Find a speaker on confidence, self-esteem, self-worth. In her Confidence Keynote, Penny Haslam tackles the issue of low self-esteem with a potent yet simple three-step plan.
She believes that confidence isn't just a personal struggle but a people problem that we can all work to resolve.
Audiences have described Penny's talk as "enlightening, hilarious, and life-changing." She weaves in personal stories, including her challenges as a live TV news presenter and her role in a national weight loss campaign.
Attendees leave Penny's talk equipped with practical, actionable steps to immediately begin enhancing their own and others' self-confidence.
Transcript - Penny Haslam's Confidence Keynote - Find a speaker on confidence, self-esteem, self-worth
I'm Penny Haslam and I have been fascinated with confidence, self-esteem and self-worth for the last 20 years. Why? Well, partly it's been a main bit of my job. I used to be a BBC Radio 4 producer with a lot of stress, working on a personal finance programme. And then I was on live television as a presenter on BBC Breakfast and the News Channel. Now, as a professional speaker, I need confidence, to get up on stage strut.
Self-confidence and self-esteem can vanish
Yeah, but it annoys me. Confidence really annoys me because one day I'll have it, and the next day it'll have gone. I kind of grapple with it.
These days, I also coach and train people to help them raise their profile, appear in the media, speak on stage, or be a really good participant in a panel discussion.
A lack of self-belief can effect everyone
The issue of confidence comes up in those sessions, people always say to me, "Where did you get the confidence to do this in the first place?" And it's not just people at a junior level, either.
I was working with the chief executive of a national recruitment firm the other day and I was helping him think about appearing on a panel discussion in London.
We were going through the processes of how he could communicate what he has to say, so the audience is interested in what he's saying and how to make him compelling. He put his pen down and he said to me, "Do you know what? Who am I? Who am I to be on that panel talking like an expert when the other people on the panel are so much more expert than me? "
I said, well, who are you not to be? You're gonna have to get on with it and he did, and it was fine. But for someone at that level to be saying confidence is eluding me is fascinating. I think it's real evidence of our appetite to learn more about this topic that you've all turned up today.
It's been a record number. I don't think it's the speaker. I think it's the topic, we could all do with a boost of self-belief. Yeah?
By Penny Haslam
MD and Founder - Bit Famous
Penny Haslam is one of the most sought-after female motivational speakers in the UK with her talks on communication and confidence. She runs group executive coaching programmes for women and is the author of two business books, Make Yourself a Little Bit Famous, and Panel Discussions - The Ultimate Guide.
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I've never been a confident person, I lack self-belief
You might be one of those people who say, "Oh, I lack confidence. I was never a very confident person. I'm lacking confidence." And that's fine. You're gonna get lots out of today. Or it might be that you're like me confident one day. Yeah, thinking I'm gonna change the world, look at me. Yeah, world, come on. And then the next day, I'm like, Oh, I, I didn't mean that. Not really sure. So looking at my shoes a bit, I'll just do that another day.
Or it might be that you're full of self-confidence most of the time, but there are certain settings that kind of undermine you. You might be dodging a difficult conversation. You might find yourself in a new environment where you're not sure of yourself, and that annoys you.
Or it might just be that you know, people on your team or in your business who need a boost. So anything that I say today, you can take to them and share with them, you can use all the steps that I'm about to show you. Or you can just use one or two or none.
No one is confident 100% of the time
Hands up, who doesn't need any steps to confidence and who is 100% confident all of the time? No. Ok, well, you're in very good company then.
My three steps to confidence and self-belief
Let's get started. I'm gonna show you my three steps to confidence. I say steps. They sound logical like I plan them. No, this is drawing on years of experience of being in a position where I had to find confidence and often it would elude me and often it would bring me down. It would undermine me. I really hungered for it. This is a distillation of that experience on my crazy paving path to confidence.
Step 1 to building confidence, self-worth and self-esteem: Take action to identify and confront your negative self-talk
Step one, ice negative self-talk. Who here has heard of self-talk? Put your hand up OK. And for the rest of you sitting there saying to yourself, "I don't know what she's going on about", that's self-talk.
Self-talk is an internal dialogue. We have this narrative, this useful voice. It tells us where we are in the world who we are, whether it's warm outside, whether we need to put a coat on without having to verbalise it all the time.
It's actually a thing that we learn at a very young age. Negative self-talk is part of that but is quite nasty. Pernicious, it can be quite vile sometimes.
Speaking to yourself in a negative way
Does anyone speak to themselves in a negative way?
"Oh, why did you put those gold trainers on stupid woman?" Or, "What was I wearing that hat for the other day? I looked like an idiot." Maybe, "Did you really say that last night? Did you? Oh, God, I can't believe you said that."
Negative self-talk is a hang-over from our brain's old operating system
We fill our brains with this kind of negative chat, chipping away at our confidence. And there's a reason for it. Before I tell you about icing negative self-talk. Let me tell you about why we have negative self-talk in the first place. It goes back to the way early humans had to think to stay alive, fight or flight.
As humans, we remember the one negative comment out of thousands of positive ones
We can't shake it off, can we? It's this thing. And that's why we remember the one comment out of the other millions of comments that were fabulous. We remember the one comment where it wasn't quite nice. It wasn't particularly supportive and we remember it and we'll remember it five years later. We forget the good stuff and quite often we hang on to the bad stuff.
We love the news because it's negative. Negativity tells us what to do so we can survive.
That's why we like the news. So we know what to do. Negativity tells us what to do. We know how to act, we know how to fight and we know how to fly away from it.
Cavemen and women had negative self-talk
Consider a time when we all lived in caves, right? Caveman and cavewoman. They had that fight-or-flight instinct. They needed it, didn't they?
Imagine a caveman and cavewoman going to bed at night, on the floor, or wherever they sleep. They're getting ready to go to bed. They're cleaning their teeth with a twig, and they're getting under the covers.
It's been a It's been a shocker of a day. The kids have been really naughty, been drawing on the walls, but everyone's been drawing on the walls, getting under the woolly mammoth duvet cover.
He's got his dinosaur pyjamas on and they're about to go to sleep. They're just snoozing off and they hear a rustle at the cave door opening...
Quick aside - I dreamt I was a cavewoman
In fact, while I'm talking about cavepeople, I had a dream once, God's honest truth, that I was a cavewoman. I dreamt I was smashing rocks up because that's what cave people do, isn't it?
So I was down here (crouching) getting these big boulders and bashing them. There was no other noise than the grunt of labour happening, hard labour on the beach. I thought to myself, "Oh, God, we've got to get language soon!" So that was my dream. How bizarre is that?
Back in the cave - Quick grab the rocks!
Anyway, back to the cave with the caveman and cavewoman. They're about to go to bed and they hear a rustle at the cave opening. They jump up, and they say, "Quick, grab the rocks. Protect the kids. It's bound to be a sabre-toothed tiger," right? They don't lie there saying, "Oh, I'm so glad we live in the countryside. You can hear the rustle of the leaves of the trees at night. Isn't it lovely, darling? Yes, it's lovely. Good night, dear."
No, they don't. They're up and they're at, em and it happens today. An email arrives. It's from a client or your boss and you think, "Oh, what do they want now? What have I done wrong?"
Our brains are hardwired to jump to the negative
Negative, instantaneously, negative. Our brains are hardwired to go to the negative. It's an old operating system. It's out of date. It's not useful or supportive.
ICE negative self-talk
So icing negative self-talk. I had to ice negative self-talk because I had a really damaging case of it. When I first started at the BBC, I was a secretary and I worked my way up. I typed my way up. Some people say I slept my way up. Eight hours a night in nice pyjamas. Thank you very much.
I worked my way up. I was ambitious and I wanted to do more. And I found myself finally in BBC Broadcasting House, producing a radio four programme called Money Box. Has anyone heard of Money Box? Great. You listen to it. Yeah. Radio 4. Saturday lunchtime. Do you understand it? I didn't. So I arrived there and everyone knew about personal finance news. And the personal finance news is pretty tough.
Actually, you have to be really alive to the story, the twists and the turns. It's exciting for some people, but quite boring for most of us. OK? And I arrived knowing about student loans, overdrafts, rents, you know, unauthorised overdrafts, credit card debt, that sort of thing. So I was bringing a kind of other angle to the investments and stocks and shares and laying down of wine as an investment which the rest of the team knew about. I was like, right, OK, I've got this top job. It's gonna be brilliant.
My out-of-control negative self-talk
That's when my negative self-talk went out of control. I'd be just going to catch the bus to work. I'd be sitting there minding my own business and all of a sudden a voice popped into my head, (irritating voice) "Oh, off to broadcasting house, are you? What are you going in there for? You don't belong there."
Then I'd be at my desk making a phone call, say, to a press office of a big company or a department of government and my negative self-talk would say, "Oh, yeah, you think you know what you're doing? You look like you know what you're doing, but you don't."
Or in the studio, I'd have faders and microphones up and be interviewing somebody, and I'd be asking them questions and seriously, negative self-talk was saying. "Oh, your questions aren't very good."
Don't let negative self-talk stop you from enjoying your success
Honestly, it was on all the time, all the time. Negative, negative, negative. Doing me down. It annoyed me. It really, really annoyed me. And it meant that I couldn't. I couldn't enjoy my success, actually, because it was taking away from that. And I couldn't think about my future because I had my head full of this negativity. It was cluttering up my head space so I couldn't enjoy my present and I couldn't look to the future and think about being ambitious. It was a drag. It really was.
Take on negative self-talk to boost your confidence, self-worth and self-esteem
So I kind of I kind of got the idea that this wasn't me. I got so annoyed with it. I thought this isn't me. Who's this? This is dragging me down.
Ask yourself, when was I at my most confident?
It's not healthy, and it's not useful. What am I gonna do about it? So I had a bit of a think and I thought back to a time when I was actually really confident.
I used to work as a nurse, I had quite a senior role in a small cottage hospital. And I love my job. I was in the flow. I knew what I was doing. I had great, you know, colleagues and people around me. And in fact, I've got a picture from that time. (Penny as a child dressed as a nurse.)
That's when I worked as a nurse and I had supreme confidence, and it's not surprising. I was well supported. I had great training and resources. I had this industry magazine that came through the post once a week. 16 pence it cost.
I read it and I read it. And inside it had helpful nurse Susan and doctor David. (Images from a comic.) Experts who could share their knowledge with me. And I had all my teddies lined up against the skirting board in shoe boxes with my dad's hankies over them.
You know, we did what we could with what we had, and I loved it. And I think you've got to be aware of this stuff. So that was the time when I was confident, I didn't have negative self-talk.
Boost confidence by naming your negative self-talk
In the process of identifying this self-talk, I thought, I'll give it a name because it's not me. I will call this voice Self-talk Sybil!
"Oh, hi, Sybil. You're back?"
"Yeah, I'm gonna follow you around."
"No, you're not, go away Sybil, get off the bus!"
I actually confronted it, I identified Self-talk Sybil. Or bring-me-down Brian. Run-me-around Rita. Name your own self-talk any way you like, but if you identify it, you can begin to talk back to it.
"You're out of date Sybil. You're useless. You are an old operating system."
And finally, over time, I was able to extinguish Sybil. She pops up every now and again. Constant vigilance on your negative self-talk is needed.
Sometimes she pops up when I'm playing Candy Crush late at night, I'm moving coloured Candies around the screen and Sybil says,
"Oh, you're not very strategic, are you?"
So ICE your negative self-talk. Identify. Confront, Extinguish negative self-talk.
It's really really useful. And ice is powerful, isn't it? Imagine a gin and tonic without it! So powerful. The captain of the Titanic knew how powerful it was as well!
So ice is powerful. ICE, Identify Confront and Extinguish. And, of course, ice helps reduce pain and inflammation.
So that's step one more of a mindset, isn't it? Getting into your mind and taking something out of it that's no longer working for you. It's about getting rid of your self-talk.
But what about your skillset?
Boost confidence with the power of "Yet"
Well, this is something I hadn't learned in my crazy paving path to confidence. It was how to be a Yeti. I'm not talking about the mythical creature from Scooby Doo.
Not that, and it's more like, uh, a Yogi, so daily practice is required to be really good at this.
I came across a block in my career. Having dealt with self-talk, I was able to free up my brain to be more ambitious and more future thinking, planning my career.
And it so happened that I got a call from the television people. I was on the radio, and I got a call one day at my desk when I was on BBC Money Box.
"Hi. We'd like you to present a programme, it's the flagship BBC One investigative prime time show Panorama."
They asked me to present a Panorama on pensions. So I checked my diary. Yes, I'm free.
I decided that I would do this. But I was absolutely stressed and didn't know what to wear and stuff like that. But I did it and it went OK.
I can't do live TV. Yet
As a result, I was asked to be the business presenter on the BBC News Channel. You know, the person who comes on every hour and they stand in front of a board and the footsie's up, the footsie's down. What's the footie? And who cares?
So it's a bit of that. And then BBC Breakfast asked me if I would step in and be the business slot presenter there, you know, around the high coffee table.
Good morning. Yeah, that one. So I did that. Brilliant. I didn't know how to. No one taught me. No one reassured me that I was doing a good job.
Live TV, like driving a car at 100mph without any lessons
I was out of my depth. It was like sitting in a car that I'd never driven before, having had no lessons, on a motorway, going 100 miles an hour. Live television in the morning, is very challenging.
And there I am on the red sofa, with Louise Minchin and Charlie State, and I'm doing what's called the newspaper Review at 6:17am. I mean, who can even read the Financial Times at 6:17 in the morning?
I can't do it
The newspaper business review is this, you rattle through three headlines and talk about the economic impact of each headline in a minute. And I would say to myself,
"I can't do that. I can't do it. I can't do it."
But somehow I did it. I got through, but I couldn't do it. I can't do that.
Even walking and talking on TV is a challenge
Then there was walking and talking, doing an outside broadcast, walking and talking to the camera! Sounds simple, doesn't it? But there's actually a trick to it where you have to start. No, sorry. Do that again. You have to start walking before you start talking. Oh, it's these things that you don't know!
I can't do outside broadcasts can't do them. I can't do them. Oh, and this was really stressful. What was really unhelpful as well as you can imagine, in my ear was talkback earpiece, so I could hear the full TV studio gallery. You know, the gallery. You see, all the screens and the sort of dimly lit room and the faders and the dials and busy people and the producer is in there. The director. There are some researchers. There's a sound person. There are lots of people coming in and out all the time. It's busy and you can hear every word of it.
You can hear your interviewee but also hear the gallery people as well, and they're talking about the next item. What's coming up later, and they're also doing that thing where they go.
"Oh, morning. Jeff."
"Yeah? Do you have a nice half term?"
"Yeah. Kids all right? I'm getting a coffee."
"Does anyone want one?"
I'm thinking "Shut up, I'm trying to listen to my guest" and then they'll tell me something like:
"Go to camera three when you finish with Christine Penny."
I'll be like, oh, I can't do that. I can't do live television. I haven't learned how to be a yeti.
Can't do something, become a "Yeti" by adding the word yet to closed statements
If I'd added "yet" to the end of my closed defined statements, it would have just opened a door for me.
I can't do walk and talk.. Yet. But I'll practice.
I can't do live outside broadcasts... Yet. But I'll ask for help.
I can't do newspaper reviews... Yet. But I know I'll get better.
I would have felt lighter and more encouraged because then I could have gone on to do something about it. Is there anyone here who can't do anything or tells themselves I can't do this, that and the other? You're all brilliant. Well done. Absolutely brilliant.
"I can't run. I can't run, yet."
"I can't lose weight, yet."
"I can't have that conversation with that client just yet."
And so it goes. I'm gonna add the word yet and you can!
I can't touch type yet. I'm gonna really concentrate next time. I'm trying.
I can't speak French yet. I'm gonna get lessons and so on. And so it builds.
Adding the word yet to closed statements opens up new possibilities
It opens those opportunities to people. So if you've got someone on your team going, I can't do it. In fact, I had someone on my team who would say this a lot.
The under 13s Lymm Rovers girl's football team? Yeah, that's our Monday night training session. It was the one before Christmas. I don't wear that every Monday night.
(Penny in Santa outfit with girls.)
So I'm standing there and we're about to do our training. And I know nothing about football, and I'm not sure if I want to, by the way! You don't have to add "yet" to everything!
I mean, I can't bake, I don't care. So I'm not gonna add yet to that.
Anyway, we're there, and we've got one girl who is a bit of a moaner. She'd be learning some new skills and she'd come over to me and say,
"I can't do this, uh!", and run away.
The next time she came along, I said, "You can't do this, YET!"
And a little light went on in her eyes!
So yeah, yet is a really powerful skill set tool to add to anything that you say you can't do.
Step one, getting rid of your negative self-talk.
Step two be a yeti, be a yeti.
Step three It's more about the deep stuff, more about your values.
Boost confidence, self-belief and self-worth by understanding what you stand for, what are your Val-Yous?
I've spelt it like that, Val-Yous, intentionally I'm not just crap at spelling the word values. What are your values?
We hear about corporate values a lot, don't we? And we think, Oh, I stick to the company values. Or, if I'm setting up a business, I've got to have some values, a mission statement.
But do we ever stop to think about our values?
So I was challenged about this, I was asked about my values. It came around at a time when I was changing jobs again. I'd gone from radio to TV. I was on TV and I wasn't really feeling it. I wasn't feeling what I thought I should be feeling. I mean, the glamour of being on breakfast television, but it wasn't exciting to me.
The BBC is a large organisation. It's sink or swim sometimes at a certain level and I just wasn't loving it.
It came home to me one time because I asked an editor of the news channel, can you give me some feedback on how I'm doing? I want to improve. I wanna be really good at this. I wanna make sure that I'm doing a good job for you. And he said;
I don't know if you're some bimbo who just reads the autocue
"Can you give me some feedback?"
And he looked me up and down.
"I don't know. I don't know if you're some bimbo who just reads the autocue or whether you actually know what you're talking about."
And with that, he left and I thought, do you know what? This is not for me anymore. This is not what I want, but I hadn't quite found what I did want. Until guess what? Phone rang. Oh, hi! An organisation asked me if I would appear in a national advertising campaign by Saatchi & Saatchi for a national weight loss company.
I became a Weight Watchers ambassador
Not just any weight loss company. Weight Watchers. I mean, Oprah Winfrey owns a bit of that. It's all right, isn't it?
So who would I be in this advert with? Would I be on my own? Because surely I'm not enough of a celebrity, I'm just a news reader.
It was Patsy Kensit and that bloke off of MasterChef. Greg Wallace.
I said, "Yeah, I'll check my diary. Oh, I'm free."
I would do anything for weight loss, but I won't do that!
And off I went again onto a new world, a new horizon. I left the BBC behind and started having fun and started being asked what I wanted. What I would, or would not do in this advert, right?
They literally asked me, what won't you do? And I said, "I won't do that," because I thought it was a funny Meatloaf joke!
I said, you know what? I won't walk through a kitchen eating a yoghurt, because that's what weight loss adverts show, isn't it?
Oh, so delicious. I've lost so much weight. I won't do that. It's rubbish, OK?
And I've kind of taken inspiration from an internet, campaign called Women Laughing Alone into salads. Don't believe me. Let me show you. (Image of a woman laughing and holding a salad.)
We see this all the time. No one laughs into salads on their own, Do they? Do they? I'm not doing that kind of stuff. I'm just not.
So my advert was brilliant. It was in the workplace. It was a TV studio setting. It was about losing weight on the Weight Watchers app because I'm busy, blah, blah, blah.
And then they went right. Your adverts really played out well. Patsy is doing ok, but we reckon the two of you should make another advert together. Ok, All right. Yes, please. No problem. And so we went to this meeting, with Saatchi & Saatchi in this posh hotel in London, a private room on the sofa.
We won't eat cake, we're on a diet
Hello, Saatchi and Saatchi. There was Weight Watchers, the mighty client. OK, and there was Patsy and there was me. And we get given the script and we look through it. We look through the script. Oh, right, OK, this is what they're proposing to me and Patsy.
And the script was me and Patsy in her kitchen. Patsy's making a cake. I'm sitting at her island having dropped around and we're smugly laughing about how thin we are and how fabulous we are.
I looked at this script and I thought, Oh, I won't do that. I don't want to do that because, for me, women are so much more than just cake makers in kitchens laughing about how thin they are.
Really? We're strong, We're funny. We're hard-working. We've got busy lives. We've got responsibilities. We are fantastic.
Don't stuff us into kitchens again!
Don't stuff us into kitchens again. I wanted to break that stereotype. I really did. But obviously, I'm with the mighty Saatchi's and they've written the script. I can't offend them. No. Really? Really? No. So I have to edge into this and go.
"I don't really think me and Patsy are that kind of people. We're single parents. We've got busy lives. We wouldn't have time, would we? To go hanging around kitchens with each other. We don't even know each other."
And Patsy, bless her, piped up. "I'm not having this. This is outrageous. I'm not going back into the kitchen. Plus, the continuity issues are going to be a nightmare!"
She knew what she was doing. So anyway, the two of us lifted this script away from the clutches of Weight Watchers and suggested that we sit in a coffee house together because we're busy, hard-working, funny, single parents with responsibilities, just catching at five minutes with each other, like women do.
Another career change
Now, a little while after this, I set up in business to help people raise their profile to get them on TV and radio and all that kind of stuff and do speaking as a profession.
And I was asked by someone at a networking event what my values were. I went, "Uh well, um professionalism? Um." I couldn't find them because I wasn't a corporation!
She said, "What about your values?"
Because I'd been fetching for something like this, (Image of a hospital notice board with the organisation's values.) thinking that's what she meant.
If we zoom in on the values bit, this is at a hospital. Last year I had an operation on my ankle and I had to go back regularly, and I saw this kind of laminated motivational stuff on the walls.
If we look at the values there. I'm not sure I would feel any of those. They're not my values, because I don't know what "one team" means to me.
Boost self-belief by finding your values
So when she asked me this question, I thought, I'll just pop my values down on a post-it note.
(The note says: "Bold, Brave, Strong, Love, Fun")
And it's just things that are relevant to me that help me.
What about you? What are your values? What would you stand by? Humility, honesty, community, kindness?
There are loads of values to think about. So stick them on a Post-it. What do you stand for? And how can that help you get more confident in settings where you perhaps aren't confident?
If you remember who you are, what your values are and what you stand up for, then confidence comes anyway
Find your deep-down stuff.
OK, so those are the three steps.
I choose confidence
Throughout my career, I've been building and working on my confidence. I've talked about business the whole time and work and career. But there was an area of my life which was sorely lacking, shall we say, And I needed to work on that.
And so choosing confidence in this circumstance was a beautiful thing. So 20 years ago, when I first started on the radio, I met a man, a colleague, not just any man. A colleague in the newsroom of a radio station and our eyes met across a fax machine and I got introduced to him, shook his hand. And when I shook his hand Oh, he was lovely. Do you know what I mean? I felt like I'd come home. I really did. 20 years ago. So did 20 years ago.
Did anything come of that moment of electricity that we felt between us in this newsroom? Oh, no. You can't be going along with a nice man like that. He's kind. He's lovely. He's good-looking looking handsome. He's never gonna like you.
So we remained friends. Slightly awkward friends. I fancy my friend, but I can't say anything because he'll never fancy me, kind of friend.
15 years ago. Did we get together? No, I've known him a long time. Then 12 years ago when he suddenly became available, I chose confidence.
I chose to sit him down and tell him after several glasses of wine. I chose to tell him that we should be going out with each other. And he said, Yes, we should. And then a few years after that, I sat him down and said, We should be getting married. I like to think that he asked me, but I did actually set it up. And then we got married, and I've chosen to be confident around that.
I'd chosen to ICE negative self-talk. I'd chosen to be a Yeti in the skills that I needed. I'd chosen the Val-Yous, the deep stuff about being brave and bold, and that really stood me in good stead, because I could, and it was awesome.
If any of this has resonated with you today in any aspect of your life, just try and remember these steps. Try and apply them.
Try and be conscious about what it is. Yesterday was International Happiness Day. Oh God, it's effort. It's a lot of effort that isn't it. What's wrong with International Good Enough Day? That would be my kind of day, I have to say, and it's wonderful.
Confidence trumps happiness
It really is to be thinking along those lines. I say confidence trumps happiness because when you're confident you can choose to find happiness, you can seek it in the places that you most know will work for you.
You can't just be happy. You have to have the confidence to find it, and it trumps ambition because you can't be ambitious unless you've got the confidence to know that you can do it.
Confidence trumps all of those things. I think it's the rock bed of our humanity. Confidence confident leaders know when they don't know what's going on. Unlike in Parliament right now, they're useful. Confidence is useful, So please use these steps to make yourself a little more confident. Thank you very much, OK.