Before Mary Cheyne went onto become the 2009 World Champion of Public Speaking, she was a shy computer programmer who hid behind her computer because she was too self-conscious. Many of you might feel the same or have felt that way at one point or another. When Mary started to realize that she wasn’t being true to herself and that there was so much within her to express, she started on her public speaking journey. She decided to work on her public speaking skills so that she could articulate herself in public without feeling self-conscious. This journey revealed to Mary the power of what she embodied and the importance of our presence in every conversation. We don’t know always know what people will take away from how we show up in the world. The secret is to simply be yourself when you’re speaking instead of being somone you assume the world wants to hear.
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Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking with Mary Cheyne
I feel very lucky and blessed as always to be here with you. In fact, it’s just one of the most important things I can think of to remind myself of and to remind all of you of. I hope you appreciate this. My hope is that you use what we’re talking about in these podcasts, more than anything, that it’s interesting, that it’s a value to you, and most importantly that it’s something that you actually use in your life. I always begin the same way. I begin every day and during the day I remind myself frequently of how grateful I truly am to be breathing, that my eyes are working. I wish I could see better. I won’t lie, my eyes aren’t quite as great as they used to be, but I still see well and I’m happy that I can correct my vision with a simple lens glasses or contact lenses, such a simple solve to that. My ears and my body, the physical things are working.
I’m grateful for my spiritual connection, so grateful for how it is that I’ve experienced the presence of spirit in my life. I would say God, maybe you all have a different word for it. I honor all of those things. If there’s no word that you described, source or our creator or you don’t have any belief around that at all, that’s beautiful as well. I just know for me personally, I’ve experienced some pretty significant changes in my life, my physical life, my mental life, my emotional life as a result of being present, being in prayer. I’ve experienced miracles I’d say in that space and they’re beautiful. Those miracles start often in such a simple way for me. Giving gratitude, being in a state of appreciation for my life, for my family, for the world, for all of you, for people I’ve never met before and they never in my life meet, but yet knowing that as I’m taking this breath now, that everywhere in the world, whether it’s in Singapore or it’s in Sri Lanka or it’s in London or it’s in Topeka, Kansas, or it’s some outer territories in Canada, northern Canada, it doesn’t matter where we are in the world as we’re taking this breath. We are all taking a breath together. That is beautiful that we are one.
I don’t want to get too woo-woo here, but it is such a significant truth to me that we are one and that our breath, as we collectively breathe together now, we can experience oneness. We can experience connection and community with people that we’ve never met before and that we may never meet yet in our lives. I’m grateful for all of that, for the seen and for the unseen. I’m also grateful for the time that I get to spend doing this beautiful work and to be with you now. Maybe at work, maybe in the car, maybe walking, running, doing some other great thing. This is a blessing to be in your life and to have you in my life.
I’m also blessed to have a guest on the podcast who’s just this wonderful lady, beautiful woman physically outside, inside, just a beautiful being. Her name is Mary Cheyne. She’s somebody that I’ve known for many, many years actually, which is cool how our paths have crossed and crossed again. I have her as a guest on the podcast to speak about her pivots, her transitions, the work that she’s doing in the world, what she’s passionate about, including her family. These are wonderful things that I’m looking forward to sharing more with you. Despite starting out as a shy computer programmer who hid behind her computer because she was too self-conscious, I can imagine, any of you might feel the same or it felt the same, before Mary went onto become the 2009 World Champion Of Public Speaking, the Second Place winner out of 25,000 contestants from fourteen countries. She is the president of her own training and communications company. She has trained more than 15,000 people in 25 cities around the world.
She also taught public speaking in communications related classes at Northeastern University for seven years and is the author of the Amazon bestselling book, Present Yourself in Public Speaking: Tell Your Inner Critic to SHUT UP! And the Real You to SPEAK UP!. During her fifteen years of training, speaking, and coaching experience, Mary has learned one important thing, to communicate and persuade effectively. The first person you need to convince is yourself. I love this book. It’s wonderful and I’m not just saying that because I’m featured three times in the book, and that’s my ego speaking. It’s a beautiful book. I love the cover. I love the topic and mostly I love you, Mary. Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Adam. It’s such an honor for me to be here and to be able to speak to the people that listen to your podcast, me included. I listen to your podcast religiously and have picked up multiple insights that I use on a regular basis just from the guests that are on your show. To be on your show is an amazing humbling feeling and I’m looking forward to speaking with you.
We were commenting on what’s written on my shirt. Mary, what were you saying about it?
I think it’s a great way of putting a particular focus on people’s minds. As soon as I saw that resilience, it’s something that it uplifts me and empowers me. Immediately I thought of yes, the way how I have been resilient and in my life and in the places that I need resilience. It’s a quick billboard version of speaking with you to be able to get that into that mindset. The reason I mentioned it was because the way we show up in the world, we just don’t know what people are going to take away from it. Having something written positive on your shirt is definitely one great way of starting off the conversation.
It’s a public service announcement or PSA is what it’s called. I am open for advertising. If you want to advertise something on my chest, just send up. That’s probably scary and dangerous at the same time, but yes. For some time now, we’ve been putting statements on T-shirts and have enjoyed that. In fact, when we began to convey this message out about loving our lives, one of the most important things to Randi and myself and to our team is that we help people to create peace for themselves. In fact, when I was running Peak Potentials years ago, I had a download vision, which was a pretty amazing experience at the time. I remember I was in Canada and I always have these incredible experiences in Canada. I was driving in this beautiful area of Squamish, British Columbia. In the car had this rush of emotion come over me.
I was heading out to one of the rotations where we had our students that are in retreat and they were doing some pretty wild things on a particular day. I was heading over there to check on them and I just had this rush of emotion come over me and I began crying, and not little tears. They were waterworks. These massive amounts of fluid that was draining out of my eyes and I couldn’t stop it. Then I heard something and I actually physically hear it. It was just words that it became a sound in my awareness and those words were create peace, peace through self-actualization. That was the exact phraseology that came through, was peace through self-actualization. I remember two days later I stood on stage and we had maybe about 300 people in this camp and I shared with them what that experience was for me. That I was so overcome with emotion. The tears were constant for ten or fifteen minutes.
The residue of that experience was peace, that our programs and the workshops and the things that we were doing would help people to create peace for themselves. Their peace, their all individual peace, their inner peace, would contribute to peace in our world. Ultimately enough people working at that level, enough people that were focused and interested and invested in creating their own personal peace, that we would hit a tipping point and at that tipping point our world would be more peaceful than not peaceful. That might be the definition of world peace, I don’t know, but we created a foundation. We still have that foundation and I have a Facebook page and a beautiful community there as well. That’s been a driving focus for us.
At that point we started putting things on T-shirts and the first thing that we put on a T-shirt was, “I love my life.” The word love, some people know this and I think a lot of people don’t. The word love, I wrote it out on a piece of paper, so the love that’s in those T-shirts and on those T-shirts is from my heart in my hand and we imprinted it there. It became an interesting thing that the things that we put close to our heart, the words that we wear close to our heart, and the intentions that we hold so dear to our heart have a powerful impact on us. It’s very much like cheap energy. Mary, I don’t want to make any assumptions. Mary is of Asian descent. She has a word that I think means energy and many people have spoken and written and taught about the importance of energy moving in our bodies where energy gets stuck in our bodies. We have blockages. We have disease, we have hardening of the arteries and clogs and heart attacks and all kinds of things when the energy isn’t moving.
It was lovely is that when I was working with somebody some years ago who was teaching me a little bit about chi, about how to move energy, we say you lay hands. You bring warmth, you bring energy to that area where there’s a blockage so that it clears the blockage so that flow is better, the chi is better and therefore it promotes this resolution or this restoration of what some people might refer to as healing. I just thought it was so beautiful that we could put a word like love right there in the heart space, heart chakra right there. In any event Mary, thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. It was a bit of a digression but I appreciate you inspiring it.
I think it’s very important that whatever shows up in the presence of a conversation, my opinion or my experience has been it’s the conversation that was meant to be had. You don’t know how that’s going to affect someone who heard it and so I think it’s perfect.
Mary, what is your background? If you would share it with us. I think that’s part of your pivot and in how it is that you’re doing the work you’ve been doing. Because it wasn’t easy for you growing up where you grew up and some things like that. I want those to come from you, so share a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and what challenges you faced early on.
I am of Asian descent as you pointed out, and especially since moving to the United States back in 2001, one of the most common reactions that I’ve had from people, some are very used to it now, is when I start to speak they go, “Where’s that accent from?” Because clearly it’s not a Chinese accent. My history is that I was born in Hong Kong and when I was seven years old, my family migrated to Australia where I grew up.
[Tweet “Whatever shows up in the presence of a conversation, it’s the conversation that was meant to be had.”]
What part of Australia?
I grew up in Sydney, Australia and came to the United States as an adult so after school. After college graduation, then I moved here to work. That’s where my pivot began in some ways. I went to school to be a computer programmer and at the time I was very passionate about that topic and I loved it. I loved the job that I did. I enjoyed it. That was number one, and my interest was just naturally there to begin with. I went to school after graduating from my Bachelors of Computing Science. I started working in a large, well-known bank in Australia, in the IT department, and was a programmer there for a number of years. I don’t know if this is called a pivot, I changed companies doing similar work, but for a different company in the airline industry. It’s a completely different industry, so I learned a lot there as well, but with the continuous roots of the technology, underlying theme. Then moved over to more business analysis, more systems analytics role, which I quickly found was not my cup of tea. Just because my brain wasn’t wired that way and I didn’t find that there were enough creative opportunities the way I was doing the role. I quickly shifted back into programming because I found that that was more enjoyable and more interesting to me.
Then I moved to the United States, which is where this journey began. I worked for a software company in the United States, in the New York, New Jersey area. It was within that role that I started to realize how self-conscious I was when I started to speak up for myself in public. Back then, in public was in a team meeting or even just one on two with a couple of co-workers. I found that even though I knew secretly that I had this personality, the personality just wasn’t coming across. I was so focused on how I looked and my self-consciousness around people going to be able to tell that I don’t know what I’m talking about in this particular topic or situations where I would constantly be in meetings where the people within the meeting, were talking about system XYZ, system ABC. Not knowing what those systems were and being too self-conscious to ask because I was so concerned that, “Maybe I’m supposed to know what those systems are.”
In that sense, I started to realize that there was a skill, there was a way of being, whatever you want to call it, that I wasn’t embodying. I wasn’t being true to myself and what was there for me to be expressed. That’s when I started on the public speaking journey and decided to work on my public speaking skills so that I could articulate myself in public without feeling self-conscious. That was my number one goal to begin with, just to be able to speak up without feeling self-conscious. I had no idea how long that journey was going to take and how many iterations of speaking that I needed to go through. The different mentors to learn from and the personal work that I had to put into it to be able to get to the other side. Simply to be myself when I’m speaking and not some fake made-up person that I was not far along on my journey of self-developed meant to even know that I was being fake.
Basically, just unaware of even the facade or this thing that’s not you, but it is the you that you adopt an embodied to get through or to be safe.
The way I would describe it now and the way I teach my students is we all have a spectrum of expressions. Whenever I was speaking in public, that spectrum would shrink to a very small portion. I wasn’t expressing the rest of the spectrum, just as particular zone that I was comfortable enough to be able to express. Along this public speaking journey and discovering what it takes to be able to express myself freely, that’s what it is. It’s one thing to be able to be on stage and teach something or talk about a certain topic that you’re passionate about or talk about a certain topic that you’re asked to speak about at work. Then it’s another thing altogether to be able to be present enough. That’s why when you mentioned the title of my book, the word present is in inverted commas because it is a play on words, on presenting, present; as well as being present, which is where all the power is.
What I started to notice along my own journey of learning public speaking was not just within my own experience, but just seeing a student after student after student confronting themselves within themselves why their speaking was the biggest challenge. It wasn’t so much the mechanics of the speaking, it wasn’t even how you articulate yourself, voice control and how you stand and make sure you have eye contact with the audience. Which in every public speaking training I ever went to, that’s very much one of the big components that you have to master and it’s important. I’m not saying it’s not important, but those mechanics did not help the person on the stage that I was coaching to not be nervous and to not let their own negative self-talk get in the way of connecting with the audience. That’s why I felt the need to write this book, which is a summary of all the processes that I use in my classes, which is how to tell your inner critic to shut up and the real you to speak up. I know it’s tongue in cheek in it.
It is a bit cheeky and it suits you. I know you for quite some time, one of those beautiful things is that you are a cheeky. You have this great sense of humor and your variance, the word that we typically use when we’re training. I know you’ve been most recently to one of our speaker trainer programs. Variance is so important because we have to make sure as you’re as you’re indicating that we are connecting. We don’t leave anybody behind and we know that if we’re up there putting people to sleep or if what we’re saying has no impact or if we’re just not confident in ourselves in that moment to be present. Presence is a reflection of our inner state of wellness and our inner peace. That’s what confidence is, that you’re standing in peace in that moment. When you are standing in peace, not only are you powerful, but you’re there in the moment and you can therefore be available to all those people that are in front of you. Which means you get to be in relationship with them.
We all know that we give our attention to people that we’re in relationship with. We give our attention to people we care about and we give our attention to people that we believe and feel care about us. All those other things you’re describing are very much these separations. I heard somebody once say that the original sin is all about the belief that we’re separate from our brothers and sisters. Separate from whatever other sources in the universe we believe in, but that separation is that sin. There’s no greater sin on the stage that I can think of than being separate or having a facade that separates you from other people that puts you above them or beyond them or feel any of those things. You’ve been doing this a long time. Does that make sense to you that that’s the distinction here?
The way you described it is wonderful. I want to add to that. Picture yourself on the stage and you’re just about to give a speech or even you’re in the middle of giving one and you might say something, but then there is this other voice in your head. The way I describe it is there are always two voices that are speaking when you’re on stage, the one that’s coming out of your mouth and the one that’s going on in your head. For most people who have not done the personal development work and the real work with themselves to look at what your little voice in your head actually saying to you as you’re speaking on stage, what I found most people answered were things such as, “I hope I’m prepared enough. I hope they don’t ask me a hard question. I hope I don’t sound stupid. I hope that there’s no one in the audience who’s going to call me out if I say something wrong or they know more than me.” All these voices that in aggregate are dis-empowering as we’re on stage.
Those voices, how do they interfere with the experience of being present?
I’m glad you asked because what happens is those voices that you are focused on will be the invisible wall between you and the audience. It is like an invisible wall because you are completely focused on that. When you’re focused on that, there’s no space for you to be available for your audience, for that clear person to person, heart to heart communication. I have to be upfront. It’s not an instant process. It takes a lot of time and energy into being real with yourself. That’s why it’s called Tell Your Inner Critic to Shut Up and the Real You to Speak Up because it’s almost like getting to know yourself all over again, like a new person. You’ve been relating to yourself as such for long time and now it’s providing another angle of looking at yourself because that begs the question. If your inner critic is not the real you, and I’m saying it’s not, then who is?
This is such a great point of inquiry, Mary, because that of who is, public speaking is confronting. It’s one of the most incredible accelerators of personal growth. I never said that before, but you’re inspiring that to come through. I had a podcast with Alan Cohen, who has written 25 of the most amazing books and is very well-thought of in the personal development space and lives in Hawaii now. He and I were talking about how important it is that we are continuing to develop and evolve ourselves and in many ways, that road for him at this point in his life is more about self-acceptance. It’s more about self-acceptance than it is about self-developing. Public speaking in particular is something that puts us on the fast track to new discovery about ourselves because we are so vulnerable on that stage. We are so out there naked to the eyes and the ears of the people in front of us, whether those are virtual ears and eyes like we’re in the situation we’re in now or it’s live on some big stage. I know you and I both have been on many, many of those stages.
When you’re in that situation, the best of you will have to be drawn out or you will not continue to evolve. You’ll just shrink. A lot of people I know, that’s why they don’t do it. That’s why they don’t step forward to want to learn how to speak publicly. As you say, speaking publicly, it could be just a couple of your coworkers in the office. It’s a presentation you might make because you want to get promoted. It’s speaking up in a leadership meeting where you’ve not spoken up before, where your voice hasn’t been heard. You’re borrowing from what you said earlier, it’s expressing yourself differently or allowing that whole pallet of expressiveness to be utilized in a work context.
[Tweet “You can’t predict what words will come out of your mouth that’s going to make the difference with people.”]
It’s actually getting up and speaking at whether it’s a local chapter meeting, whether it’s the rotary club or it’s any other meeting that you might be invited to speak to or it’s deciding you actually want to create a platform and speak to a larger group of people. It’s going to confront you exactly where you are in your own stage of development. I think I understand why it would be frightening. I still to this day, whenever I speak in any way shape or form, I respect it so much so that I pray beforehand, I say something to myself to remind that it’s not about me. It’s other people that are the most important components of whole conversation. I remind myself that because I know that there is this opportunity to reach people, connect, develop relationship. It’s also at the same opportunity, a moment and opportunity for me to shrink, to fall back on old insecurities or self-consciousness. I’m sure it’s the same for you. Your voice inside of your head, what does your voice tell you these days when you’re getting ready to speak and when you’re speaking? You described these two voices, the one that’s in the head, this inner critic and the one that’s actually saying something.
I’ll answer that in just one moment because what you said hit the nail on the head. It all starts from self-acceptance. I find that public speaking is a good front door access to be able to have that conversation with people about the inner critic because it’s not one of those topics that you randomly go, “Can I have a hot dog? By the way, have you noticed your inner critic?” It’s not the right segue. Public speaking however, and many people that come to me, it’s because of some situation that they’re forced to now they have to. They’re like, “What am I going to do now? I have to. I’ve been avoiding in the past all this time.” That piece of fear that everybody has around being judged by others. We all have that as human beings. That’s one thing that we will have just naturally. We’re afraid to be judged by others, some more than others depending on how much work we’ve done on ourselves. When you think about it, it’s the fear of self-judgment because if someone comes to you and says, “That green hair that you have is ridiculous.” I don’t have green hair so it’s not going to bother me, but if someone comes up to you and gives you some criticism that you yourself secretly at the back of your mind think might be true for you, that’s when it hurts. That’s self-acceptance piece is the most important and that’s the part that processes that I teach to allow people to step into their own acceptance.
Going back to your question, what do I do now? When I get on the stage and what voices do I hear is I always begin before, whether it’s teaching a multi-day thing or just speaking on stage for 45 minutes, I take the time to get quiet before I go on and connect with myself, the real me. Just by being silent and being calm for a couple of minutes, all of those other voices that are in the head floating around, thoughts, inner critic, whatever it is, starts to come down and quiet down. Then I begin with saying out loud to myself what my intention is for this audience. Depending on the talk or the training, it could be a different intention, but the most powerful intentions that I set up for myself are the ones that come from my heart, that’s for the servicing of the audience. I’m here not for my own ego gratification. In fact if it was about my ego, I would never would have gone on stage in the first place and force myself to go through these pain, struggling lessons of knowing how to speak on the stage. It comes from my heart, for a higher purpose of something that’s even bigger than myself. What can they get out of it? What can I say? I can never predict.
You’ve probably had this experience too. You speak for an hour and then that one word you say at minute 38 and 25 seconds made a difference to somebody. You can’t predict what words will come out of your mouth that’s going to make the difference with people. The intention is there, the words that I’m saying, I don’t even know exactly what words I’m going to say. I know the highlight points that I’m going to make, but it’s the energy behind the words which come from that intention of my heart to serve them that is going to show up. I’m going to show up differently as a person when I’m coming from that intention than if I’m just going up nonchalant, “These words come out of my mouth, whatever, then it’s going to come across that way.” When the intention is at the forefront of my mind, my heart, and embodiment, my way of being shifts into something else that I could not create if I was coming from those little voices. To answer your question, those little voices almost disappear. There are times when I’ve spoken on stage for an hour or two hours, a whole day even, and it seemed like it was like five minutes because the whole presence was there. I wasn’t even taking log exactly. Analytically my left brain was shut down because I was completely just being with them.
This is what I was wanting to hear you say, just as I was craving it, because at the beginning the voice is present and the voice doesn’t go away entirely. In all the talks that I’ve given all over the world. I remember I was in China and we had 12,000 people there during the event I did with Tony Robins and then Japan we had 7,000 or 8,000 in Taiwan. All over the place, these massive groups of people and then small, small groups. The one thing that’s been consistent is that the voice that you’re talking about isn’t present on stage. It was at the beginning because that’s the voice of self-consciousness. That’s the voice of not being confident, not being open, vulnerable, willing to be vulnerable, willing to be open. That’s the voice that that does not have firm intentions, that anchor the reason behind why you’re there doing what you’re doing.
These are fundamentally ways in which not only we’ll be better at being human, being people, being peaceful as examples of peace, as models of peace when we stand on stage, but they’re also very much training for how to be a better person off the stage. That’s what I find. The little voice is more with me when I’m not on stage than when I’m onstage. The interesting thing is it’s a rest for me, it’s a rest from the voice, the inner critic when I’m on stage because it’s such a giving, it’s such a point of service. It’s such a point of intentionality. That voice is there to say things like, ‘Don’t tell that story. We don’t have time for that story. “You’re going down that road? Go down that road. You can’t stop it now. Here it comes.” It’s little statements like, “You idiot,” or “What are you doing? You don’t have any right to talk about business when you’ve made all these mistakes. What gives you the right?” Any number of things that would otherwise get in the way of showing up, of being a bigger and better version of yourself and of myself.
Those things actually go away in that environment. Yes, does it take time? We talked about this training of, of becoming a speaker, of becoming a leader. Speakers are teachers and teachers are leaders. We need more leaders in our world and to be that we’ve got to put in the time. We’ve got to do our 10,000 hours plus of practicing. You used the word iterations earlier. There’s got to be more iterations of that confronting our little voice, of confronting our insecurities, about speaking up, about being heard, about having an opinion and sharing that opinion.
As long as it comes from this place that resides inside of our heart, which is a place of service, a place of what our highest intentions are, true intentions, are when it comes from that place, the words are there. They’re not always perfect but the words are there. The energy’s there. Love is there. That connection, the presence is there. That’s what takes time and it takes practice and being mentored and coached. That’s why I love that you do that, and it’s such a wonderful thing. I want to ask you, Mary, because we’d known each other for a while and it was so you to make reference to our relationship in the book. If you could share with me and with our folks what it is that you gained? I love this about you. You’ve taught all these people, you’ve been on stages and shared this work with others to coach people through it and yet you’re still a student of it. You’re still learning. I think that’s so important that we not miss that point. We spent days in class. What was that like for you?
I’ll start by saying this, my philosophy around learning, and it doesn’t matter what topic it is, is I’m always a beginner. That is my attitude. I’m always a beginner, as you pointed out, even though I’ve trained thousands and thousands of people, I’m always a beginner. There’s a Zen saying called the beginner’s mind, and I resonate with that 100%. The reason being is on the path of mastery is not a linear process. It is more like an infinity symbol and you can go around and around and around in this infinity symbol, which looks like a sideways number eight because there’s no matter what level you’re at currently, there’s always another level.
By the way, it’s not just with the public speaking, it’s with anything that you learn from scratch. I had that experience with learning martial arts, for example. The first x number of months that you begin picking up a new skill, there’s always going to be that time when you feel self-conscious. There’s always going to be that time when you feel insecure and go, “What am I doing here? This is not for me. I’m never good at good at this.” That phase of learning will always be there no matter what it is that you’re learning. In essence, we’re working on ourselves because we are the common denominator amongst all the different skills that we’re working on. Working on you, working on me, working on our self-acceptance is going to translate across all areas.
When I took this course with you, I had no idea what I was going to learn. I said this to Diana, one of the staff members, “I know I’m definitely going to learn a lot. I don’t even know what it is but I just want to hang out with Adam and Randi because whatever it is that’s going to come out of their mouth, I know I’m going to learn something.” I wasn’t anticipating what I was going to learn, but what I got out of it was so powerful for me. I actually had a breakthrough. I don’t even think we had a chance at the end to speak about this. I had a breakthrough and the breakthrough I don’t know if you remember when I shared on stage during the training, when I stood up and shared what my authentic voice was, because you had us go through this process of what our authentic voice is. As much as I thought I was clear on it, I got extra clear on it this time. How I knew with all of my heart and soul that it resonated with me, 1,000% was the moment I said it, “I felt this energy like just rise in me and vibrate within me.” I was like shaking from excitement from being so aligned with this authentic voice that I always knew I wanted to create but couldn’t quite articulate it in words as succinctly as that.
My authentic voice is to awaken the power of your soul and what that is is you are so much more powerful than you think you are. Specifically, who I want to help step up into the in this world are heart-centered individuals who are ready to step up to the next level of their leadership. Whether it’s emerging leaders or people who are already in leadership positions who want to take it to the next level, heart-centered. Why I feel so strongly about that is I’ve lived a lot of my life being head-centered. What I’m realizing very quickly in my latest pivot into doing this full-time and making a bigger impact in the world is the biggest impact that I’m going to make is when I follow my heart and create such as this authentic voice I just shared with you that comes directly from my heart, from my source, for my spirit, with however you want to put it, from another place that’s not my head. To summarize this whole journey of moving, there was another author that I that I had seen a give a speech. He said this and it resonated. “The longest distance is the fifteen inches between your head and your heart.” That to me has been a long journey.
I very much appreciate the breakthrough that you had during our training because it is so important that we get clear on what our voice is. In fact, what we teach is that, and this is not the typical order of things. People want to build a brand. They want to get on their work, on their marketing. They want to know what to say, what their message. What it is they want to say to get people to buy their product or service. We’ve simplified it and I think it’s distilled down and still could use some further refinement, I’m sure. I love how simple it is, which is that when you’re clear on your voice, you know what you want to say. We’re not that unclear about what it is we actually want to say. We speak all the time. It’s just a question of getting clear on what issue want to say and what you also wished that voice, how you wish those words to land with people, how you want people to receive that information.
[Tweet “Always observe what’s going on in your own head.”]
You got clear on what your voice is, that it is to empower and awaken the souls of other people. It’s profound when you know what you want to say, that message becomes the marketing tool for you, so meaning your voice leads to your message. Your message informs you who is meant to hear the message and you ask the question, “Who’s meant to hear this message?” That tells you who your marketplace is. When you know who your marketplace is, the question that we ask then is, “What’s the best way to serve that group of people? What’s the best way to serve that tribe? The product that is the result of that inquiry becomes the way to solve a problem, create a solution to a pain, to move somebody from point A to point B. It’s your voice that leads to your message that leads to the market that leads to the product. Whereas most people are looking at, “I want to sell this thing or I have this and now what’s the best way for me to market it? What’s the message I can create to develop an interest in this product and other people?” It’s a bit backwards because ultimately, we will not be fulfilled. We will not be satisfied until we are being seen and being heard.
When Oprah described all the years that she spent on TV or doing her Oprah Show, she said the most important thing for her as a takeaway as the indication of the success of her time on the air was that people felt seen, people felt heard, and people knew that their lives mattered. Those three things were the legacy of her shows. When you know your authentic voice, not just your voice, but you have clarity about your authentic voice and then therefore you know what you wish to say and who’s meant to hear what it is that you wish to say and what it is that you wish to do to serve that community of people, you have a business. You have a business, but you have so much more than a business. You have a calling. A stage is a wonderful place to develop that calling and to develop that business.
Regardless of whether people have a traditional business or they’re working for someone else or working as an employee, I think everybody and I make no exceptions to this, whether they’re kids, whether they’re 80 or 90 years old, if you’ve never developed the skills of speaking of public speaking, of being able to speak as a visionary, as a leader, it’s one of the most profound skills to develop. It takes some time, it takes some commitment to that process, which is even a lifelong process that you described. It is profound as you said, breakthroughs come in places you can’t even predict. I use myself as an example. I’m an introvert. People would probably never guess that, but the way I define that is I get my energy. When I’m wanting to recharge my battery, I go inside and I want to be alone or I want to be with my beautiful wife Randi or with our kids or something. Yet I’d spent so much time with thousands of people and put myself on stage.
The reason that I do that as I get over myself. I get over the fact that I’m an introvert because my higher purpose and my calling is to be a channel for love. When I speak, I want my words to land with the object of opening hearts. My intention is that in any speaking I do, regardless of where it is, what it is, that it will open a heart, that it will open hearts. Therefore, the introvert in me, the shy me, the insecure as me, me that was bullied when I was eight years old, it recedes. It has to because it has no place. It has no place in leadership. When we stand on a stage and we open our mouths with an intention to convey love or to empower a soul as the calling of your voice, then that little critic, that inner voice, that insecure or bullied person or that victim or whatever that is it, it goes off. It goes and waits, which is truly remarkable, Mary. I’ve so enjoyed our conversation. I did not just enjoy the conversation, but I enjoy who you are in the world, what you are modeling, and how you’re spreading the message.
Thank you. I think from somebody who’s in the audience and perhaps hadn’t got to that stage of being able to just completely eradicate the little voice and the critic and be able to speak from that space. I want to emphasize that it’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s like two sides of the same coin. On one side of the coin is working on your relationship with yourself. The process of that complete self-acceptance so that you can on the other side of the coin become from that place of self-acceptance and serve others. For the audience, I don’t want to leave them with the impression accidentally that, “I’m completely over my inner critic.” That always comes up when I’m outside my own comfort zone.
My recommendation and suggestion to everybody listening is to always observe what’s going on in your own head. How are you speaking to yourself? What’s the dialogue that you’re using? Because that’ll tell you everything you need to know as to exactly what state you’re in in that moment and you can then have an opportunity to shift it. For example, there are times when I have two speaking engagements coming up in a row and then the night before in my head I’m saying, “I don’t want of feel like it. It’s going to take so much energy to get there. I just want to stay in and sleep tonight. I just want to hang out because it’s snowing outside.” This resistance that goes on in my head, in my internal dialogue. I’m like, “I get that’s what’s going on. I totally get it. I’ll let that pass,” and then it passes just like clouds in the sky. Then I’m on like, “It’s time to speak in front. I’m on,” there’s this moment where you just shift. I’m mentioning that because I wanted to be clear that it’s not a one-time done deal and you’re forever done and you’re consistently present all the time, all the time. That’s not how I experienced it.
Mary, your inner critic, does sound like a whiny kid?
It depends. Sometimes it sounds like a whiny kid. It sounds like a bit of more of a bully.
Mary, does it have an accent or no accent?
I’d have to look into that. I’ll get back to you on that. I think sometimes it even speaks to me in Chinese, which is when I know that it’s coming from a different place because I don’t usually think in Chinese.
I asked Alan, he’s written books about fear and I asked him at this stage in his life what’s the most prevalent fear? I think questions are important, including the way the voice sounds. It is intriguing how does the voice sound, and what does it sound like? Does it have an accent? Is it familiar as it sounded like your mother or your mother-in-law or some teacher that you had when you were in third grade? What is the voice of that critic?
Mary, it’s been a blast to have you on the show. I truly appreciate everything that you’ve shared. For our listeners, again, I think Mary and I both sit on the side of wanting you to get off the sidelines. If this is of interest to you, great. If it’s not, it may just not be time, but our world is so in need of more leaders and speaking is a great vehicle to lead. Whether it’s again in the office or it’s in small groups elsewhere, it’s a meet up or it’s something bigger that you’re looking to experience. Maybe get paid to speak at association meetings or charitable functions. Whatever it is, it would be wonderful to get yourself off that bucket list or a to-do list or something like and it make it front and center.
Present Yourself in Public Speaking is Mary Cheyne’s book. As always, I’m so happy and very grateful that you are a part of this community. Hopefully you’re getting great value out of these podcasts and pivot stories and inspirations of people that you’ve maybe heard of, people you’ve never heard of, and that’s just wonderful. Please share the wealth, share the podcast with others. If you’re not yet subscribed, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. We love the reviews and love the feedback. I know that’s one of the things we just did during our part of enrollment or a weekend master class in public speaking you taught is very important feedback loop. It’s so important that we be open to receive feedback and that we have a process, and even a technique for giving feedback to other people. It doesn’t have to be something that you’re afraid of, you shy away from, but rather it’s something that’s so valuable. We eat it up with a spoon and a knife and fork. The feedback piece, Mary, was that valuable to you?
I’m always a sponge. I’m just this constant sponge, so I’m sponging in anything that’s an insight that you helped me trigger. It’s very valuable. Like I said, a beginner’s mind keeps me humble. It keeps me true to my heart. I’m a constant learner and anything you create, any programs you create in the future, I’m out there.
In a group like we had, which is intimate, we just work pretty closely with about twelve people, was it valuable to have other people, people that you knew and people that you’ve never met before provide you with honest feedback? Did it feel credible? Was it useful? Was it confronting in a negative way or was it positive? What was your experience with that?
It was definitely very valuable. The way I’ve trained myself to receive feedback and the way I train my students to receive feedback is treated as a gift. It’s like a gift that someone gives you. Let’s say you open up the present and it’s this ugly shirt and in your mind you’re like, “I would never wear this shirt.” Then they’re still standing there. “Thank you so much.” It’s up to you to decide what to do with the shirt later. Do you re-gift it or do you recycle it or do you wear it at home? When people give me feedback, I always filter it through that mind. It’s a wonderful gift. Thank you for giving it to me and let me run it through to see if it makes sense to me and if it resonates with me I will definitely use it and try it on. If it doesn’t resonate with me for whatever reason, I’ll say, “Maybe another time.” I’ve trained myself not to take feedback personally and in that sense it’s all valuable. What I received from that was amazing, because it was a news story that I was working on. They don’t feel like it’s, “I’ve got all my stories done and everything’s great.” There’s always new material that I’m working on that I want to continue mastering too.
I grew up in a house that was pretty open. It was open to my ideas and things like that, but when there was criticism or feedback, it sometimes was harsh. I think there are a lot of people out there that have experienced harsh criticism and are afraid to receive criticism from people and/or critique or feedback. Calling it feedback doesn’t make it less harsh. Calling something feedback is still damaging to somebody or be coming from a place that’s just not very heart-centered. What I love about the process that we teach is it makes it almost impossible for it to be received personally or for it to be delivered in a way that’s harsh. Clearly the people that we cultivate in this community are not harsh people to begin with. We all again have been trained and programmed to deliver our opinion in ways that sometimes can land as judgment and we deliver it as judgment. You brought up judgment earlier and obviously the hardest part for most of us is self-judgment. In a way that you format feedback, I think you can take the judgment element out of it and that’s what we love about that.
Speaking of no judgment zones, our community on Facebook is called start my pivot and you can get there by going to PivotFB.com. Obviously, you can just search for it on Facebook as well at Start My Pivot Community on Facebook or take the shortcut URL, PivotFB.com, which will take you to the front door. That is clearly a worthy way to find out you’re committed. We curate the community for a reason and the people there are super heart-centered and/or vulnerable about where they are in their pivot, in their transitions, whether they’re career transitions, they are public speaking related to transition, their personal, their health, their relationships, but people are just wonderfully open and vulnerable in that space. That’s because part of the context for what happens there on that page is that you don’t judge. There’s no judgment zone. That’s wonderful and open.
[Tweet “When people give me feedback, I always filter it through that mind. It’s a wonderful gift.”]
If you’re interested in that support and you’re willing to also give support as well as receive it, then that community be a beautiful thing for you as well. I want to end our podcast as we began with gratitude, with appreciation. I am in appreciation for all of you out there, I may not be able to see you at the moment, but we are certainly connected whether we can or can’t see each other. We’re connected through our breath. We’re connected through our mutual intentions, which I know are loving intentions. I’m going to wave this magic one which I get to do on the show. I appreciate the fact that I have the power, this pseudo power to be able to set a powerful intention, not just for myself but on behalf of all of us, and that is tomorrow you wake up, you wake up. I wake up, Mary that you wake up. That we are woken up a bit more than we are now. That our minds are more open, that our consciousness is raised, that our awareness is heightened, that our presence is greater, that our belief in ourselves and in the possibility of our lives as well as the possibility of all of the lives of all of our brothers and sisters sharing this planet with us at this time, that those things are realized.
We take that first morning breath, that first conscious breath deeply, that we realize how sacred and important that breath is, because in that moment there are people taking their very last breath. As has been pointed out to me, there are also people that are being born that are taking their very first breath in that moment. What a beautiful moment. What a moment to be grateful for. Yes, wake up. Take that deep breath, be in gratitude, and if you’re inclined to say these words out loud, I start my day every day with them. It’s part of my morning ritual. I say, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” I certainly wish that for all of you. Have a beautiful rest of your day. Blessings wherever you are. We’ll see you soon.
- Mary Cheyne
- Present Yourself in Public Speaking: Tell Your Inner Critic to SHUT UP! And the Real You to SPEAK UP!
- Peak Potentials
- Alan Cohen
- Conscious Pivot Podcast on iTunes
About Mary Cheyne
Despite starting out as a shy computer programmer who hid behind her computer because she was too self-conscious, Mary went on to become the 2009 World Champion of Public Speaking 2nd place winner, out of 25,000 contestants from 14 countries. She is the President of her own training & communications company & has trained over 15,000 people in 25 cities around the world. She also taught public speaking & communications-related classes at Northeastern University for 7 years & is the author of the Amazon Best Selling book “Present” Yourself in Public Speaking – Tell Your Inner Critic to SHUT UP! And the Real You To SPEAK UP! During her 15 years of training, speaking & coaching experience, Mary has learned one important thing: “To communicate and persuade effectively, the first person you need to convince is YOURSELF”.