Okay, this is light-hearted, but there's a serious point to make about our ability to be present with an audience.
Outside our kitchen window, there's a very large elm tree. Late every afternoon, around dusk, a blackbird sits in it and sings. No ordinary song - for at least 20 minutes this feathered diva does not repeat itself. We never hear the same musical phrase; not in tone, note or rythym. It clearly makes its melodies up, without pause, as it goes. It can't be a simple message like danger, or worm; anything like that is surely done with a single raucous chirp.
What's it doing? My wife and I have decided that our blackbird enjoys speaking in public and does not suffer from self-consciousness.
Sure, I'm reaching a long way for that one. So here's the serious bit. The hard truth.
However kind and understanding our audiences may be, if they detect self-consciousness, they see us as less credible. Just to be clear, the self-consciousness is itself the enemy, more than any mistakes we might make.
Why? Because when we're worried about ourselves we're sending a potent signal to our audience that our attention is actually not on them.
How to get over self-consciousness? That's what all these blogs are about. But for now, here's a super quick tip that works startlingly well for some people - it's emotional blackmail you apply to yourself. Ask, Who am I here for? Is it for me? Or is it for my audience?
The audience? Right answer.