If you are a baseball fan or a fan of underdogs you have to love the fact that the New York Mets are going to post-season playoffs for the first time in a very long time. (Not as long as the Seattle Mariners’ playoff drought, but that’s another post!)
According to an article in the New York Times today, the Mets have a sports psychologist working with the players to help them relieve the extra stress they may be feeling for the first time in their careers.
Turns out, the psychologist is teaching them how to slow things down through breathing and how to use visualization to improve their skills. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard is quoted as saying “Baseball is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical.”
I have said the same thing about public speaking. It’s easy to show you the best mechanics and preparation for delivering effective speeches. The real challenge is dealing with all the noise in your head when it’s your turn in the spotlight.
After teaching a class on public speaking, I often have someone come up and ask me afterwards if I have any more tips beyond what I gave during the class. Here’s what I say:
The best way to get better at public speaking is to do more of it. Think of it as a muscle that needs exercising; create a personal communication fitness program. And one of the best ways to get regular practice in a supportive environment is to join Toastmasters International. There are clubs all over the world and the sole purpose is to help people improve their speaking skills.
Shift your focus. Instead of being concerned about your performance, focus on your audience. It’s all about them.
Use relaxation and visualization on a regular basis, in daily 5-10 minute increments. Over time you will begin to relax and become the speaker you envision. (Here’s my blog post on how to do my relaxation/visualization exercise)
And of course there are professional coaches out there who can also help. But just reading tips is not enough. You have to work at it and practice. That’s what got the Mets into the playoffs this year. Think about how far you’d like to go!