Carl Mays: Gaining confidence through helping others

Jan. 11, 2013 @ 11:33 PM

A gentleman sent me an e-mail message in which he said his wife was transferred to a different department where she works. Her new position has evolved into some new and exciting challenges she greatly enjoys and in which she is performing well. It requires her to do some traveling to make presentations, mostly to senior management.

The husband told me his wife has an abundance of drive and energy, along with an infectious personality. He said one of her senior managers described her very positively as “a hummingbird on crack cocaine!” In other words, she gets excited about what she’s doing, gets with the program and gets things handled. The husband went on to say that with hard work and discipline, his wife has also completed college and graduated with honors.

The husband then advanced to the core of his message: “My wife and I were sitting on the couch last night, Christmas tree lights shining, listening to music. She said she knew what she wanted for Christmas – Self Confidence!”

The husband said his wife has received great reviews for her work; she studies and does a lot of practicing in order to perfect her high-energy, informative presentations. However, she still doubts her abilities. He wrote, “She is willing to put forth whatever effort necessary to reach the level of confidence she desires in her professional life. I am so proud of her. I support her and believe in her.” In closing his message to me, he asked, “Do you have any suggestions for helping her gain the self confidence she so strongly desires?”

It seems his wife is well on her way to building a tremendous amount of confidence! In “A Strategy For Winning,” I emphasize the importance of “energy” in making presentations or in whatever else you are doing. It is obvious his wife puts energy into her job. She also seems to be on track with some of the things I emphasize when referring to public speaking in my “Are We Communicating Yet?” book:

1) Prepare. This is a major key to being a good speaker. Be so knowledgeable of what you’re talking about that you can share the overflow rather than having to offer the dregs from the bottom of your cup.

2) Practice. If skilled people in all professions realize the value of practicing what they do, then why would someone think he or she could speak well without practice, practice, practice?

(3) Believe in what you say. It doesn’t take an audience very long to determine if you are just talking about something or if you are immersed in it. Combining knowledge with deep emotional belief will give you a power that knowledge alone can never supply.

It appears the primary thing that may be holding his wife back from taking that next step in building more self confidence is that she is making presentations primarily to senior management. My advice here is to be proud of who you are, what you are contributing and how you are progressing. This leads to a couple of other points I emphasize in public speaking:

4) Know your audience. What are their challenges? What are their wants and needs? How can you use your information specifically to help them meet and conquer the obstacles that face them?

5) Speak to your audience as friends gathered around you to hear a story. Establish eye contact. Find the ones who tend to hang on your every word. Cherish those who reflect your emotions. Take advantage of the energy and confidence they give you.

Keep in mind that there are participants in your audiences who are wanting to learn, to grow in their positions and gain more knowledge and self confidence in their own personal and professional lives. You are helping them acquire these desires!

© 2013 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his “A Strategy For Winning” book and program. Contact or view