Act “As If”: Because the Only Thing We Control is Ourselves

Lately, A Feeling of Control is Hard to Come By…

Like many people, I like thinking that I’m in control—of myself, of my prospects, of my own life.

But with the unchecked pandemic, the coming climate chaos, the near-collapse of our economy (because Wall Street is not the economy!), this insane back-to-school season, our endangered election, and more, the illusion of control has been wearing pretty thin.

Yet the research is clear: Humans do best when we have some control. That’s why we work harder and better on things that we choose, and why being micromanaged is so destructive for people’s mental and physical health.

Wanting some control is a human thing.

…So We Need to Act “As If”

Acting “as if” is a form of make-believe where we first convince ourselves, and then convince others that—in spite of the unnerving reality around us—we still have at least some agency in our own lives.

And while this self-persuasion process may sound a little shady, the ability to act “as if” is what allows us to stay motivated, keep slogging, and hopefully create a new reality.

It’s a healthy adaptation, somewhat like persuading your kid that you want to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 400th time.

How do you learn to do this?

Acting “As If” Is a Public Speaking Skill

That’s because public speaking—especially the kind where you’re put on the spot by your boss, as a presenter, or while interviewing for a job—is an extended exercise in acting “as if.”

Even the most experienced public speakers act “as if”: 

  • they’re not nervous (and they don’t have any of those pesky symptoms of fear)
  • they’re not feeling self-conscious
  • they know everything there is to know about the topic on which they’re speaking
  • they’ve spent more than enough time preparing

The ability to act “as if” we’re confident and prepared can help in every area of our currently chaotic lives…and so can the ability to communicate more clearly.

You Recommend Public Speaking??


It’s especially hard to feel in control, to connect with people, to make an impact in this chaotic moment because we’re operating virtually. So the ability to speak with confidence and authority gives us two benefits for the work of one. Public speaker training:

  • Teaches us to act “as if,” and
  • Helps us dial back the uncertainty in our lives

This is truly a case of “fake it ’till you become it,” because public speaking makes us better able to ask for what we need, and take charge of the situations we find ourselves in.

Want to Act “As If”? Two Public Speaking Courses STARTING SOON!

I have two 4-week public speaking courses kicking off this month.

Ace Your Online Job Interview is for all job seekers—whether or not you’re interviewing yet. This popular course features everything you need to get the job, including skills, feedback, practice, and support.

Public Speaking in the Pandemic, also limited to 12 participants, will show you how to build the online speaking skills that are now essential for business success—and have fun doing it.

Either one of them will deliver that double benefit. (So does private coaching.)

So consider public speaking training to establish more control in your life.

Keep acting “as if”!

And hopefully, we’ll get to someplace better.

Image by Kelly Sikkema | Unsplash

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