You will be hard put to find a better definition of nervousness than this: Nervousness is the moment when we focus on our ability to do the task, and forget to focus on the task itself. The trick with all performance is to mentally turn the spotlight in the other direction, and to make the communication all about the audience and their needs, not about yourself. On the other hand if we allow the emotional response of the natural adrenaline rush to be one of panic, and we don’t mentally manage it and acknowledge it, guess what happens? Our bodies decide that we didn’t get enough adrenaline the first time, and very helpfully send us another shot, the second dose strong enough to fell an elephant! This can result in light-headedness, dizziness and actual changes in vision, the effect lasting for up to an hour. And you were thinking of performing with all of that going on?
So the key to the emotional management of a performance related adrenaline rush is to welcome it, it is your performance energy, and to remind yourself to stay task and result focused – not to get bogged down in negative thoughts like:
- ‘Am I good enough for this task?’
- ‘Should someone else be doing it?’
- ‘I’m bound to screw up.’
- ‘Will they like me?’
- ‘My accent is hard to understand.’
- ‘I wish I didn’t use so many ums and ahs.’
- ‘The sales manager is out to get me.’
- ‘I wish I didn’t have a spot on my chin.’
All of these thoughts turn the giant imaginary spotlight inward, and can destroy a performance by altering the whole focus of the presentation or communication, which should always, always be on the audience.
From Speak Now: Communicate Well in the Workplace
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