In last week’s post I encouraged you to see the nervousness before public speaking as a normal signal that all of your systems were working. Start appreciating the feeling and its power over you will diminish.
I will share another very powerful tool I learned from my good friend Barbara. It’s a relaxation/visualization exercise she taught me years ago and, with her permission, I have shared it will my students and clients.
You start by getting comfortable in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted, sitting preferably in a chair with both feet flat on the floor and hands resting in your lap, not clasped together. Begin with some nice slow deep breaths in through your nose and exhaling out through your nose.
After a few breaths bring your focus to your forehead and start relaxing all the muscles in your face, going through each area like muscles around your eyes, your cheeks, your mouths, lips, chin, jaw, etc. Continue moving down through the rest of your body gently relaxing everything until you can tell you have let go of any tightness or tension in your body.
When that step is complete, start creating an image of you the next time you have a speaking opportunity. Create the entire scenario, like a movie or daydream in your mind’s eye. See yourself as the speaker you want to be, including what you are wearing, your body language, your tone of voice, the ability to connect with your audience, everything you would like to happen. Create the experience in your mind.
At the end of the visualization add how you will feel about the experience, how proud you are that you did the presentation exactly the way you planned it and you are looking forward to the next speaking opportunity. If you do this exercise for about 5-7 minutes every day in the week leading up to your presentation, you get the benefit of doing an actual practice. You start becoming the speaker you envision.
Peak athletes have used this technique for many years with great results. You’ll sometimes hear them talk about it in interviews after they have won a race, a big game, or a gold medal. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson talked about it in an interview during the 2013 season. (Yes, I know…I doubt he visualized THE interception!) But his approach has led to phenomenal results.
I have created recorded versions of this exercise for public speaking, job interviews, media interviews, and other spotlight situations that may cause you stress. They are all available through iTunes and Amazon/Audible. For more information visit my site.
It works and it helps you manage the nervousness, which is normal!