FIRST : IF YOU DONT FEEL CALM, FAKE IT. Thats right. If you cannot be genuinely cool, calm and confident yet, Im going to show you how to act as if you’re calm and confident.
For our first way to greater confidence, please take these steps:
Deliberately open your mouth just a little bit, and consciously let your tongue go very limp.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Now that Ive got you relaxed, a little…talk to yourself in the mirror. Its alright. There’s only you and me here and I wont tell anyone. Keeping your tongue very limp and your mouth, chin and jaw areas very loose, say a few words. For instance, try saying “Im feeling really terrified about that talk next Tuesday.
Now, please go and get your speaking notes, the ones you’ve prepared for the talk. With those brief notes….
Stand in front of the mirror again. Keep your mouth nice and relaxed. Lets forget about keeping your tongue too limp. With that very relaxed mouth, start giving your talk. Smile at the little joke youll tell your audience next week. Look suitably worried when you give that statistic about the spread of illiteracy or poverty.
Thats the first strategy.
Maybe you want to say to me: “But Jeannette, Ive only been pretending that I was feeling calm and confident about that next presentation. Ive only been acting as if I was truly calm and confident for the sake of this exercise”.
“Think about this, my sweetness. During the five minutes or so that you were doing that exercise, you were calm and relaxed. And you can feel that very same way in front of an audience”.
If you dont have time to get a little friendly audience together for a practice, remember Im up there with you at your next presentation. Feel my presence next to you.
Just before you start your presentation, open your mouth a little and remember that image of you standing relaxed in front of the mirrror. The mind is a marvellous thing. Just by triggering that memory of that relaxed state, will re-produce that feeling. Finish this sentence: if my memories of fear can produce feelings of fear, my memories of speaking in a confident and relaxed way can produce feelings of being confident and relaxed when I speak.
SECOND STRATEGY: LETS GET PHYSICAL AND REALLY TENSE Some people respond better to physical ways to feel more relaxed. This is a tactic used by actors before going onstage. Stand at arm’s length away from a wall. Place both your palms flat on the wall at about shoulder height in front of you. Push against the wall with your palms – as if you were trying to push the wall down.
Notice that your abdominal area is totally engaged in that effort. It is those muscles in your solar plexus that are vital to keeping you centred and calm. While engaged in that physical effort your body cannot also produce the noradrenaline which is the precursor to those panicky feelings of fear.
Even in this short article, I do need you to understand that there is a physical relationship between:
The way you breathe,
How you stand and hold your abdominal muscles and
How you speak.
Doing exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles and to become more aware of them, will be of great assistance to you in controlling nervousness.
Contracting those muscles reduces or stops the production of norepinephrine or noradrenaline – the panic hormone.
THIRD STRATEGY – VISUALISE SUCCESS Another strategy to assuage your own nervousness is to make sure that youre totally familiar with the venue at which youll speak. When youre practising or rehearsing your presentation in front of the mirror, when youre smiling and basking in the positive feelings from the audience, imagine that you’re there in that auditorium or theatre and on that stage. See the colour of the curtains. Or even their color! Visualise the placement of the chairs for your audience. Put as much detail as you can into your visualisation.
That marvellous feeling of actually being there and feeling calm and confident.
Ive discovered that there’s something extremely powerful that we can add to that visualisation process. Its so powerful that I devote a whole Section in myPublic Speaking Success e-Program to it. For now, the process of visualising your calm, confident and successful delivery is a great way to making it happen..