Email The Goddess
Of Public Speaking
For Help With Your
Hello to you!
2012 has arrived in my life with a huge bang and no whimper.
I've been booked solid for private coaching in January and spoke at the annual Rotary Youth Leadership week long conference for young people aged 18-30 about "communicating under pressure". Inspiring to meet our confident and articulate future leaders.
How's your February?
3. Wordplay now coming courtesy Wordspy.com, thanks to Paul McFedries
Dear Goddess Of Public Speaking...
" I freeze and go blank when I give a presentation or introduce myself to a group. It also happens when I meet a man I'm attracted to; I barely remember my name. " S. C., ACCOUNT MANAGER
" Are You A Rabbit In The Headlights?
How to stop freezing when you speak. "
You are describing performance anxiety. For most of my clients, it occurs in "formal speaking situations" where they believe there is a high likelihood of judgement - "I might fail" or "they may not like me".
For some people, a "formal" situation like an interview or a meeting, induces a near state of panic with emotions and negative thoughts tumbling out of control, overriding rational sense. Have you ever tried to comfort a "nervous public speaker" by telling them to "just relax and be themselves"? It's just not going to cut it. They cannot hear you when gripped by mental, emotional and physical paralysis and are likely to keep on doing the same thing, over and over and not moving forward. Just like a rabbit in the headlights.
Freezing Feels Worse Than It Looks
Freezing when public speaking generally feels much worse to the speaker, than it looks to the listener. A 30 second blank, can look like a pause. Taking time to gather your thoughts is appreciated by listeners because it means you are thinking about what you say in the present moment, not repeating mechanised rote. When I film clients for the first time giving a talk, they are amazed that their occasional blank moments come across as natural pauses. What is important is how they deal with it then and there. Running away or giving up just makes it worse the next time.
Train Your Inner Bunny To Survive
I'm going to tell you a great story I heard once to explain how to break the freeze and blank pattern:
"To ensure your survival in a burning building like a hotel - when you check in, take the time to read the evacuation procedures and map. Then physically open your door and walk down the hall, counting the number of doors between you and the exit. Ideally, go through the fire door, down the stairs (stay below floor 6!) and out the building. Should an evacuation be necessary, you are much more likely to find the exit because your mind/body remembers everything and you've already practised. When you panic, you freeze and stop thinking rationally. So many people die because they freeze and don't know how to respond to the situation. Instead, just let your body remember to take over and help you."
How To Stay Connected To Your Flow
I once warbled my way through a 10 minute speech by singing 6 or 7 different 1930's show tunes with a few words in between. Once I realised how well that worked, the tyranny of writing and memorising a clever speech went out the door. You really can do ANYTHING to get your message across once you take the pressure off yourself believing there is only one right way to speak. The key is to find the way that's right for you. Practise to bypass the freeze and to reconnect to your own source of flow. And if you are really stuck, try one of my Confidence & Connection programs.
Prepare ahead and practice. I don't mean in your mind. I mean with your whole body. Stand up and walk over. Read the thing or say it outloud. Practice pausing and making eye contact. Wait for responses. Imagine questions and answers. Then, practise finishing. Consistently we underestimate or overestimate our capacity depending on our level of self esteem on the day. Practicing gives you a reality check and confidence in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.
Don't whine, beg for rescue or run screaming from the room. Own it. Take a breath, feel your feet, wait for the tears to stop, say "Gee I've gone blank - bear with me…" and start from where you left off. Admitting your vulnerability is a bridge builder. People admire seeing triumph over adversity. It's inspiring, energising and opens conversations and hearts.
Plan to use less words and express your message with your whole body. This is also a great technique if you feel blank around potential cuties. Simply: face your listeners with your whole body, face and make sustained eye contact - this indicates your interest in being with them. Use your hands and facial expressions. Use props to help you remember your points or to make your point for you. For instance, if you are talking about a book, bring that book with you, show a slide or refer to a handout. It is so much easier to talk about a THING if you have that THING in your hands.
Need some direct help from Goddess of Public Speaking?
It's time now to take your personal and professional wellbeing pulse. On a scale like the one below, rate between 1 and 10, how cool, calm and connected you feel right now...
When you speak and lead with natural ease and authenticity, you will be closer to 10. When you feel scattered, distracted or unconfident, you will be closer to 1.
What To Do: If you are above a 7 today, notice what's working well and keep doing it. Accept that daily variations in confidence and clarity are normal. If you are below a 7 today, listen to our free recording of the 5 minute Inner Calm exercise. You can also download our 2 free A4 Posters of Inner Calm and the Calm Barometer for your wall.