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Why You Should Stop Reading Things About Change And Start To Change

Why You Should Stop Reading Things About Change And Start To Change
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Do you have your driver’s license? Do you know how to ride a bike? How about how to use a Smartphone? These must probably seem like silly examples, but bear with me a little. If you only study the theory side of driving a car, you wouldn’t be able to drive, right?  If you only read about learning how to ride, you would probably fall off the first few times you tried. If you read the manual on your new phone, you won’t suddenly be able to master all of its functions.

The same applies with change: you can read a million self-help books, which will give you advice, tools, motivation, and guidance, but unless you put the book down and apply what you learn, your efforts will remain fruitless. Have you ever wondered why there is a wealth of information out there, yet so many people struggle to apply it? Because that is the hardest part, change, and it happens when we stop reading and start doing.

Here are 5 reasons why you should stop reading things about change and start to change now.

1.  Activating the information

When it comes to change, reading alone will certainly not get you any new results; you need to activate what you have learned. You might read some great information that is really motivating, find some great tips, feel inspired, and then… you put the book down and what really changes? What are you doing differently?

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If you are reading a book about how to be more confident, for example, but you don’t apply any of the suggestions, what good is it? Will you become more confident? Unless certain information is applied, it remains useless.

2.  Change is habitual

When you want to change, you must understand that change is habitual. It is not about reading facts, memorizing them, and having a good understanding. I believe one of the reasons many individuals can easily read many books on change, but then struggle to change successfully is because of the resistance one feels when trying to change a habit.

Most change requires change some type of habit or way of doing something. However, your brain is actually predisposed to resisting change, so understandably, it isn’t going to be easy. You have a natural tendency to move away from change and anything that puts you out of your comfort zone, the new or the unknown. You need to do more than just read if you want to change what isn’t working.

3.  You will never know if it works until you try

Perhaps you have read some amazing techniques and tools that you would like to apply to your life. Imagine, you test a few techniques out, and to your surprise, they just really don’t resonate with you.

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This is normal; what works for someone else might not work for you, but you would never know unless you first tried. Change is about trial and error, and reading alone makes this impossible. Until you put the book down and try to change, you will never know.

4.  Change is ongoing

Change can be challenging for some and easier for others; however, change is certainly ongoing. It isn’t a once-off effort; you need to try, test, monitor, and test. Go through what is working and what isn’t working until you have successfully changed what you initially set out to do.

You can’t just make one attempt. Perhaps you need to make a few attempts, but either way, you can’t attempt anything if you are simply reading.

5.  Reading alone gives you a false sense of accomplishment and effort

Many individuals feel that if they are making the effort to read, study, and delve into hundreds of articles that will be enough to change. You might carry a false sense that if you are reading, you are making a change, and therefore, things will change.

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If you find you are always reading but you never take action and don’t know why, explore the possibility that you might be procrastinating because you resist change, even though you can see the benefits. Perhaps as you are resisting change, you spend a lot of time reading about it, but not taking a first step because you are not ready. Spend some time reflecting on this if this resonates with you.

MOVING FORWARD

Hopefully I have convinced you to stop reading and start doing. What’s next? Well, it certainly depends on what you are reading, but here are some general guidelines that should give you some targeted direction moving forward.

1. Get crystal clear on what you want to change/improve and why

What exactly do you want to change and why? How will your life be different if you make this change successfully?
First, start with making one change at a time and put all of your energy into reaching it. Secondly, get clear on the why. Change is never easy; you must expect to face some form of resistance, so you need to know exactly why you are doing what you are doing and use this to motivate yourself when you need it most. Give yourself a reward as well when you reach your objective.

2. Write down the ways in which things will be different

Change implies doing things differently, so what exactly will you be doing differently? You must be clear on not only what you want to improve, but what you need to do to make it happen. Write down what you usually do (how it is now) and then your ‘new’ way of doing (what will be different).

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3. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of success

If you want to boost your chances of real change, consider these 4 important questions:

  • What resources do you have to support you in reaching this objective?
  • What resources will you need that you don’t currently have?
  • What potential obstacles could come up?
  • What can you do to overcome them?

Monitor your progress, tweak what isn’t working, and build on your success until you make the change successfully.

What are you waiting for?  Stop reading things about change and start to change. This is the only way you are going to see different results; thinking alone will not cut it, so you need to take a step forward and make things happen.

You cannot expect to read alone and then experience different results, as this is not possible. Are you going to invest more time and money in reading or are you going to invest your time in activating what you know and getting better results? You always have a choice!

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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