“Presentation lacked substance.”
That was written feedback I received after a presentation. The gut punch took my breath away. The other great sentiments only tip toed on the page. Their light and encouraging words hopped away to make room for utter devastation of my psyche. Of all the feedback I could get, this one is most hurtful!
The months of research, planning, and designing all for nothing with three simple words. I don’t understand how this could be, so I get angry. I’m mad there isn’t more information. I’m frustrated someone would write this about the presentation I put so much heart into. I’m irritated I can’t ask questions to understand. I’m curious if others felt the same. My brain replays the three-hour workshop on a loop. Yes, I could’ve done better. Yes, I’m not perfect. What I don’t understand is how the owner of these words wasn’t affected by any of the content, the delivery, or the experience. I had failed.
Those three words inspired me to write about one of the most dreaded fears in public speaking. The Fear of Criticism. It affects so many of us and sadly I’m not immune.
If I could pull the mask back on The Fear of Criticism, I believe we’d see a fear of not being worthy or not being enough. It’s in our nature to want to belong. It used to be a survival instinct. If we didn’t run in a tribe, we would succumb to the elements and die. Of course, now there’s Amazon, but we still have an innate need to belong.
The words cut deep because they confirm my fear of not belonging. Standing in front of an audience requires me to courageously open myself up, be vulnerable and show up authentically so they can truly see me. It’s the best way to approach the stage, my audience, and quite frankly – life. I don’t claim to be perfect and I definitely make mistakes. I know I can always do better. Every piece of criticism has the potential to hit me hard because I let my squishy center show. As a result, they’re not just criticizing my speech, they’re criticizing my being.
The overachiever in me kicks my inner critic in to high gear before and after a speech. I do not need criticism from others to do better. I do my very best each time I show up. That being said, I know I cannot rid the world of criticism, so I have learned to deal with it.
10 Ideas to overcome harsh criticism:
The fear of criticism can have us scrambling to fit in. When we take the stage; however, we are standing tall. The stage requires acceptance of self and others and that takes courage.
My sincere advice: STAND TALL in only the way you can. The world needs more you.