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Communication Tip: Affirming Success

Affirmations work! I have seen their effectiveness from my own experience as well as from the successes of athletes, performers, and many others who used this technique.

An affirmation is a positive statement that we make about ourselves. We repeat that statement daily. (What works best is to repeat that statement several times in the morning and again at night for at least 21 days.) As we repeat the affirmation, we begin to believe it about ourselves, and we find ourselves acting in ways that are consistent with that belief.

People have used affirmations to lose weight, find jobs, and improve their golf swing. You can also use them to improve your public speaking skills. Here are a few that you can use:

  • I feel perfectly at home in front of an audience. I find public speaking comfortable and fun!
  • I speak eloquently and confidently. The right words flow through me clearly and audibly.
  • I organize and present my ideas so my listeners can readily understand and accept them.
  • Confidence and enthusiasm radiate through me. I know what I am doing, and I enjoy what I do!
  • I open myself to others’ feedback. I embrace it and use it to improve myself as a speaker.

Here are some tips to help you write your own affirmations:

  • Put your affirmations in the present tense. When you believe that you have the skills you seek, you will act as though you have them even if they are not fully developed at the moment. If you phrase the affirmation in the future tense, it reinforces that you do not have the skill you seek, and its accomplishment is in a future that may or may not happen.
  • Focus on the positive skills you want, not the problems you have right now. “I do not stutter” only focuses on and reinforces the problem instead of moving you away from it. By saying, “I speak eloquently,” you offer a trait to replace the behavior you want to eliminate.
  • Be specific. Describe exactly what you want to accomplish so that you can sense and experience what it is like to accomplish what you want.
  • Be brief. By keeping your affirmations short, you make them easy to remember and to reinforce in your mind.
  • Focus on you and what you can do. You cannot affirm that others will agree with every word you say, but you can affirm how you will handle challenging situations as they arise.

If you consider affirmations too New Age-y, mere mind tricks to pump up salespeople, or downright simple-minded and silly, keep in mind that we use affirmations all the time without us being conscious of them. Unfortunately, they are usually negative. How many times have you caught yourself saying things like “I’ll never speak in public. It’s just too scary!” Or “No one listens to me. I’m just not attractive or assertive enough.” These are affirmations as well because you repeat them to yourself, which discourages you from speaking (and lots of other things). If you are going to speak to yourself anyway, why not make the things you say encouraging and constructive?

If you still do not want to use affirmations because you feel they do not fit your religious beliefs, look for a prayer or scriptural passage that fits what you want to affirm. Psalm 23 is excellent for when you need strength to speak to a hostile audience. Also look at Exodus 4:10–12, which ends with “Now go [said the Lord to Moses]; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (NIV)

Give affirmations a try. You too will be convinced when you see the improvements that they make in your life.

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