Do you ever ramble on, repeat yourself, or self-edit when speaking?
Usually, that’s a sign that you might be interrupting yourself internally with negative self-reflection. It’s when you evaluate what you said in mid-sentence and judge it as not good.
For example look at the following two sentences. One has no interruptions and is clear and concise, and the other one has a negative interruption and obviously does not sound great.
Sentence #1 (no interruptions): “Hi my name is Peter Khoury, and I am the founder of Magnetic Speaking Inc.”
Sentence #2 (with internal negative interruptions): “Hi my name is Peter (pause or ahh or umm), wait maybe I should start by talking about why I am here (pause or ahh or umm) ok sorry, no I will do my name, my name is Peter Khoury, and I am the founder of Magnetic Speaking Inc (pause or ahh or umm) Magnetic Speaking yes.
See the difference: One has flow, and one does not.
The reason the second version does not have flow is that of the negative internal interruptions you do to yourself. Below is the same example and in it, you will see between brackets what might be happening in your head when the interruptions happen.
[ Brackets are what you say internally in your head]
“Hi my name is Peter [wait does this sound weird to start with my name], wait maybe I should start by talking about why I am here [no that sound ridiculous just finish what you started] ok sorry, no I will do my name, my name is Peter Khoury and I am the founder of Magnetic Speaking Inc [ mmmm I should not say Inc, It will make them think of us as a big organization] Magnetic Speaking yes.
Most of the time the negative self-reflections happen so fast that you are not conscious of them. But you see their effect (unnecessary pauses, fillers, stammering, etc.).
I know this might seem like an exaggerated example – maybe not. I’ve seen clients with a mild version of this phenomenon and some with an extreme case that they can’t say anything that makes sense.
This problem is easily solvable. You can solve it by retraining your habit of internal dialogue. Below is how you retrain yourself.
How to create flow
You can create flow with you communications by replacing the negative internal reflection with positive ones. The negative self-reflection forces a stop, pivot, and change in direction. The positive internal reflection will allow you to keep going without interruptions. When you speak without interruptions, your language is going to flow, and you will sound more fluent and confident.
There are two strategies that I found to work.
One is to fix it on the spot when presenting, the second to retrain your brain with an exercise.
On the spot strategy:
Do it when you are presenting or speaking in front of a group. Say you are presenting and you have the urge to change direction, just tell yourself internally that what you said was good enough and continue on the original thought. Over time your brain will learn not to pivot based on these costly interruptions.
The above strategy works by replacing the negative internal reflection on the spot. Another way to do this to carve a separate time and practice. I found from experience that a combination of these strategies works best.
Brain retrain session:
You do this to train your brain to do positive internal reflection on a regular basis instead of the negative one. I do it once or twice myself every week. I also do it with clients who need it once or twice in every session. The improvements happen fast.
You can do this exercise alone, with a partner or with a coach (link to coaching page).
- Speak about a topic for 30 seconds (time it)
- Stop and do positive reflection by asking the following question
What did you like about what you said? – answer out loud.
What was good about what you said? – answer out loud.
What was great about what you said? – answer out loud.
- Continue with the topic for another 30 seconds
- Repeat three more times for a total of 2 minutes
You can do this with a partner and have the partner or the coach call the time for you to stop and self-reflect. We do this with our clients at Magnetic Speaking, and we see a profound effect on the flow and confidence of customers just after a couple of practice sessions.
If you find yourself stopping at the 30-second mark and feel the urge to change direction, it’s probably because the negative internal dialogue is causing it. Whenever that interruption happens, just say ignore it and stay on point or interject a positive internal dialogue in its place.
You can also do the same strategy after each presentation you give. I’ll talk about this plan in another article I published about public speaking confidence, and it’s an approach used by Tiger Woods to improve his Golf Game. You can use the same strategy to improve your public speaking game.
If you want to flow better with your presentations and with your communication in general, you need to replace the negative internal dialogue with a positive one.