When Senator Marco Rubio was slated to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, I am sure he was feeling the pressure. The image of the Republican Party was on the line, and that was no small task. You bet he was nervous. So he started his speech and then found himself lurching for a sip of water mid-sentence. The gesture was somewhat awkward, but preferable to being overly parched. Performance anxiety can create excessive sweat, dry mouth and a racing heart. To a certain degree this is utterly normal, but there are steps you can take to stay cool when the pressure is on. You have to be prepared for your media moment!
Let’s face it, there are a select few who simply adore being in the limelight. The rest of the population needs training. Here are my top five tips to chill you out so you can shine.
1. Get Perspective: I was thrilled to hear Senator Rubio’s response to his “water bottle” moment. He quipped, “God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human.” Indeed, sir! By keeping your expectations in check, you give yourself some breathing room to stumble. If you handle the occasional mis-step in stride, you’ll come off strong.
2. Your Mighty Affirmation: If you are someone who is uncomfortable in front of an audience, you have likely stated something like, “I can’t stand speaking in public, I’m awful.” If you continue to repeat that sentiment, then awful you will be. Re-write your story with a new positive affirmation! It doesn’t matter if you believe it… You will see the results simply by changing your tune. “I feel confident and calm in front of an audience” will do wonders for your preparation. Small shifts create massive results.
3. See Yourself Succeed: I hope by now you have heard of the power of visualization. Once you have prepared your material, spend time picturing yourself ENJOYING your delivery. The more you see it, the more you believe it. Your mind can create your blueprint for success. See for yourself!
4. It’s About Them, Not You: If you are given the opportunity to take the stage and share your wisdom, then there is likely a very good reason why. What does your audience need to hear? What nugget of information will change their lives? When you keep your mind focused on them, it naturally takes the focus off of you. Stand and deliver with that in mind and you will never notice what’s happening in your body. Trust me.
5. Breathe: Taking slow, deep belly breaths will instantly calm you down. If your heart starts to skip a beat at the mere thought of delivering your speech, then practice deep slow breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Ahhhhhh…
I applaud Senator Rubio for handling the backlash of his sipping scenario with panache. (Given the fact that he had just recorded an 18 minute speech in Spanish, it’s no wonder he was thirsty!) He responded to the media frenzy with a sense of humor and it seemed to work. With 13,000 new Twitter followers, I would say the Senator came out on top. Leave it to a politician to turn lemons into lemonade. Drink up!
P.S. Want more public speaking skills and tips? Check out my online courses!