My husband, Eric, and I went to see a one-man off-Broadway show a friend of ours was performing in. While we waited for the show to begin, a young woman seated herself next to me. She promptly introduced herself and told us she loved attending various performances. Our conversation was fun and light-hearted. She said before the first act began, "I knew you would be open to talking to me. You smiled at me as I approached and didn't turn your head when I sat down. I always worry that I'll be in a theatre full of people and not feel like I shared the experience with someone. So, thank you for taking the time to meet me."
It was interesting that she let me in on her thought process of whether to take a chance on talking to someone new. She watched my body language and determined speaking with me was a safe bet. I must admit that it took me a long time to get to where I was comfortable enough to be open to meeting people. I struggled with making eye contact, let alone smiling at a perfect stranger. Being so self-conscious was frustrating and annoying for me. Tapping into the confidence I had when I danced onstage and networking with prospective clients afterward helped me tremendously.
I advanced my understanding of communication when I went to college. I forced myself to be on the University's radio station and to learn voice-over techniques. It wasn't easy. I stayed up at night and raked myself over the coals of everything I said. ( I still do it to some extent, but I've learned to get over myself.) Over the years, I've realized I'm not alone in feeling self-doubt and worrying about how others perceive me. As I help people improve their presentation skills, I can relate to their anxiety. They're surprised when I easily break down the components of their fear of judgment. I share with them valuable tools on how they can succeed in communicating with confidence. The best part is the more I teach, the more I reinforce my own self-assurance.
Our body language speaks volumes before we say a word. It's important that we pay attention to how we are standing, sitting, and walking. Everyone around us feels our energy, and we can either sink everyone's ship, or we can lift it up. Before entering the room, I check to see how I'm feeling; Am I distracted by the day's events, am I tired, or am I not in the best mood? If it's any of the above, I take a moment and breathe. I stand up straight and put a smile on my face. In about two minutes, I feel refreshed and energized. I enter, knowing I'm not the one to suck the air out of the room.
These little tips and tricks make a difference in my life. It feels good to be able to approach people or have them approach me and not feel paralyzed. Making connections, even if it's just to kill time before the play begins, is a great use of our time.