Ep #66: Lit Up On Stage: Staying Connected to Your Audience and Message

by | Podcast

The desire to speak can feel so powerful and certain… until the questions start filing in.

What if I forget what I’m going to say?
How do I deliver my message in a way that keeps their attention?
What if I lose my train of thought while I’m speaking?

So many feelings fill our body when we actually get the opportunity to do the thing we’ve been dreaming of doing: get on that stage and deliver our message.

It can feel overwhelming – and we can stop ourselves before we even start because we’re so worried we won’t know how to handle it if we lose our focus or forget what we planned to say.

The wonderful news is, you have a whole untapped place in you that is ready and waiting to serve you no matter what happens when you’re up there.

So in this week’s podcast, we’re diving into Part 2 of a new 4-part series called Lit Up On Stage. In today’s episode I talk about how to feel connected in a very real way, from the inside out, with your audience and your message while you are standing on stage so you can enjoy that “lit up on stage” feeling while you deliver.
What's so beautiful inside of the speaker thought leadership world to me is knowing about the connection we always have with that place in us that gets lit up when we're on stage, when we're sharing our expertise, when we're serving in that way. I’m excited to dive further into this topic in today’s episode.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to keep a strong connection with your audience in the midst of your own feelings and thoughts as you deliver
  • How to stay true to your message and get people to actually listen
  • Where speaking anxiety really comes from (and how to handle it!)
  • How to connect to the spaciousness within you to deliver a heartfelt message
  • The best ways to get back on track with your message, even when you go astray for a moment

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you're on a mission to make a difference in the world with your message, you are in the right place. I'm Michelle Barry Franco and I'm thrilled that you're here. Hello, my Thought Leadership friends, how are you? I am packing up for a trip heading to Georgetown in Washington D.C. I really love going there. It's such a fun place. Just the energy is amazing and the location of the Author Incubator, which is where I'm going. It's just like right around the corner from all kinds of cool stuff like DC Cupcakes. Georgetown Cupcakes I think is the official name of the place, but we used to watch that show with my daughters and so I get a little fan girl still even though that was many years ago. Anyway, so I'm packing up and preparing and thinking about going to do a workshop there and then I'll also be on the red carpet again for the red carpet launch with the authors and I'm just thinking so much about the energy that I feel when I'm about to go up and do some new speaking.

I've been doing lots of it lately, both online and IRL in real life. And also as I support other people, you know when I go up onto the red carpet with the authors, it really is, you know, I get to be there in the energy of kind of a somewhat spontaneous conversation about their book. So today we're going to dive into the second in our series. I think we're going to do a four part series and this is the lit up on stage series. And I was inspired to do this really because I've just been thinking a lot about that feeling like how do you strip away all the other crap that you're hearing? It's not all crap, it's not all bad, but there's just so much to learn and you can buy a zillion books. And there are all these processes around how to craft a great talk and ways you can move on the stage and how to get speaking gigs.

And I'm not, I don't mean to minimize any of those things, but really what's most beautiful and really what most of us who are drawn to this lifestyle, the speaker Thought Leadership world, what we're looking for is I think a connection with that place in us that gets lit up when we're on stage, when we're sharing our expertise, when we're serving in that way. So that's what inspired this series. And today we're going to talk about feeling connected to your audience and your message really from that lit up on stage place. And the reason is I get so many questions about that all come down to this, down to that connection with your own message, your own content. How do you keep that connection even under often many, many feelings going through your body when you're standing there in front of the audience and how do you keep that strong, powerful connection with the audience when we can get pretty caught up in all those feelings and the thoughts that are often associated with those feelings.

So well that's what we're going to talk about all of that today. When a pause really quickly and ask you if you have not given us a rating and review on iTunes, would you do that please? I would just so appreciate it just helps other people find this podcast and I've gotten some beautiful notes and messages from people lately that they're so grateful to find this way of talking about public speaking and so I just want the right people to find it. So if you can help out with that, I would greatly, greatly appreciate it. And if you send me a note and let me know that you've done that, I have a little special gift that I'll send to you. So just send me an email@michelleatthethoughtleadershipschool.com and I'll send you just a little fun gift in email as a thank you for your kind review.

Okay, so lit up on stage talking about feeling connected to your audience and your message. So I was talking with a client recently and she was saying I'm completely fine when I'm talking one on one with people. In fact, I'm more than fine. I'm awesome at it. People tell me all the time that I'm warm and confident. You know, you could tell, I can tell that about her, that she just has this ease and this grace when she's communicating. And that's what she was saying. She said, I feel confident and at ease. Then she says, I get up on stage or in front of a group of people and I lose all sense of myself. I can't focus. I start judging everything that I'm saying and so then I stumble over my words and get stuck and sometimes just paralyzed. It's a terrible cycle. This is a familiar story to me.

I hear this commonly and really from people that would surprise you. I'm sure people that you would never guess that they get nervous when they're getting up on stage. I mean, maybe this happens to you. I've certainly had it happen to me. It's situationally, no doubt. So we have a Facebook community where I share speaking and thought leadership, inspiration and guidance every week. It's free. You can join us. It's called the thought leadership community. And when you join that community, you're asked, everyone has asked three questions. So we've gotten to ask more than 450 people. I think that's about how many little more than that we have in the group. We've gotten to ask more than 400 people. These questions, these three questions and they're basically, you know, how did you find out about us? And then at the very last one is, you know, is that what one question do you have about public speaking that you'd like to get answered?

And so it's such a rich treasure chest of questions and so I use that to answer Q and A's and that kind of thing in the group. But I'm telling you all of this because as I was thinking about our topic today and this feeling connected to your audience and your message, I went back to this, we keep a Google spreadsheet of all the answers to those questions. Because side note, if you ever run a Facebook group and you ask those kinds of questions and you're thinking that you'll be able to go back. And you know, once you approve the people you can go back and see their answers to the questions. Any time. No, those answers disappear. So we learned that the hard way when we first started the group and that's why we do we move, we trained before we approve a new person, we transfer their answers over to us spreadsheets so that I can answer their questions.

So anyway, I wanted to share with you a sampling of the questions that we get about the experience of being onstage because so many of these are really about feeling connected or losing connection with the audience and losing connection with your message. So here just some just of small small sampling of the questions that felt like they were related to this topic area. The first one is the person just asked, how do I stay focused and how do I work on transitions? You know, how do I transition from one topic to the next? But the first half of their question was how do I stay focused, really stay focused on their message, I'm assuming. And they also probably main stay focused with the audience. Another one, what are the best ways to stay on track and on the message? Another one. How do I get people to actually listen and ponder upon my message?

Another is how do I stay on track and not go off on tangents? How do I stay true to my message? I'm going to give you two more. How do I stay calm right before I'm due to speak. And I know that one is about speaking anxiety, but really it is about loss of connection with your audience and your message, right? It's getting caught up on worrying about yourself. I'm not judging that at all. It happens for most of us, but that's really what it's about. And then the last one I'll share is this person said, I rely too much on notes. Even when I know my stuff. I would love to gain the confidence to be more commanding. I'm looking to gain tips and tricks to overall improve my presentations. So whoever wrote that one, I hope they're listening now cause here is one of my, this whole lit up on stage series is the juiciest richest stuff that I can tell you about how to really be in that place of confidence that always lives in you.

So first, as we think about these questions and this overall question of how do you stay feeling connected to your audience and your message, I want to remind you about our primal brain. Here's the thing. We have this gorgeous human brain and it's, you know, evolved over long, long, long period of time, right? And there are parts of the, of our brain that are primal. And some people call this the lizard brain. I know there are some fancier terms, some more technical terms, but there's just a part of our brain that says, danger, danger. You might die when there's a risk of being ousted from the crowd, right? So if you think way back, and you may have heard me talk about this, but I just want to remind you, this is our brain, our brain, its job is to save our lives, right? So when it sees danger that we might actually die because we've been ousted from the tribe and then a neighboring tribe, remember it's a primal brain might come in and actually kill us and we don't have much protection cause we don't have our people around us to help protect us.

Right? That's how it worked long ago for that primal part of our brain. So it activates that part of our brain just kind of activates and goes up, Oh don't do this. You're putting yourself at risk. And that is really normal. It actually, when you get spinning thoughts or you know you're heightened to energy in your brain, especially if you've never looked at this before, haven't spent a lot of time looking at the distinction between your brain and what else I'm going to talk with you about here today. A little mystery building. When you haven't looked at that, it makes so much sense. It's the most logical thing in the world that your brain does that. And because our brain is really where everything comes to life for us, I mean literally that's where our world, right? We translate what we see. What we hear, what we think through that beautiful brain.

So it makes perfect sense that we have all these feelings and it seems like it matters cause our brain super persuasive. Here's the thing, if you keep looking just to that part of your brain, that thinky part of your brain, the primal part that's saying danger, danger, you're going to die, it's going to get brighter. That's just how our brains work. Wherever we focus, it's like it turns up the lights in that area of our brain, it lights up that content and that thinking, it's exactly how it's supposed to work. It's just an indicator that you're normal. So we get into these habits of thinking really, and our brain loves, it's really efficient and it loves to be efficient. So it'll keep repeating the thing that it's been repeating, right? It doesn't ask any questions. It's not saying, Hey, should we be repeating this? It's just gonna keep doing it for efficiency sake.

It's going to be some deeper part of you. Some other part of you that can look at your thinking and say, Hmm, is that really working for me? So the magic is in looking towards something way more powerful and so much deeper, probably even more primal than any of that thinky brain that you've got going on. So you might think that I'm talking about flat work here, but I'm not talking about that work. And I have done thought work and I've had some really cool insights when doing thought work, but I'm actually talking about something deeper than that. Something that's even more readily available to you right now without really all the work of it. Beneath all of that thinking is a rich current of deep knowing within you. It's a well of wisdom and support and it's where your deepest expertise that you want to bring to the world that you know you're meant to bring to the world.

It's where that deepest expertise gets its richness. It's where that call to serve comes from. So when you look there, the whole energy in your body will shift. It's palpable. Now, I'm not saying, I'm not saying that there's something you have to do. Like you know, if you look there and then you, you know, twirl around three times and you tap your toe twice that then your energy and your body will shift. Or if every single time you look there, you're automatically going to feel peaceful, confident, and ready with no thinky thoughts. That would just be inaccurate. That's not been my experience. So my experience is when I look there and when I look there regularly, when I, now that I've gotten to do that for a while, I can see, I see that clarity, I see that piece, I feel the possibility in it sooner.

It's more readily available and I'm still a human right. So I still have the think you thoughts that might be swirling around up in my brain. If you could see me right now, you'd know that my hands are swirling around near my head. And then when I talk about this deeper place, it's near my heart, solar plexus center of my body. That's just where I feel it. It doesn't live in any particular place. It's in you everywhere. It's of you, it's of all of us, but I want you to know that that's there and the more you look there, the more you will find that clarity and that peace and that connection to your audience and your message that you already have because you're called to do this cause you've know you're meant to change lives with your message. All right, my speaker friend, would you like to work with me on crafting your thought leadership talk, the one that's going to attract those beautiful clients, grow your mission, allow you to make the difference that you know you're meant to make in this world because I would love to support you in doing that and I just added the most amazing retreat.

I mean in real life, beautiful sanctuary retreat. You come to Northern California, we workshop on your talk. We talk about where you're going to speak to, we together. It is going to be beautiful and amazing and I don't know if I'm going to offer this again if this'll be a regular thing. This is kind of a trial. I've done these retreats before, but this is a new format for doing it because you'll get your talk crafted much faster than I've done it before. You're going to have a talk within weeks and then you'll have a chance to practice it with beautiful souls just like you. You must come. I can't wait to tell you more about this. So if you've been thinking about working with me, I'm telling you now is the time, cause this retreat is in November. So we want to start working together now so that you're ready to practice with me and the other beautiful souls that will be there.

So you know where you can learn about this program, The Thought Leadership School, forward slash speak, check it out. See what you think. I actually still have to update that page, so I better go quickly do that now and talk about the retreat there. And then if this sounds interesting to you, just you know, apply like get in touch and let's have a conversation. No pressure ever. I'm here to support you when and if you're ready. So check it out and let me know what you think. Okay. So this is the most important thing that I can tell you and I'm going to keep pointing you back to this well of beautiful support and clarity again and again, it's actually just the only place I know of now to show you where really all that you're looking for lives. And I want to be thoughtful about the way I share this because this isn't about us all sitting on a mountain top and, and you know oming I mean this is about living and regular daily life.

So you're still going to have all of the other interactions and, and the thoughts that come through your mind. But I'm saying you can tap this well any time and you can absolutely tap it when you're walking up onto that stage. When you're standing on that stage and you lose yourself for a minute and you sort of are having trouble connecting with the audience or connecting with your message, that deep clarity, that well of support, clarity and just knowing is always there. So you might be thinking, awesome Michelle. Okay. I'm at the well, it's lovely and cozy and that's not where my audience is too, which I would say, well then let's get them there. But that's for another conversation. So when you are more spacious, you will see your audience. So what I mean by, you know, tapping into this place in you isn't that you turn there and you turn away from your audience and your message.

Of course not right? Like you're made to do this. You're supposed to change a lot of lives. You're building a powerful mission with this message of yours, but when you're more spacious, you can see your audience. You're not caught up in all thinking that's literally blinding you to their beautiful faces, to the people that you're meant to serve. You can look into their eyes and you're thinking isn't blocking that connection. When you aren't swirling with all of those thinky thoughts, you get to pour that message from your heart center right where you hold it. That place in you that knows that place in you, that knows your message. Now, I understand you may not exactly have it articulated and you know that I've done podcasts about that. We talk about that regularly. There are ways to phrase your message that make it even more impactful.

But again, I just want to keep pointing you here the way your heart wants to say it. When you are connected to that spaciousness within you, that clarity is the way to say it. You're the one who knows and it's right there ready for sharing. So I'm wondering if you're thinking to yourself, okay, then what do I do to get to this state of clarity? Cause I know that's what I thought. Lots and lots of times as I was first getting acquainted with this understanding, this way of seeing how we work as humans, I would just, I couldn't help myself. I'm like, okay, I want to go there. I want to live at the well of ease and peace and clarity. What do I do to get there? How do I go to the, well do I meditate? Will EFT tapping do it? But of course I had done all those things.

And by the way, I still love to sit in meditation. I still tap some times for fun because it just kinda, you know, mostly I'll do meditation. I don't do as much tapping anymore, but I will sometimes sit and meditate. It feels really good. I love to go to the ocean. I love to go for walks in nature. So these are all things that I might do. But here's what I know and here's what I want you to know. Those aren't causing that ease and peace and clarity in me. You don't have to do anything. Sometimes going to the beach makes it sort of like more spacious for me. For some reason it might just be a habit that my brain goes, Oh, I'm at the beach. I tend to be more spacious here. I'm not sure, but I know that it doesn't cause it.

Because I have absolutely been staring at that gorgeous, amazing ocean and in a thought storm, a total storm of thinky thoughts. So, and it wasn't causing clarity that day. So I know it's not these external things. You have this, you have access all the time. To this clarity, this peace, which means no matter what's happening for you on that stage, as you're preparing the talk, as you're looking into the eyes of your audience, as you're in that moment on stage where maybe you've forgotten what you were saying, right? You've lost that connection to your message. You have that, you have that spacious and calm within you all the time. All you need to do is remember it and look toward it and you will find more spaciousness. I'm not saying it's going to go perfect, but I'm saying it's there for you all the time.

I was recently preparing for a very last minute speaking opportunity. It was a beautiful group of my ideal clients who have speaking at the top of their lists for not only things they want to do. Many of them are already speakers, but they definitely want to up level their game. These are the best clients for me because my greatest gift is helping people fully say what they want to say, like, like no holds barred with the greatest expression but also in the greatest service. So I love it when people are like, I want to learn who I am as a speaker, how amazing I can be and how much of a difference I can make as a speaker. So I was excited. Right? Can you even hear, I was like, wow, these are going to be so amazing. These are successful entrepreneurs who are making a good lot of money.

They're hanging out with all the cool kids, they're killing it on social media. And my brain just started going like, Oh my gosh, they're gonna see through me. In spite of, you know, my decades of experience in public speaking, I suddenly couldn't see that I was going to be able to help them at all. And you know, then there was the whole cool kid thing. I was just not a cool kid. I never had been a cool kid. I remember once my sisters, I have three sisters, lovely, amazing sisters and GK hoe and Tina shout out to my sisters. They did tell me once, we were on a weekend away, I can't remember why we were altogether away, but I remember we were walking, it was kind of near a beach and one of them said to me, you know, I think you win the award for most turned to cool as an adult.

So I don't know, I guess maybe my coolness factor has increased point as I was all up in my head about was I cool enough, whatever the hell that means, and you know, was I smart enough? Was I going to be able to really serve this beautiful group of people? And the fact that it was a last minute opportunity meant I had very, very little time to prepare. So all my complexes Rose up in my brain and my thinky brain just went on a tirade. Then beautifully, amazingly after I spent a lot of time, like over preparing and doing a lot of the things that we do when our thinky brains on fire, then I remembered that I'm on this earth to help people say what they're trying to say more powerfully to experience full self-expression. That's it. That's, I don't even know why that's my calling, but I do know it's my calling.

And in spite of myself, it's an expertise that I have a couple decades wide now. Right. So I just had this moment of clarity and it does like, I guess oftentimes it'll come in the form of simple thoughts, like, wait a minute, Michelle, you know why you're here. You're here to serve. You're here to help people say what they're trying to say. These are people who have expressed clearly the desire to learn more about how to craft talks that even have greater impact. Yeah. I can help them with that. You know, that the answer to that is simple. Yes, I can help and I'd love to. So I remembered that glimmering well of peace and ease. It sounds a little bit more lovely than it was at the time, but I did. And it was kind of an immediate calming. Oh yeah. And I just showed up and I shared, I sort of set aside everything I had prepared.

Now we can't change the fact that, yeah, I did prepare. So of course that served, but I just kind of set it all aside. It was a wonderful, beautiful exchange. I was super present to them. I was present to my calling and to my message and immediately afterward I got a note from one of the leaders that she'd love to work together and I also got a second speaking opportunity out of it and I was not perfect, right? This was not a perfectly crafted presentation and I definitely didn't have an awesome call to action and the new bliss, all things that I teach, but I showed up and I tapped that place in me that knows. And you have that to that connection to your audience and your message. Those are the most natural things in the world. The only thing in the way for you is a bunch of thinking and since you're human, that's going to keep showing up.

It just does. That's how our brains work. But it doesn't change the fact that underneath that layer of thinking is all of the love and connection that you need to change lives and grow your mission even more than you imagine. The cool thing is, and my experience, the more we look in the direction that I'm talking about into that, well, that little glimmering well, the more quickly we find our way back there when we just get kind of off on one of the things that you thought tirades and there in that quieter space and that spacious space of clarity and knowing that's where you belong as much as possible, making your greatest impact with your beautiful message because you know, you know what I'm about to say, right? You were made for this, my friend. I know that because you know that. So get out there, show up when the think you thoughts rise. You know where to go just to look to that deeper place and I am over here cheering you on as always and excitedly. Looking forward to next week when we're here together again.

Thanks so much for being here with me on The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you want specific and actionable guidance on how to become a recognized leader in your industry, you can download a free copy of my book. Beyond applause, make a meaningful difference through transformational speaking at http://speaksoitmatters.com/freebook.


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