TV show 30 Rock. (Just do it. Is it in you? I’m lovin it.) Humor helps sometimes. Not always. Normally I act more like the Tina Fey character in this snippet.

(Note: the following videos in this post are not safe for work if you work at a lame company)

Anyway, this time, I did something different with music and I have my lovely daughter to thank (her playlist on my iPod is literally “my lovely daughter.” She must have known that would draw a smile).

The iPod often appears in the bathroom so one day I decided to turn it on while I showered. My daughter’s favorite genres are quite different than my own. I picked one of her short playlists. Empire State of Mind and Watcha Say really made me feel good and I found myself dancing in the shower (apologies for THAT visual).

Anyway, I played Empire State of Mind prior to my presentation and just wanted to get up on that stage and grind it out. Who knew? The words don’t mean much to me (the JayZ part anyway is rap w/ ‘n’ bombs and stuff) but it did the trick.

Perhaps a fluke, but I think it also brought out my real voice and not the voice I think I should project when presenting. In my mind the delivery for a presentation for CLOs would be very corporate, tight-lipped, ultra professional and laced with buzz words.

That’s not me. I kind of think I look like that Michael Bolton character on Office Space when he’s rapping. Embarrassing. Oddly, not so with Slipknot in the minivan which is actually more lame. It’s messed up.

So, the attendees – mostly CLOs – seemed cool with stories about my kids, my use of PG-13 profanity, humor, etc. So they seemed to like my style but better yet, I was OK with my style and I actually felt comfortable on stage. Hope it’s not a fluke (says the self-talk).

Try NOT to dance in the shower with this one…I can’t.

  • Alan Levine

    A good talk ought to be a conversation with the audience, not a monologue nor a sermon. Said audience, who are actual people, are much more engaged with a conversational tone than the typical monotone slide reading zombies that are usually subjected to.

    Next time, play some of music *during* the talk 😉

    A gimmick I use is to create a repeating slideshow of images with energetic music that can play before I start; I use screen shots of sites I may talk about or just evocative (cc licensed) images… its super easy in iPhoto; I've also assembled an iTunes playlist of some web 2 videos. It gives people something to do beside fidget if they are there too early or dont know anyone to chat with (plus you get to listen to your psyche-up tunes right before the show starts).

  • jclarey

    I love that! Definitely will do that.

  • Nancy Ancowitz

    Hi Janet. Thank you for your delightful insights about my book. I appreciated your fun quips and riffs and enjoyed the videos! That was a really creative approach.

  • Ingrid M.

    Being real is a huge part of your appeal, Janet! Whatever strategy you used, it's cool you were yourself. I care less about how people might react than I used to. It's very liberating, being Me. Filter-free. (Admittedly, still striving!)

  • enerhax

    self-promotion is great! sounds like a catholic upbringing or general cultural morays that make you feel that self-promotion is bad. i guess we tend to think of that as meaning people trying to sell you something you don't want

    how else can you make the world better if you won't shout out what your dreams are? *goes to check door – i know someone will magically realise i am so incredible and come knocking*

    and if your message/service/product/solution/paradigm shift/challenge/answer is indeed one that makes a difference, it only makes a difference if allowed to make a difference

    how can that ever happen? by staying quiet? luckily, in our info overload world, we are able to share our ideas and message more easily. sure, we may need to compete with acai berries or the trump network, but if it's a good idea or message, it gets out there – but you do have to put it out there – and that's all self-promotion is =)

  • @TechHerding (Dick Carlson)

    For several years now, I've had a folder on my desktop (of the laptop I'm using for presenting) named “ShowTunes”. (No, it doesn't have the score to Oklahoma or Le Miz.)

    It's a collection of music that I use before, during, and after speaking. Some have videos (stolen off of YouTube), some are audio only. Some are hilarious, some are spoken word, some are classical, some classic rock, some very current pop.

    If I give the group an assignment, I put up a three-minute as background music while they work rather than a timer. I usually have a couple of “Camtasia” type learning montages that I play with BTO or Queen in the background.

    I play a series of music linked to PPT slides before the presentation, to build up slowly. Then some exit music when they leave.

    I keep the folder because many times I'm making choices on the fly, depending on the mood of the room and where we are in the content. And it really works — sometimes I even ask participants to text/twitter/email me requests, or let them pick if they win a contest.

    What I'm Playing

  • @TechHerding (Dick Carlson)

    Oopsie. Just added another, if you need 1:29 of fun:

    Star Trek Meets Monty Python

  • jclarey

    Love it!

  • jclarey

    Did you ever watch the movie Drumline? It wasn't a great movie. Just OK. I just liked watching the bands play. Anyways…in the movie, a white kid (the band is mostly black kids) wants to challenge another drummer for his seat. He plays the bass drum without passion. He is schooled by the movie's star on how to play it like he's making love. That's what I'm reading here with your comment and Alan's. You approach speaking and training with passion fueled by music.

  • jclarey

    putting it out there. yup.

  • jclarey

    thanks Ingrid!

  • David Webb

    You need to think one day at a time and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow, then your self talk can’t get the better of you.


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