You’ve likely heard the saying often attributed to Henry Ford, “Whether you believe you can or can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

And I think this is terribly insightful and important when developing your personal effectiveness.

I can’t tell you how often I come across people who say things like, “I’m just no good at public speaking.” This is a big obstacle for a lot of people.

And here’s the problem with the belief that you’re not good at public speaking…you’ll likely create more of what you expect in the future. This is the big problem with negative beliefs about ourselves, they reinforce what we expect to achieve and they limit us.

You can easily get into a negative spiral. You think you’re not good at public speaking, you give a speech that doesn’t go great and it reinforces and strengthens that limiting belief. How do you think your next speech is going to go?

Top performers hold positive beliefs about themselves. Their high self-esteem makes it possible for them to expect positive outcomes to the things they set out to achieve.

If you’re not there yet, give this a try. Going back to the public speaking example.


Start small and set a goal that you can achieve in a related area so that you can begin to build your confidence in your target area. For example, if you doubt your speaking skills, but you believe that you are good conversationalist. What you want to do is start by having a great conversation with one person. Allow this to reinforce what a great conversationalist you are.

Now have a great conversation with two people, three people, and keep on going have great conversations with larger and larger groups until you can’t help be conclude that you are a skilled communicator no matter the size of the group.

Isn’t that what speaking is anyways? Have a conversation with a few hundred new friends!

Your boost in confidence will have you ready for the next challenge, like a short presentation to a small group of supportive friends. Get yourself properly prepared, get the knowledge, skills and abilities you need to take each small step so you can keep setting and achieving these goals and soon you’ll find that you are a good public speaker. And most importantly, you will believe in yourself as a speaker.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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