My heart is racing. My body shaking. I feel sick. I’m listening to the chatter of the audience from the side of the stage. I’ve gone blank!
Why did I put myself up for this? I’m going to screw it up.
I want to run for my notes, but it’s too late. My name is announced and now I’m on stage with a sea of eyes looking at me expectantly. I don’t even remember how to begin!
I stand there for what feels like eternity willing it to come back to me. Do I start rambling and hope it comes flooding back? No. I could be rambling for the entire 45 minutes.
I take a deep breath. The words come flowing out!
What a relief. But what caused this mental block in the first place?
It’s simple. Your body doesn’t know the difference between fear of being laughed at or fear of being attacked. It’s going into protection mode!
In the anticipation of your media interview or presentation, the hypothalamus part of the brain triggers the pituitary gland to secrete the ACTH hormone.
This stimulates the adrenal glands and releases adrenaline into the blood – the ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered.
Your blood pressure and heart rate increase.
Your body instinctively wants to curl up into the foetal position to protect itself and your muscles shake.
Your digestive system begins to shut down to increase oxygen to the vital organs.
You get a dry mouth and a funny feeling in your tummy as blood leaves the brain to send more oxygen to your limbs to allow you to fight the danger or run.
What happens when there’s less oxygen in the brain?
It fucks with your memory and speech!
Here’s are some suggestions you can try, that will reduce the chances of you going blank.
1. Turn the Fear into Excitement
Don’t try to fight your nerves. They are not the enemy. Instead of trying to push them away, welcome them and use them to your advantage. Nerves give you energy and life, which is exactly what you need when public speaking, as long as you don’t let them take over. Notice what’s happening in your body and tune into it, breathe deeply and remind yourself that you are safe. This will help you to turn the fear into excitement!
2. Prepare, Prepare and Prepare Some More
Despite what you may have heard in the past, you can’t be too prepared. I’ve heard people say that over- preparing can lead to coming across as robotic. That’s only if you deliver it in a way that’s robotic!
Think about the famous speech by Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo Dicaprio) in Wolf of Wall Street.
Now ask yourself this – does Leonardo Dicaprio come across as robotic? No? But did he prepare fully or did he waltz in to the scene saying whatever came into his head?
I can assure you that Leonardo prepared the hell out of that speech. He knew exactly what he was going to say and rehearsed the hell out of it. If he hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been half as powerful!
3. Take it Easy!
Arrive early, switch your devices off, forget about the rest of the world and relax with some deep breathing exercises, stretching and visualisation.
4. Plan to Fail
One of the most effective ways to tone down your fear is to listen and pinpoint exactly what you’re afraid of, then create a game plan of how you will handle it if all goes tits up!
Think of every eventuality and plan exactly how you’ll handle it if it happens. Going blank will be one of these.
What’s your game plan? You could fire some questions at the audience to buy you time, write trigger words somewhere where you can look at them discretely or pause and take a deep breath to collect your thoughts.
5. Take Tips From A-list Actors
A huge chunk of an actor’s training is in improvisation. This prepares them to be able to quickly adapt to any given situation with confidence and grace.
I have no problem admitting that without my acting background, I would not be able to put myself in half of the situations that I do today!
This is why we offer training in delivery, with a big focus on improvisational acting techniques as part of our Done- For- You Media service.
We don’t just book you for interviews and throw you to the wolves. We are with you every step of the way to bring out the best in you!
If you want to be featured in the media within the next 30 days, book your free planning call below.
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