Words matter. They are the bricks with which we build identity and hope and with those, a productive life. This illuminating experiment has an interesting message for us all.
Ikea wanted young people to think about the impact of bullying. They displayed two identical house plants in enclosed containers in schools and piped recorded voices to them 24/7 for 30 days.
One plant got only loving, appreciating messages. The other was bullied. Whoever walked by could watch the messages do their work. Young people were allowed to record some of the messages themselves.
At the end of the experiment, the loved plant had grown and was thriving. The bullied plant appeared to be dying.
Was this science? Not really. There was no control and we don’t know if other factors may have been at play. We don’t really know scientifically what happened there. But, it is curious. And, it does get one thinking about …
The Impact Of Our Words
Public Speaking is a particularly stressful activity and very few begin it feeling enthusiastic and confident. Most jump right into self-criticism … self-bullying, self-creating the Public Speaking equivalent of the wilted plant. That’s not good!
The way we speak to ourselves is just as powerful, if not more so, than the way we speak to others. The way we define our last presentation directly shapes the energy and confidence we will, or won’t bring to the next one. Deem one a failure and the next one will be. How to stop the self-bullying loop?
Find A Success In Every Presentation
Let that set you up for the next.
Did you make particularly good eye contact, even if you flubbed the data? Great! You made good eye contact! Yes … there was the data … but, you made good eye contact!! Did you start moving more comfortably even if you didn’t fully answer that question? Yay!! You’re moving more comfortably. The more you practice and get comfortable with moving, the less distracted you’ll be and more you can focus on the questions.
Every presentation is a step in creating yourself as a speaker, and that step is as strong as you make it. Call yourself a learner and define your speech performance based on the things you did well, then get to work planning the next one. Sure, work on the issues; they will be temporary. But, find the positive and make that your name.
Try to remember the Ikea experiment. Be kind to others and to yourself. Your success as a speaker (and as a human) may depend on using the words you say to yourself to build the beauty of you.