Take One:

Imagine… you’re getting ready to make a presentation, and you’re waiting off stage. As the host speaks of your accomplishments, your heart is pounding and you’re sweating. You’ve had nightmares about giving this speech for a week. Your name is called, respectful applause fills the air, and before you know it, you’re on. The audience senses your nervous energy and you proceed to kill them, slowly and painfully, death via power point. You’re desperate to get the speech over with, so you start talking faster because you can tell that no one really cares about what you’re saying. You don’t know where to rest your gaze… the bright light at the back of the room? The impatient, tired looking people in the front row who are checking their email on their phones? Maybe you should just look down and try to stay calm, but you just want to get off that stage. The little voice in your head is saying, “Get me out of here. They hate me. My speech is the next cure for insomnia.” You fidget back and forth, in an awkward dance, shuffling your weight from foot to foot. “What do you I do with my hands?” you ask yourself, as you mop the sweat off your brow. You’re unsure of where to put your long, heavy, orangutan arms. You feel clumsy, and your clammy hands are shaky, so you try to calm them by gripping the podium which makes the sound system crackle when you bump into the wiring. You give up and jam them into your pockets. Your anxious body language is giving you away, and it’s undermining your rapport with the audience. At the end, there is light applause, and the host thanks you. You walk off stage, relieved that it’s over, but feel disappointed from the experience. You wish that you felt proud and fulfilled, but instead you replay the awkward scene in your brain over and over again.

Take Two:

Imagine… you’re backstage waiting to give your presentation and you can feel the butterflies fluttering in your stomach. But you harness this nervous energy to prepare yourself, honing in on your goals and talking points with a razor sharp focus. The host announces you and gives you the cue, and you go into autopilot, gliding across the stage. Your breath is slow, deep and relaxed, and you pause to look out over the audience, smiling. You realize you can DO this. You have thoroughly prepared, you’ve pushed yourself, and you’ve designed this speech to allow the best version of you to shine. The people in the audience sense your projected confidence and easy demeanor, and they know this is not going to be an ordinary speech. The energy in the room starts to hum as everyone anxiously awaits your first word.

As you speak, you make eye contact with people in the crowd and you can see them nodding their heads in agreement. The little voice in your head is says, “This is fun, I’ve got them.” You start to feel alive, and in the moment. Your words matter, you are meant to do this. Your posture is comfortable and open, relaxed and poised. As you wrap up your speech, you receive a standing ovation and the host thanks you, raving about your presentation. You take a bow and depart.

Backstage, you have a feeling of accomplishment and pride. All of the hard work that it took to prepare and train has paid off. This speech was fun to perform, and you can’t believe it, but you want more.