You know that feeling when your stomach is going to internally implode before speaking in front of a crowd? Yeah, that used to happen to me a lot and still does in a different way.
I learned how to channel it a bit differently thanks to a wonderful acting professor I had in college. His name was Kevin Long and you should look him up because he helps teach folio technique at the Shakespeare Theatre in Chicago. He was a great inspiration on how to channel those nerves into something he liked to call “positive energy.” This energy is the rush that drives you, it’s the runner’s high of energy, and that adrenaline that fuels you. Don’t think of it as debilitating and a cause to hold you back from being confident.
Why am I telling you about channeling your nerves into something positive? Well, one thing that I’m working on is getting better at phone calls. You’d think that’d be easier than speaking in front of a crowded room with everyone staring at you, but I actually prefer that. I can see people’s reactions when I make them laugh with a joke, I can read their body language as well as their vocal tones to justify their motives and what they are thinking. The problem I have with phone calls relates to my fear of not seeing what’s going on behind the scenes while communicating with a person via phone. I don’t know if they are really listening to what I say or just brushing me off with a simple “mhmm.” Once I am on the phone though, I am able to speak calmly and clearly and can work everything out. It’s the pressing of the call button that fills me with uncontrollable anxiety. My stomach sinks like quicksand and I feel like it’s eating itself until I’m finally communicating with the person on the other side.
Speaking of which, I love getting the voicemail for the person I am calling. At least the first time. It gives me a sense of security that maybe the next person won’t be there and I’m able to just fly through numbers. I don’t advise doing things my way, but practice with your friends first, especially if you know you get anxious with calling or speaking.
Think of it as being enthusiastic when it comes to speaking. It’s your body getting ready to do or say a significant comment. It works and makes a difference. Just remember, half the time, people are all worried about themselves and how they are presented. We all have fears and speaking is in the top three fears. You’re not alone. So close your eyes, draw a deep breath, picture everyone else in their underwear like you were taught in middle school, and let your voice be heard because we all have something notable to say.