This coming Sunday I will be giving two workshops. First, one is on the methodology I created and used to double our club membership and the second is on how to use entrepreneurial tools and software used in Startups to apply it to your speaking career.
The first workshop I have never done before. The second workshop, I had never done before until last week.
The point I am making is that there is always going to be a first time for anything you do and that at some point or another we are all going to be anxious and afraid of doing something for the first time.
The first time is always more difficult and they say that practice makes perfect and that you lose the fear, however, it does not matter how many times I do it, it doesn’t matter how many times I present the same role at our club and or how many times I give the same speech. I am almost always nervous in the minutes leading up to the presentation. The minutes before I know it is my turn next, and when they start presenting me as the speaker my heart starts racing. Over the years I have come up with numerous techniques for releasing this build-up of energy and anxiety and sometimes I don’t have this opportunity so I just have to run with it.
Is it me? Am I the only one who feels so nervous before stepping on stage? I don’t know. I see other friends and colleagues totally at ease, fully in control with no fear. Do they fear the same and simply not admit to it! have they simply got to the stage of getting over the fear! I don’t know. When I speak of my fear, people respond to me that they don’t see it, they see me in control and love it. It never crossed their mind that I had any feelings of anxiety and it did not show. The question is then, was the fear just in my mind!
However what has most surprised me and what I did not know is that even people in show business were not free from anxiety sickness. Shirley MacLaine in her book “Dance while you can” writes “All creative artists were openly honest about their fears. Barbara Streisand told me she not only wouldn’t but couldn’t perform live anymore because she was certain she’d forget the lyrics. Sinatra said his fear was that he’d open his mouth and nothing would come out. Liza Minnelli was always nervous that the creative people behind her were more nervous than she. Pavarotti and Domingo tested their voices all day long to reassure themselves that they would be able to even utter a sound at night.” The list goes on and on.
While I do know of people who don’t necessarily have this fear and anxiety in the same way. We all have the feeling in some way or another.
The root of this fear however is what is most important. We are up on stage to perform and to impress. What we fear is making a fool of ourselves. What we fear is things going wrong and not as planned. What we fear is the judgment of others.
In the same chapter Shirley recounts how during one of her dance numbers, the top of her custome came loose, exposing everything from waste up. Rather than panic she rescued the moment by glancing down and saying “Well at least you know they are real”. The audience cheered, and the wardrobe mistress came out on stage and sewed the costume back on the spontaneity of the whole thing made a strong connection between the audience. A successful show from what could have been thought of as a disaster in any show.
The point I am making here is that it doesn’t matter what you do in life, there is always going to be a first time when you will be doing it. Things can always go wrong and you can never tell what. What matters is that you stay calm, knowing that you can overcome any obstacles.