What do you see?

What do you see when you look at this picture?

And how does this match to reality?

What I know for a fact is that these are boxes, made of wood, complete with knots. They also have handles cut into them, so that I can move them easily when I am using them for workouts.

This is also not what most of us would see first. Far more likely, we would see a face, and an unhappy one at that.

And there is good reason for this. It serves us well as humans to scan our environment for other people – to see and try to read faces. Many of us rely heavily on this visual feedback in our everyday lives. I know that I do.

When it comes to speaking in public, however, there are a number of factors that can change our ability to do this with any useful degree of accuracy.

We might be in a venue where the stage is brightly lit and the ‘house lights’ are down. The audience will become shapes, or a blur of darkness, and we will not be able see facial expressions.

Or we might be in a lit meeting room, but find that the scenario of ‘all eyes on us’ ramps up our feeling of being judged, to the point where we lose all objectivity. We read ‘concentration’ as someone ‘disliking our talk and everything about us’.

Why I highlight this is because there is power in acknowledging that when we speak in public there are so many external factors that can make it feel ‘unnatural’. There is nothing wrong with you if you feel thrown, or self-conscious or uncomfortable.

What is worth knowing is that there are practical strategies for dealing with all of these factors. It is a process of adjustment, but one that will actually equip you with skills that you can transfer into other parts of your life. I promise.

What’s more, if you are curious person you’ll find the process highlights some really fascinating aspects of what it is to be human: how we connect; how we respond. Why we see faces in boxes.