Public Speaking

8 Steps to Tackle Impostor Syndrome as a Public Speaker 

8 Steps to Tackle Impostor Syndrome as a Public Speaker 

Do you suffer from major self-doubt when you fail to achieve a high goal? Do you try to work extra hard to measure up with your colleagues? Do you try to avoid challenges because you aren’t comfortable trying something you aren’t good at? Do you refrain from seeking help and prefer doing everything by yourself to prove your worth? 

These are symptoms of impostor syndrome that can plague people to varying degrees. 

Imagine standing up on stage and constantly feeling that you don’t belong there and that people will see through you very soon. 

The feeling can be quite exhausting and add to the general speaking anxieties or stage fright issues. 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to tackle impostor syndrome before it takes you off the track. Here’s how!

What is Impostor Syndrome and How Can it Feel During the Speech?

Impostor syndrome can come in many forms. In general, people feel that despite all their achievements, they aren’t good and competent enough. 

In presentations, it translates to a lack of focus on the speech as you are preoccupied with the fear that you don’t know what you are saying. And worst, people will figure that once they ask you a question.

What it can do to you is –

  • Drain you of confidence.
  • It can make glossophobia worse.
  • Compromise your speech.

Steps to Get Rid of Impostor Syndrome

The following steps will help you overcome the issue graciously and deliver your talk in the best way possible. 

1. Accept and Acknowledge

The first and most important step is to accept and acknowledge such feelings. Know that the syndrome isn’t rare; people get past it, and you can too. 

If the thought of inadequacy hits you while preparing the presentation – write it down. Keeping a record of such thoughts will help you become aware of your state and move to the next step.

Always remember brushing them away will only do you more harm than good. If left untackled, they will reappear later and might make you look incompetent on stage.

So, be conscious of every time you get such thoughts. Acknowledge them, and it will lead you to the following steps of overcoming the syndrome.

2. Discover Your Strengths

Once we have acknowledged the problem, the next step is finding the solutions. 

Impostor syndrome is the feeling of being inadequate and inauthentic. The best antidote you can have is finding your authentic style.

Some aspects of speaking you will be naturally good at, even if you are struggling with others and need to refine. For instance, you could be naturally conversational, good at explaining data, and more comfortable with visuals, or storytelling could be your forte. 

Find what makes you unique and work on your strengths. Your unique personal style will give you a solid foundation for battling the negative thoughts of impostor syndrome.

3. Try to Find the Learning Opportunity Behind

Try to find the substance in your impostor syndrome-based speaking anxieties. Review what you have written and carefully go through all the inhibitions. 

There will be a few things needing betterment and some plain confrontation. The accusations could be anything like – you are no authority on this topic, you can’t talk in front of so many people, etc.

Try to evaluate the accusations thoroughly. And, if you feel they are right – there lies your opportunity to make yourself better. With consistent practice, improve the specific parts you feel most vulnerable about.

Both ways, it will be a win-win situation for you.

4. Speak to People

Take other people’s help and get feedback regarding your talk. No matter how great your presentation went, make it a point to speak to people (colleagues, mentors, friends, family) you trust.  

Share how ineffective or fraudulent you felt before and during the speech. It will have the following benefits.

  • Getting it out will make you feel better.
  • You might be surprised by how many people suffer from the same issue, giving you the space to bond with them.
  • You can count on getting positive reinforcement. Impostor syndrome doesn’t mean you are unskilled or incompetent as a speaker – it could simply be your thoughts and feelings and not the reality. 

People can recount how many successful presentations you have given or how great an orator you are. This will help you find your ground again.

5. Become Part of a Practice Group

The scale and gravity differ for everyone, and sometimes, random instances of reinforcement and discussions aren’t enough. A support group can assist you by offering consistent discussions and feedback. 

Find an informal group of like-minded people who aspire to become better public speakers. The network can become an effective and reliable space to get good actionable feedback and offer support. 

Present to each other, share constructive criticism, and offer positive reinforcement – and you will not only become a better speaker but also be able to banish the inhibitions of impostor syndrome. 

6. Try a Role Play in Your Head

Take the role of your best friend in your head and share everything impostor syndrome imposes on you. 

How would they react to this negative talk? Let the inner voice speak their mind to these anxieties of yours. 

See how the dialogue goes, i.e., how your inner best friend counters every accusation. Notice the replies. They will give you the necessary answers and affirmations to break the negative self-talk cycle.

7. Rephrase Your Thoughts With a Power Word

Find a word like ‘yet’ or ‘but’ to complete all your sentences.

“You might not be the best person to speak on this subject,  but”

“You don’t have any experience in dealing with such a big crowd, yet”

Inculcate these powerful words in your talk to turn the limiting self-talk into limitless opportunities. Reframing your thought process like this will catapult you from the trajectory of lack of capability to potential for growth.

8. Build a Personal Feedback Loop

When you are doing something where the stakes are high – like speaking in front of a crowd – it helps a lot to keep your mind in a perpetual positive state.

One thing that can help is creating a positive feedback loop.

  • Before the Presentation

Tell yourself how you are ready. How many hours have you put in? How comfortable are you with your speech? Show yourself evidence to convince yourself of your preparation.

  • During the Presentation

Tell yourself that you are doing it now. Marvel in the realization that you’re achieving something once perceived as daunting.

  • After the Presentation 

Pat yourself that you did it. Revel in the accomplishment. Reflect on where you did well and the areas for improvement. 

Periodic check-ins like that will elevate your self-awareness and take notice of your growth trajectory. In case of self-doubt later, you can remind yourself of all your earlier big hits.

A Few More Tips 

  • Thoroughly prepare and practice to overcome these nagging thoughts.
  • Find your worth, and confidence will follow.
  • Take help from formal mentorship programs.
  • Try setting breakable, realistic, and manageable goals so your target doesn’t overwhelm you. 
  • Make a list of your talents and skills, and do positive affirmations.
  • Use your body language and power poses to trick your mind into feeling confident before your speeches.
  • Think of your failures as software bugs that need fixing. Try working on a new and better version each time with fewer bugs than before. 

Final Thoughts

The tips might seem challenging, but they are a sure-shot way to tackle the ill effects of impostor syndrome.

Use them for your next presentation, and with consistent efforts, you will be able to overcome these anxieties and shine as the orator you aspire to, and others perceive you to be. 

Leave a Response

ten + 11 =