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The Simon Cowell of the Psyche


For you comics and speakers who stand in front of audiences, I'm sure you have all experienced: the inner critical voice. You know what I mean? The little voice that packs a big punch giving you an inner, blow by blow Simon Cowell commentary on your set, while you are doing your set. It s the inner voice that chastises you when you don t think of an absolutely brilliant comeback to a heckler; the voice that tells you that everyone hates you need a joke gets no reaction; the voice that interrupts your show to let you know that you are failing.

Whatever made you think that that was funny? They hate you! Well, you've really lost them now. The great acting teacher, the legionary Stanislavski said this to an actor, If you feel it and the audience feels it, that s good. If you feel it and the audience doesn t, that s bad. But if you don't feel it and the audience does, that's good too. Really? Can a performer so misgauge their own perception of how a show is going? Yes. Your inner critic is probably wrong most of the time.

I had a real test of this when my best friend saw my speech last weekend for John Deere in Palm Springs. It was a difficult gig as it was outside, so I couldn t hear the laughs. During the first 20 minutes, my inner critic was going at full blast. I felt unconnected to the audience, awkward, and my material felt stale. Around the half way point, I hit new material that I felt connected to and the voice finally stopped.

Afterwards I asked my friend who has heard me speak many times if she noticed how awkward the first part was. She told me that not only couldn t tell, but she was surprised at my perception as she thought that I got everyone engaged right at the start.

So, it helps to know that that voice is not reality. It rarely is. If your inner critic is telling you that everyone hates you, ignore it as nobody really cares enough about a speaker or a comic to hate them. Indifference yes, but rarely hate.

Judy Carter teaches speaking and standup comedy workshops. She is the author of The Comedy Bible as well as Speaking Career in a Box DVD series and workshop on how to earn six figures in the professional speaking profession.

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.