I spend a lot of time speaking in front of audiences and people often ask me, “How do you manage to seem so easy and natural when you speak?” My answer is, “Unconscious competence.”

Unconscious competence means being in a place where you are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually aligned, where balance is effortless.

Unconscious competence is not a new discovery or process. In sports people call it “being in the zone.” Some describe it as a mystical experience. You are so in sync and right with yourself that you are in pure concentration and control of the situation.

The Four Stages of Development

The zone of unconscious competence is one of four stages of development: Unconscious Incompetent, Conscious Incompetent, Conscious Competent, and Unconscious Competent. Great artists, speakers, athletes, and leaders all share the trait of unconscious competence.

1. Unconscious Incompetent

Babies are born totally unconscious and incompetent to do anything. They are like a brand new prospect who is unconscious about this business and is not yet competent to take any action within this business. They don’t know anything, and don’t even know that they don’t know anything.

2. Conscious Incompetent

Conscious incompetents are like four-month-old babies. They are very conscious of a rattle or bottle, but are not yet competent to pick it up or do anything with it.

Brand-new distributors are similarly conscious of what lies around them. They are becoming conscious of all the possibilities and of how much they need to learn. They still know little or nothing, but are becoming aware of how little they know.

3. Conscious Competent

At about eight months old, babies become able to reach out, roll over and grab hold of the rattle.

In our business, this is the point where people have learned the skills. They are conscious, they have the knowledge, they have their beliefs in place, and they’re now able to function competently.

4. Unconscious Competent

Finally the baby takes the bottle, the rattle and crawling around for granted. The actions no longer require thought, because they are part of the baby’s being.

In network marketing, a leader no longer has to “do” the business. The skills and attitudes have become part of being a networking leader: it’s effortless.

Being Versus Doing

My son Jamie is a professional sport fisherman with a passion for fishing. To arrive in his zone, he prepares proper equipment and bait. He is very peaceful and very much at ease, since he is not doing fishing: he is being a fisherman.

As a networker, you can learn to be a speaker and trainer instead of doing speeches and doing trainings. You may have heard the saying “thinking is sinking.” In unconscious competence, you are in total harmony with yourself and your audience. The listeners hear and get your message because you are so connected with them. When you think too much, you lose that link.

As a speaker, when you lose your zone, it becomes a struggle. You become unclear and slower in your delivery; your message fades. You go into conscious competence—and it can feel devastating. You fall back into thinking about what you need to say; your mind may even go blank.

In the unconscious competent zone, there is no thinking and intuition is in high gear. Communicating flows freely and effortlessly. Delivery is natural. There is no doing in the zone, only being. All anxiety and fear are absent.

Being in the zone as a speaker is all about the listeners. If you are thinking about how you look, you are into thinking and out of your zone. Being in your zone is about being good, not looking good.

How to Tap into Your Zone

First, you must know your material inside and out and be extremely passionate about it. You are fully aware and totally able to share whatever your topic is.

Second, you must come from truth and an honest intention to create the perfect end result for your listeners. Start with practicing good habits. You’ve heard this saying most of your life, “Practice makes…” what? “Perfect,” right? It’s more than that. Practice makes permanent and leads you into your zone.

I find staying in my zone is easier when I use gestures and move around in front of the room. I do have notes on the podium, so if I lose my zone temporarily, I look down and reconnect with the concept or tool. Professionals are prepared—always.

Third, keep your message simple. Use language that’s comfortable for you. Don’t use big words just to impress. Keep to what is authentic for you.

As long as you speak and train from your zone, even if it’s for several hours, you will not be tired. If you are tired after a training, chances are you were not in your zone enough during your presentation. Doing is what takes work! Being in your competence zone is fun and rejuvenating.

Another way to know when you are in your zone is that when you are, your natural humor comes forth. You don’t need canned jokes, and an audience always loves and relates to natural humor. Laughter strengthens the connection between you and your listeners.

Being in the unconscious competence zone has nothing to do with winning or being “the best.” That would be all about you, and zoning in comes from a different and higher domain of being. You forget about results, knowing they will be awesome. When you are in your zone, you are simply being your best. When people see and hear that, they will spontaneously and naturally choose to follow you.

PEGGY LONG is a professional networker,
has earned the highest titles in two network marketing
companies and is author of
On This Rock.