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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breaking down barriers

Last week I addressed an audience I thought would be out of my range on a topic I have prepared and presented before. I had the sense this particular audience was more informed in the topic than my previous one and had concerns about my content being meaty enough.

I worked and worked and re-worked the presentation, spending much more time on it than I have on recent well-paid presentations. At length, I decided to involve them more than I had my previous audiences. That afternoon, I addressed them simply and involved them often. Still, I was preparing to hit the wall.

Dale Carnegie said if we're to effectively communicate, we must "crash through our shell of self-consciousness." In my words, break down our barriers. Yes, it is the speaker who understands the concept of breaking down those mental anxieties of standing up in front of a group, of sharing their cherished ideas, of exposing their lessons learned and seeking to connect with strangers.

It isn't just the introvert who has difficulty with barriers. The extroverts may be quite social yet resist presenting to audiences. They may jump at the chance to address a group in a meeting but struggle with the one-to-one engagement. In the meantime, the introvert struggles with putting the chatty conversation they are repeatedly in - in their head - out into the open.

We cannot break down barriers unless we first crash into them. And having done so, we realize the barrier was harder in our head than in reality.

After I finished last week's presentation, one of the attendees shared with me, "I believe in Divine intervention. And you, I believe, were divinely sent." What affirming words, well-beyond what I had imagined!

The world welcomes those who break down their own barriers. How are you being called to stand up and speak? Speaking with courage means simply, relaxing into the moment and speaking of those things that are meaningful to you. You can do so, much more readily than you may imagine.

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