I was talking with Chip Eichelberger the other day. Chip was the international point man for Tony Robbins and is a successful keynote speaker in his own right. And we were discussing the rituals we have as speakers and performers before we go onstage. You know I’m often asked if I get nervous before I speak. My usual reply is that I don’t really get nervous but I do go into a certain state mentally and physiologically before I step on stage.
I recently attended a rememberance event organized by the Special Air Service. The SAS are the special forces unit of the British Army. These special forces guys are in many ways the opposite of those soldiers serving in non-elite units. Studies have shown that before members of the special forces go into combat their cortisol levels actual drop. They get very calm and very focused. The reason their cortisol levels drop is because it’s more stressful for them when they have to wait for the unknown. As soon as they know they are about to go into action, their training, mastery and control kicks in and they actually feel less anxious.
Perhaps because I was a jazz drummer before I was a speaker I’m very use to going on stages. I was a child when I went onto the stage for the first time and between the ages of 10 up until my early 30’s I was on stages performing in front of audiences five times a week. Sure in the early days I was nervous as hell but when I began to develop my skills first as a jazz musician and then as a speaker I was able relax more. In some ways I find daily life more stressful than being on stages.
Dealing with stage nerves, whether that’s as a speaker, musician, actor or performer requires mastery of your mindset, physiology and content. I was fortunate because those early years as a drummer helped me develop the rituals to master my mindset and physiology. However as a speaker it was only when I felt I had developed sufficient mastery in my content that I really began to relax, improvise, and make those 60minutes more about the audience than myself.
So if you struggle with nerves, spend time ensuring your mindset, physiology and content is where it needs to be. It’s natural to have those butterflies in the stomach before you speak in front of others. Our mind and body is hardwired to avoid rejection. However if you focus on those three areas I mentioned then not only with your cortisol and stress levels reduce but you’ll enjoy the experience more and be able to provide greater value to your audience. Thanks for watching.
[Listen in iTunes] [Listen in Spotify] [Listen on Stitcher]