As 2016 draws to a close, all I seem to be hearing is how terrible this year has been. While the endless negative comments usually contain a sort of subdued optimism (surely 2017 can’t be any worse?!), my fear is that the first sign of trouble in the new year will crush that fragile hope and the pall that has hung increasingly heavily over 2016 will be back in place.
I can’t help feeling this general consensus that everything is awful is in danger of becoming self-fulfilling. The power of the mind is lop-sided in this regard: although positive thinking is inherently good, it’s not sufficient in itself to ensure a positive outcome. Negative thinking, on the other hand, can be all it takes to turn any event pear-shaped.
One of the consequences of national negativity is that people tend to feel less in control of their destiny and more passive about their role in shaping it. From “The world is falling apart and I can’t do anything to stop it” it’s but a short step to “Anything I set out to achieve is doomed to failure, so there’s no point in even trying”. My message to you, on the cusp of 2017, is this: you have far more power than you may realise, to create a bright future for yourself and, yes, even to change the world!
This blog is about public speaking, so let’s focus on that. A negative attitude will sabotage any attempt to deliver a worthwhile speech or presentation, so let go of your preconceptions and hold on to the fact that anyone and everyone can be good at public speaking. A positive attitude will help you feel more confident about addressing an audience but this is not enough by itself. Telling yourself “It’ll be fine… it’s got to be…”, while taking no action, will sabotage your success just as surely as telling yourself it’s going to be a disaster. The way to succeed is by learning the techniques and applying them.
I don’t know who said it first but I’m a great believer in the idea the harder I work, the luckier I get. Contrary to popular opinion, effective public speakers are not lucky people who were born with the gift; they are people who’ve worked very hard at honing and polishing their content and delivery.
Gloom can be stultifying but we can dispel it by standing up and taking control of our lives. If public speaking is a worry for you, you can change that in a few hours, by confronting it and learning how to do it well. Losers tend to reckon things can’t be done, whereas winners know they can reach their goals because they take the necessary action to get them there. As we enter 2017, let’s remember, we are all capable of doing this.
Happy New Year!