Often I hear people talk about speeches, talks, or lectures they must deliver. Sometimes there is dread in the wording they use to describe the upcoming event. For example, “I have to talk tonight, hopefully it won’t be TOO bad.” Or, “I haven’t spoken publicly too often, so I’m not that good at it.” Have you even been in this situation? Have you ever said things like this about yourself? To you, it may seem as if you are simply reporting the facts, making an observation, or stating the obvious.
What is really happening is that you are setting yourself up to do poorly and for that to be OK. You are assuming that you will perform below a certain level and attempting to do something with the tension caused by that expectation. This is NOT productive. The tension is a real energy that needs to be handled, but not in this self-defeating way. When we say things about ourselves, those things are registered as fact by our subconscious mind. Whether or not they are valid is irrelevant. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between fact and fiction. It simply stores data like a computer. Therefore, when we say negative things about ourselves, those things tend to come true. We can program ourselves for failure. BUT, we can also program ourselves for success. So, a more productive approach, when you have to talk publicly, would be to do the following:
- Acknowledge that you have tension concerning an upcoming speaking engagement and that it’s OK to feel that way (everyone gets nervous to some extent).
- Be sure that if you do talk about your upcoming speech, etc., you talk positively about it.
- Should you catch yourself talking negatively about your speaking ability, reword it immediately. (Ex: “I always bore people.” Should be changed to, “I will deliver an outstanding speech tonight!”)
- Have a way to quickly and easily release your tension during the hour before you get up to talk (squeezing a tennis ball, praying in the restroom, reciting a powerful mantra in your mind, etc. Anything that relaxes you but doesn’t draw attention to you).
It may interest you to know that Carol Burnett used to throw up before performances. So many amazing performers have been wracked with the anxiety of getting in front of people and doing something. The tension is a normal part of being human.
Having an effective strategy for dealing with the tension is a normal part of being outstanding.
I’ll see you at the top!