I get tongue-tied easily. It always happens when I want to make a great impression and my nerves take over. For example, a couple of years ago (when meeting up was normal), I was at a networking event and explained to the group all about my speaking business. Did I come across as smooth and relaxed? No, of course not. I tripped over my words, stuttered a little, and pretty much wanted the ground to swallow me up. I'm sure everyone wanted my business card after that. I practiced what I wanted to say beforehand, yet somehow, I'm back in high school and feel intimidated by my peers. In other words, it happens to the best of us, even when we feel prepared and confident. But, all is not lost.
I had to recognize that there would be times when I was not on my game. No one is ever a hundred percent, and that's not a bad thing. It means there's room for growth and an opportunity to learn. When I looked back at what caused my anxiety at the meeting, I realized I held my breath and didn't trust that I had something to offer. Self-doubt will always induce fear, and that's what will bring me back to the drawing board. What steps can I take to alleviate my worries?
In our next Polished Speaker Podcast, Michele and I go over simple and easy tools to help everyone organize their thoughts and reduce any stress, no matter the situation. We both found that taking the time to outline the ideas we wanted to present and make them as concise as possible gave us a greater chance of coming across confidently. Knowing precisely what we want to say laid the foundation of being more relaxed and ready to answer questions.
Networking events are held virtually right now, but I take the time to take in a few deep breaths before I turn the camera on. I've written down the main takeaways I want to speak about, and I've practiced my introduction out loud. If I still feel a little nervous, I go back and focus on my breathing. I make sure my shoulders are back, my head is lifted, and I'm smiling. Finally, I center myself in front of the camera and check that I'm well lit, and my background is free of clutter. I'm happy to report that my meetings have been successful and well-received.
We're all a work in progress, and we have to learn not to beat ourselves up when we aren't thrilled with our performance. Instead, it's more important to see every situation as an opportunity to learn and grow. I know there'll be times where I'll still trip over my words, but I take that as a signal to slow down and breathe. It's also an excellent time to step back and let someone else take the floor. Having a few minutes to regroup and listen to another participant lends itself to an opening to offer advice or learn something new. We all end up winning, and no one has to repeat high school.