Even Public Speaking Coaches Get Nervous
Confessions of a Public Speaking Coach
This past week I ran a workshop in gorgeous Whistler, BC for a group of engineers. And just like everyone else who stands in front of an audience, I had pre-event nerves.
Many seasoned public speakers will confirm a similar timeline to mine–a week before: little stomach tumbles, three days before: large stomach tumbles & occasional night time waking, two days before: self doubt gremlins, stomach gymnastics, & frequent night time waking, one day before: all of the above on two hours sleep. Insert this a few times during the previously outlined week ==> “Why did I agree to do this?”
In full force that old fight or flight lizard brain reared its Neanderthal self. Fueling my Amigula’s highjacking, a nasty little gremlin was sitting on my shoulder shouting out some nasty insults: “You are not as smart as an engineer”, “What if they don’t warm up and you can’t engage them”, and “You are supposed to be the public speaking coach so how come you’re nervous?”. Uh huh, the squirrelly brain was in full cycle and revving fast.
Why Did My Nerves Get a Stranglehold on My Logic?
For a number of reasons.
For the past few months I have been busy coaching private clients and volunteering with TEDxKidsBC where I was helping speakers get ready for our event this past April. No time on stage = rust build up.
Mid April I attended TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar where I wore my presentation coach critiquing hat. I learned a lot and I’m still processing some of the richness and opportunity offered during that week. Attending TEDxSummit made me realize how tough I am on other presenters (that’s my job) but what comes along with that is I’m really hard on myself too.
Although I had done my research on the attendees, scouring LinkedIn profiles and interviewing the organizers, I had never worked with this group before. I was facing an unknown.
In improvement mode I did a considerable revamp to my workshop to address new research I have undertaken on curriculum develpment and how deep learning is acquired by students. Again I was facing an unknown–what would stick/work or not.
I was a bit rusty, facing some unknowns, and putting up a high bar for success.
What Did I Do to Calm My Nerves & Set Myself Up for Success?
I did square breathing and Pilates lateral breathing exercises (different than the breathing practiced in Yoga). This helped to bring my racing mind to the present rather than focused on what could be.
Watched myself enter the room with energy and enthusiasm, confidently stand in the room, and exiting to applause kept me on track with the energy level I wanted to feel.
Practice, Practice, and Then More Practice
Every minute that I could fit in practicing I did. Key!
Pushed the Gremlin Off My Shoulder With Mantras
“You are a Communication consultant who specializes in public speaking. You are not an engineer.” “Everyone gets nervous before public speaking.”
A Positive Outcome
The gremlins were proved wrong (yet again) and the workshop went well with good feedback and reviews. Would I make some changes? Absolutely. Workshops and presentations are always works in progress. Was I happy with the workshop? Yes, extremely happy with how the workshop went. The attendees were a great group who jumped in wholeheartedly and learned both from me and their colleagues. I also learned as much from them.
What Would I Do Differently to Calm My Nerves?
I’ll be making it a habit to get out and speak more.
And take in stride the thoughts of a man I deeply admire — Edward R. Murrow, “The best speakers know enough to be scared… the only difference between the pros and the novices is that the pros have learned to train the butterflies to fly in formation.” ~ From Scott Berkun’s, “Confessions of a Public Speaker”.
To Your Voice ~ Janice
Do you have an upcoming presentation that you would like to take from good to WOW?
I will help you elevate your next public speaking event by working with you to deliver with confidence.
Please send me an email: janice at (@) janicetomich dot (.) com or fill out this short contact form.
I will get back to you and answer your questions within 24 hours.