An executive took the stage to talk about his company. He froze up and could barely compose a complete sentence. An officer in a publicly traded company was asked to answer questions from the board of directors. He started sweating profusely and couldn’t speak.
A movie director took the stage for Samsung at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and promptly left that stage exactly 60-seconds later – much to everyone’s surprise.
All are true stories. Agony doesn’t begin to describe how each of the above feel in their respective situations. We’re talking about real people dealing with real fear, anxiety and self-doubt.
The first two stories inspired Sweating Bullets. The third story shows it can happen to anyone.
If you’re going on stage, or in front of a group, here are three steps to go over in your mind as you take those bold steps (didn’t Michael Bay look confident striding on stage!):
1. Remind yourself, “There’s a reason I’m here. I only need to be me. No one else.” Think about Bay, he truly creates stunning images on the screen. Your tastes in movies aside, he’s an expert at the craft. Within the expertise, find confidence to share your story.
2. Tell yourself, “I’m going to have a conversation.” Bay was walking into what should have been one of the easiest gigs of his life: Talking to someone about his life’s work and creating images; answering questions about a topic of which he is an expert!
3. Breathe. That’s right, breathe – times seven. Take seven deep breaths – counting to seven with each inhale and exhale. You’ll be amazed at what the infusion of oxygen can do to calm your nerves and clear your mind.
My heart goes out to Bay and all the others who have – and will – literally freeze up mid-sentence. I don’t care if it’s in front of hundreds at an electronics conference or a dozen at boardroom table. It’s a horrible feeling, but it doesn’t have to be that way.