Framing Things In Your Mind

I was reminded again this week about how important it is to frame things in your mind while I was teaching my public speaking class at Georgia Southern University. The assignment was a manuscript reading, where students had to deliver a pre-written speech from the textbook. The purpose was to get students more comfortable delivering a speech in front of an audience, using words that someone else wrote, so that all they had to do was concentrate on getting up in front of the class and speaking for approximately three minutes.

Part of the prep I have students do for each speech is to power pose for two minutes. During this time, I give a pep talk with this advice: “Focus on what you are doing and not on how well you are doing it.”

For extroverts like me, this advice is easy to follow, because this is the mode we operate in most of the time. For introverts, though, it is a different story, as I learned recently from the book, “Quiet” by Susan Cain. She writes, “Extroverts appear to allocate most of their cognitive capacity to the goal at hand, while introverts use up capacity by monitoring how the task is going.”

When I was explaining this to my students, both the extroverts and the introverts knew exactly what I was saying, but the introverts were actually getting a little excited—they were nodding in agreement, and you could almost hear them thinking, “Yes—finally! Someone is acknowledging how my brain works and how I operate in the world.”

The challenge for them, I said, with incredibly sage wisdom, was to, “Stop it!” Just for the three minutes they were doing their speech, I asked them to focus on what they were doing and not on how well they were doing it. This new frame of mind worked like a charm.

You have to believe in what you are doing because how you frame things in your mind is how you present them to the world.

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