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Applying Growth Mindset to Public Speaking

Why do some people fall apart in face of setbacks, while others turn their failures into success? Why are some people obsessed about proving themselves, while others can laugh at and learn from their mistakes?

In the book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’, world-renowned Psychologist Carol Dweck, discovers that the key difference between those two groups of people is their mindset. Through decades of research, Dweck finds that success is not merely down to our intelligence, abilities, and talents. Instead, success is determined by our mindset towards them – whether we have a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset. What is the difference between the two, you ask?

Well, Dweck’s research has found that people with a fixed mindset view intelligence, abilities, and talents as inherently stable and unchangeable. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset (like you) view those traits as changeable and capable of improvement through effort.


Here are some examples to give you a sense of how these mindsets work:

Fixed mindset: I’m either good at something or not. Simple.

Growth mindset: I can get better through effort and practice. I will also speak to people that can help.


Fixed mindset: I’m too shy to do any form of public speaking.

Growth mindset: With practice and the right support, I can become more confident and improve my public speaking skills.


Fixed mindset: I’m already a great speaker and writer. There’s no need for me to get any better.

Growth mindset: There’s always room for improvement.


Fixed mindset: I can’t do that. I keep failing.

Growth mindset: I can’t do that yet. Failure is an opportunity to learn. I will try new strategies, and/or ask for help until I get it right!


Growth mindsets are especially important in times of change and challenge, such as now as you begin this program. Adopt this mindset and you will experience higher levels of personal motivation and performance, improved personal and work relationships, enhanced brain development, and a ‘can do’ attitude on taking risks and striving for stretching goals.


Here are 5 activities to help you develop a growth mindset and improve your public speaking skills:


1. Before any meeting, ask yourself “How can I add value to the discussion?”

I want you to show up and have an impact in every meeting. The question above will cause your brain to go from passive to active mode. You will begin to get ideas on how to contribute to the meeting. Write them down and bring them up in the meeting. The idea here is having a regular practice that causes you to speak regularly.

In case you don’t get any ideas, here are some alternatives that could also work well:

● Introduce yourself if it’s your first time meeting some people

● Ask others how they’re doing

● Compliment others for their work

● Be an encourager to those that are down

Bonus: if the nature of your work permits, you could record yourself talk during the meeting and listen back to it to think about areas of improvement. We can also discuss this together in our weekly 1 to 1 coaching session.


2. Read about a different topic for 5 mins for the next 30 days

A CEO that I once worked for used to say: “Always try to be interesting!”

What he was communicating was that one of the best ways to connect with clients, especially when meeting them for the first time, was to tell them something they don’t know or to find mutual interest through a topic you both care about – whether it be sports, culture, music, art, anything. This creates an immediate connection and breaks any potential walls of resistance ahead of your meeting or work-related project.

By sparing 5 mins to arm yourself with knowledge each day, you are also building a wealth of knowledge that you could reference for any future talk or presentation.


3. Regularly seek feedback

As well as the feedback you will receive over this program, I also want you to actively ask colleagues and friends for feedback whenever you deliver a talk. You could also self-reflect by asking yourself the following questions:

What went well?

What didn’t?

What might be the reasons for this?

How do I feel about it?

What might I do differently next time?


4. Watch short TED talks over lunch or dinner for the next 30 days

TED talks are a great way to learn about an interesting topic while also learning public speaking skills. The next time you have lunch or dinner, put on a TED talk, and observe the speaker’s public speaking skills.

What could you learn from them for your own speaking?

What are their strengths and weaknesses?


5. Make a short voice note to yourself at the end of each day on Wins and Lessons for that day

This is one of my favorites and can be as short as you’d like it to be. Spare 2 to 3 mins at the end of each day and record a voice note about your day. Using the feedback questions above, ask yourself:

What went well?

What didn’t?

What might be the reasons for this?

How do I feel about it?

What might I do differently next time?

This will allow you to reflect about your own personal development while also allowing you to practice your speaking – all for just 2 to 3 mins!


I’d recommend focusing on 1 or 2 activities to begin with and then add others over time. It’s entirely up to you. What’s important is doing something rather than nothing.

Remember: Commitment is paramount to seeing results.

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