According to an article written by Aaron Gell in Marie Claire magazine—Hollywood actress, Jennifer Lawrence, has always been affected by what she perceives as the judgment of others. In high school, she never felt good enough or cool enough in relation to the rest of the kids, which caused a lot of stress that resulted in abdominal pains. And now that she’s a famous actress, and fodder for the tabloids and media, she is hyper conscious of how many millions of people are looking at her and potentially judging her, which stresses her out even more. This, despite the fact that she is a talented, capable sought-after actress who has won an Oscar and several Academy Award nominations for her work.
Like so many people—and women, especially–Ms. Lawrence admits to suffering from the need to be liked by others. The problem with looking for validation from outside ourselves, rather than looking inward to what I like to call our Inner Wisdom System, is that we hand our precious power away to someone else and wind up feeling feel insecure, needy and less than we actually are.
Those of us who have chosen to live a life that is in the public eye (actors, professional speakers, athletes, authors, etc.) understand that there are systems in place designed to tell us what our audience thinks of us and the work we are offering. This includes professional critics’ reviews of, let’s say, our speech, performance or
sporting event. It also includes the ubiquitous evaluations that audience members are asked to fill out, particularly after speeches, seminars and breakout sessions, where our performance is boiled down to a few numbers (“Rate between 1-10) or words (Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent). While these sorts of evaluations can be helpful, if taken with a grain of salt, they can also make us focus too heavily on what other people think. And when we focus on what other people think, we neglect our ability to healthily judge ourselves–which can pull us off center and make us anxious, stressed out and even afraid of taking further risks.
You can’t control what other people think, write or say about you and your performance. And no matter how brilliant you may be or how hard you try, you’ll never, ever please everybody in the audience.
Which is why I always suggest to my presentation coaching clients that they learn to look inward to self-evaluate after each presentation by answering the following set of Post Presentation Questions:
1. Did I solve my intention (or put another way, did I honor the specific purpose I gave myself, what I was there to do)?
2. What didn’t go as well as I expected? There’s always something to learn from what didn’t go as planned. This is how we grow and improve.
3. What went better than expected? All too often we focus on the negative, instead of what did go well. Celebrate what felt right and worked well!
4. What one thing can I work on for the next time? Think like an actor, or athlete and appreciate the chance to improve a specific aspect of your presentation skills; and remember, action trumps fear.
5. Did I do the best I could under the circumstances? Excellence is doing the best you can do, no matter what. Sometimes you knock your presentation out of the park; sometimes you don’t. If you’ve done the best you can do, you’ll feel good about your presentation even if parts of it were rocky, or evaluations from others weren’t as stellar as you might have hoped. Because doing the best you can is, after all, all you can do. When you’ve done the best you can, criticism from others won’t pull you off center as much, and you’ll feel more in control.
Learn to self-evaluate using the Post Presentation Questions. If you can answer a resounding “yes!” to questions number five and question number one; if you are willing to appreciate/acknowledge what went well; to learn from what didn’t go as well; and to continue to work on improving yourself for the next speaking event based on your own, good judgment, you will be less reliant on pleasing others, and more focused on pleasing yourself. Which will make for stronger, more effective presentations, and a centered, more confident you.Self-Evaluate wi