You’re not always the best judge…

It’s worth remembering you’re not always the best judge of your own performance. 

Before the Easter hols, I achieved a goal I’d set for myself to practise public speaking. 

I was invited to speak at my coach, Paul Mort’s, event alongside four other speakers. 

Before the event, he gave me some tips on how he approaches public speaking. 

He regularly speaks to big audiences and I found his guidance really useful - things like not trying to “teach” your audience with facts, but to share stories to illustrate your points, and most importantly to practise like hell. 

I did my talk around my book, “How to Live with a Dickhead”. 

I had loads of fun putting it together, and did my best to make it entertaining. 

I put together a set of slides with pictures on them, as he suggested, to help aid my memory.

I practised for an hour a night in the couple of weeks leading up to the event, and felt pretty well prepared on the day. 

What I didn’t bank on was when the time came, I didn’t have “presenter view” of my slides - meaning I couldn’t see which slide was coming next, and I hadn’t realised until I started my talk how much I relied on that prompt to keep me on track. 

My hours of practice thankfully helped a lot, and I was able to remember most of what I wanted to say, but at various points I realised I had dropped out of my script, and my Inner Cow started jumping up and down, pointing her finger (or should that be hoof?) at me and calling me a twat.

It didn’t help that I’d been told the audience would be invited to vote for their favourite speaker at the end of the day, and having seen some great speakers before me (I was on last), Cow Face was having a field day. 

In fact, she’d convinced me every other talk was better than mine because the other speakers had the most amazing stories of personal difficulties they had overcome, they had put more effort into their slides than me, and I’d basically clowned about with a microphone in my hand, being shit. 

Can you imagine my complete surprise when I was voted favourite speaker of the day? 

I’m not sharing this to brag, (OK - maybe just a little..) but to say if I hadn’t received a vote of confidence that day, I’d have thought I’d been as popular as sick in a ball-pit. 

But, The Cow didn’t even shut up when I won the vote! 

She told me they only voted for me because of “recency effect”, and I wouldn’t have been remembered if my talk had been in the middle of the others. 

I really have to sit her on her arse sometimes and let me enjoy a moment of celebration!

The thing is, we’re often not the best judge of our own performance. Most of us are too hard on ourselves, especially when we try something new or challenging. 

Even after all my years of coaching training, I can still fall foul of The Cow and her negative thinking. 

(I’ve just realised calling her The Cow is an insult to cows. I like cows. She needs a new name…) 

That whole experience reminded me you shouldn’t rely on external validation, because there isn’t always the opportunity to be “voted” for, and even if people do express their opinion about you, they might not be using the same criteria you’d base your judgement on. 

You only have control over your own actions and thoughts, so if you find yourself being self critical, remind yourself you might not see the good others see.

The author 

Vicki LaBouchardiere