Lisa Wentz wants you to put your best foot forward – and she knows how to help you do just that. She’s an author and speaker. Her book, Grace Under Pressure: A Masterclass in Public Speaking isn’t just about learning to command a room – it’s also about learning to command yourself. It’s about learning to master your past, your stories, and anything and everything hold you back.
She’s spent her career freeing people from the things that hold them back, and she talked to us at The Mission Daily about some of the ways people can push past their setbacks and use public speaking to go after the life they really want.
Figure out what’s really stopping you. A lot of people approach Lisa for her help thinking she’s just going to give them some tricks, but her process is a lot more involved than that. Lisa knows that every surface-level roadblock has a deeper cause, and she’s all about finding and getting rid of the root problem. “There are times where, more often than I think most people would guess, people walking into my office with very big obstacles that they’ve held onto for a long time that have created a lot of anxiety for them, and that could be anyone from a manager, a VP, executive, C level, non-profit speakers, many people will have some negative influences at some point in their life, and that increases their stage fright or anxiety. Yes, I can teach them voice and speech techniques, I can help them build breath capacity and enrich their voice and articulation, and all the physical aspects of voice and speech training, that applies to everybody. If something is triggering you, you can prepare all you want, if that anxiety, whatever is provoking the anxiety, comes into the room, it’s going to override everything else, oftentimes. So, if somebody walks into the room and they say something like, ‘I have a debilitating inner critic.’ It’s about exploring whatever the client feels comfortable exploring.”
Practice. When it comes to articulating yourself, practice does make perfect. But don’t just run into the next Toast Masters meeting and grab the mic. Start small. “I think if there’s a particular thing that’s bothering you, kind of bugging you each time you go to speak, or even throughout life, journaling is a great way to do it. I would say take the journal a step further and get it out verbally. You can record yourself, or you can tell a trusted friend what’s going on internally and, “These are the thoughts that come up when I go to speak at the podium.” Or whatever it is. That will help get it out of the subconscious more into the conscious fear where you can start to just let go of it.
Don’t let your inner critic stop you. We all have one – a voice that tells us we’re not good enough. The trick is to not let it run the show. “There’s an exercise in the book about removing the inner critic. I put two in there that relate to the inner critic. One of them is called a conversation where you sort of compartmentalize the major parts of your personality. So maybe you look at your main personality like, right now I’m front Lisa, or adult Lisa, and I make decisions from a certain place. Then I have a part of myself that’s the more creative side that still paints and draws and does things in solitude. And then I could go on, and on, and list different sides of who I am, you know? We’re not one-dimensional creatures, most of us are very complicated. I need to take that step back and really think about what this side of my personality wants. What does this side of my personality want? And have either a conversation with yourself, or write it out, and decide the validity of those desires, and whether or not you can make good compromises between the sides, the one side that says, ‘No, I really do need to work seventy hours a week, and make this much money because I have to do this for my career.’ But there’s another side that’s saying, ‘I need to get physical exercise, I need to clear my head, I need to do something creative.’ And then bargain between the personalities. Ask for time to make sure that you’re giving each part of yourself, who you are, some time and some fulfillment. And you’re more likely, in my experience, to make much better decisions when you do that. Steve Jobs – the king of commencement speeches – talks about how he was interested in calligraphy, and he was interested in art and whatnot in college. He would sit in on classes, and that obviously ended up influencing him. And had he never given himself that time to do that, would he have been as successful? Probably not.”
Take care of yourself, even in the sprints. “We’re mental, physical creatures, humans are. So when we have mental tension, it will translate physically, and vice versa. So I think that’s an important step for people who are feeling a little bit overworked and whatnot. And you know, some of my clients will say things like, “I just have to get through this one push this month.” Or, “I just have to get through this product launch.” Or, “I just have to, you know, to wait until my IPO is over, and then I can take a vacation.” You can still find little ways to take care of yourself, even if you are in a very literal tough time.”
To hear more from Lisa, check out the full podcast here.