50% excitement, 50% a ball of anxious energy… that is how I feel every time I step on stage.
Not to mention I have to visit the ladies’ room more than I care to admit. No, public speaking isn’t easy and while I love it there are a few things I want to share with you so you can get your anxiety in check when it comes to standing up in front of a crowd.
Why am I posting about this? Because last week I was invited to share my experiences as an entrepreneur/speaker with a group of high school students who were attending a JA business camp. The question that came up over and over: how do I handle my nerves (when it comes to public speaking)? Are there any tips or tricks you can share? The students I met with were creating business development projects for Colorado based companies Otterbox and WaterWorld. On the last day they presented their ideas (Shark Tank style) to a group of judges. Naturally they were all very nervous about their upcoming showcase.
So how do we get that nervous energy in check?
1)If you are nervous you are in the game! Good for you! Nerves mean you care.
Because I care so deeply about the subjects I speak about I am nervous every time I pick up the mic. While I would like to think I was born to speak I will honestly admit the sweat stains after my first school program I delivered (circa 2005) was quite embarrassing. For a year after that I strategically selected my wardrobe so the stains were less noticeable. I also bought better deodorant! However, 14 years later I still get nervous… so what gives? Let me pass on the advice my mentor has told me over and over again, “Adrienne, the day you’re not nervous is the day you need to retire the mic.” Nerves are a good thing! Embrace them. Yes, it does funny things to your brain and your body goes into hot /cold sweats while your mouth goes dry and your heart races out of your chest, but truthfully the more you do it the more you crave that energy! That energy that used to terrify me is now something I seek!
2)What if you don’t get to practice public speaking for 14 years before you deliver Shark Tank style? The quick and dirty advice I can offer: know your material! Know your material inside out and upside down. If you know it then it will flow out of you even when you are having an out of body experience as most people do in the spotlight.
3)Be mindful of your body posture before you take the stage (or head into an interview). I recommend you do not sit unless you absolutely have to. Avoid crossing your arms or your legs. Do not slouch. Crossing your arms/legs or placing your hand at your neck signals your brain that you need to protect your vital organs. When I am back stage I bounce around like I’m getting ready for a race. I stretch. I put my hands over my head and I’ve even been known to drop and do pushups. Whatever it takes to keep your energy alive – do it. Do not allow your body to go into protective mode. Open your heart physically and metaphorically and your program is bound to have positive energy.
4) Keep your hands out of your pockets! It looks like you are playing with things.
I have so many more tips and tricks. In fact, maybe this calls for a video! Stay tuned…