Just the other day I was working with a new client on her presentation skills in a VIP Deep Dive. She was so ashamed to speak English in public and always let her nerves get in the way. I asked her who she admired as a public speaker in English, and she named one of my clients! She didn’t know I was his English coach, and when I told her that this incredible speaker got nervous too, she was shocked!
If you get nervous before speaking in public, this means that you are human. YEAH for not being a robot! Being nervous means that this talk is important to you. You care about the results and want to do a good job. If you didn’t give a shit (also known as a ‘flying fuck’, now isn’t that a lovely expression to brighten up your Monday?) you wouldn’t care enough to get nervous.
So that’s ok. Nerves will come and go.
And these 3 simple tips will help you deal with them.
If you breathe too high up in your body, this increases the ‘flight or fight’ hormone that makes you even more nervous. It used to help save our lives (thanks, for that, biology!) but now it can get in the way and cause everything from hyperventilation to a blackout. You need to breathe LOW and SLOW. From your belly button down. That’s the sweet spot. There are many different breathing techniques out there but I personally love the 4-7-8 breathing technique. You breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, then hold that for a count of 7, then have an ‘active’ slow and low exhale by making the SH or the F sound, for a count of 8. If you do this for 5-8 times, you will be amazed at how grounded and balanced you feel. Do not do this while driving or operating heavy machinery!
2. Control what you can and let go what you can’t. I show my clients how to make an IN MY CONTROL and OUT OF MY CONTROL list. Write down, and be as specific as you can, what is in your control. Do you know where the stage is? What kind of mic you are using? Do you know the WIFI code? Have you checked your sides? Tested the sound? etc etc. What can you NOT control? Earthquakes. Coughing fits. Dropped WIFI signals. Train disruptions. etc. When you compare these 2 lists you will see that you have worked hard to cover all the bases and controlled what you can. You can leave the earthquakes for someone else to worry about.
3. Practise makes perfect (but stay human). I got so many reactions from my newsletter last week on why you should not be over prepared. It seems like so many people forget this important step. You need to practise, of course. Say your talk to yourself while you are driving (everyone will think you are on the phone, no worries!), in the shower (no one will think you are on the phone) and cooking at home. If you are overprepared, you will leave no room for spontaneity. Stay human. Don’t sound so polished that you sound like a robot. No one likes listening to a robot (ok maybe some Trekkies, but that’s another kettle of fish). Always have a glass of water ready so that you can take a sip and collect your thoughts for a moment if you need to. One of my favorite TED talks is this one by Amy Cuddy and you can see how she herself gets emotional, and this just bring the audience in more.
So, my dear. You got this. You can do it.
And stay your fabulous, imperfect self.