When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver
On most public speaking courses I run, there is a magic time where a shift in the group happens. The speakers stop trying to try. They stop trying to get it all right or stop trying to hide and allow themselves to be seen. They start to allow that its OK to be there.
As an audience we are drawn to people who are comfortable being themselves. Revealing some of who they really are. Taking the risk to say “this is important” or “you may not agree with what I’m saying but it's important to me. Seeing it as a conversation rather than a performance. Comfortable with silence. Be at ease with the odd mistake.
Some people are surprised by this shift. They feel that public speaking is about being perfect and there is a “right” way to do it, not being messy, having wonderfully crafted prose to speak, not “umming or “erring”. In short not making a mistake. However, the audience needs to be able to trust the speaker. If you as the speaker are too slick and too polished, the audience are probably not going to trust you and let you in. When we are in the audience we are drawn to passion not perfection, authenticity not prose. That’s what engages us.
The chase for perfection is really the wrong game. But on every course I have there will be a perfectionist or three struggling with all the risks being the centre of attention entails. Perfectionism is tough master. So let authenticity drive you, self-compassion ride shotgun and the courage to be imperfect be your backseat driver. That will make for a much happier journey.