April 7, 2010

Crashes are part of the race



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Yesterday, I read this tweet from Lance Armstrong:

"Meanwhile, 6 of the 8 guys from our Flanders squad are down and out w/a stomach bug. #hopingimlucky"

Not long after that one came this tweet:

"Not so lucky I guess. Sicker than a dog now. This sucks."

The illness took him out of the four-day race he had just begun.

Having watched the Tour de France for the past eleven years as well as other cycling races, I have come to understand that riders will get sick, the weather will range from sweltering to freezing, people will crash, get injured and leave the race, and all of this is completely normal.

Sure, I imagine that the riders hope for perfect weather, no illnesses and no crashes, but that never happens. Because all of these things are part of the race.

I was having a conversation the other day with Susan Hyatt of Ideal Life Design, a client of mine, an accomplished speaker and life coach (I'll be posting our interview soon), and a similar topic came up, that of public speaking nerves.

Everyone gets nervous, some more than others. Some people are so petrified that they'll avoid public speaking at all costs. Some get a little stage fright right before beginning their presentations, and it goes away quickly.

Susan and I agreed on this: Nervousness is part of public speaking.

If you continue to wish and hope for this not to be the case, you will be disappointed time and time again.

A manageable amount of nervousness is actually beneficial to a speaker, as it creates energy and liveliness. It's a signal that you care about the audience and want to do well. It's a signal to your body that you're in a heightened state of awareness. In fact, you can actually reframe nervousness and train your brain to see it as excitement -- the same way you're excited and scared at the same time on a roller coaster.

But you can't expect that you'll never be nervous. It's a part of public speaking like crashes are part of the Tour de France. The best way to deal with nervousness is not to try to eradicate it, but to learn to manage it as a tool and use it to your advantage.

If you can move past the expectation of no nervousness, then you can focus on the important things: Your effectiveness as a speaker.

For more on managing your nervousness, here are some previous posts:

Cool as a cucumber or sweaty like a racehorse

This is why a little public speaking anxiety is a good thing


Baby steps to fighting fear


Feel the fear and speak anyway

Four steps to controlling your fear

Expectations

Tough Love Thursday: Drop the drama

Don't panic, plan it

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