– Kathy Bullock

The Voices in Our Head

Have you ever come across a piece of advice that seems weird at first, but as time passes, you find it meaningful and useful?

This for me, is the advice to speakers to keep a “success diary.” Write down the times that things went well. I used to connect a “success diary” to vainglory. No-one likes an arrogant boaster. How do you record your good talks without becoming the person who lords it over others?

Naysayers are all around us. Why are you doing that? We know you can’t do it that way. Mr X is already doing that, better than you ever could. Your efforts are not necessary, Ms Y has already done it. Like a ton of bricks, we are crushed before we even stand up.

One of the worst negative voices, chipping away at our self-esteem, is our own selves. From a whisper to a roar, we ask ourselves those same questions. You don’t know how to use humour in a speech, why even try it? You always smile awkwardly in the wrong place in your speech.

Remember that time you dropped your notes walking up to the podium?

Rehearsing all the times things went wrong, as we prepare a speech, can be suppressed in the writing and practicing phase. But as the hour draws near, the little unenthusiastic voice becomes destructive, a movie screen of disasters played on fast motion.

The Success Diary

Enter, the “success diary.” The Wonder Woman of enthusiasm, the Hulk of power, the Iron Man of mastery. The little voice rehearses the successes. Yes, there was that time you forgot where you were, and skipped a whole section, but remember that time you stayed on point and had the whole audience clapping loudly at the end? Yes, you did speak monotonously in front of the VP of Management, but remember that time you spoke to a small group of start-up CEOs who appreciated your business acumen.

We have to write down the good times because writing solidifies thought. The naysayer in your head is loud enough to drown out your little enthusiastic voice – the unarrogant voice of achievement. Consolidate your positive voice of experience in a success diary and empower that voice to have the upper hand as you approach the podium. The act of writing pins it in the memory and you can recall it with each step.

“Madame Chair, Fellow Toastmasters, Have you ever wondered why speakers are advised to keep a success diary?”