My heart was beating faster than techno music. My mouth was dryer than Arizona in August. My palms were sweating like a Finnish sauna. But – I was not about to speak in public!
I was 11 years old and I was about to run the 100 meters at our school’s annual sports summer festival. Competition must be a great driver of adrenaline. Relief came only when I heard that clapping sound set free by that judge next to us. The “Go, go, go” cheers of my classmates – I hardly heard them. I was focusing one thing only: the finish line!
Change Your Perception
For many public speakers the finish line seems to be… the stage. We all share the same feeling – the dry mouth, the sweaty palms, the pounding heart. But – I strongly recommend that you change your perception. The lectern, the spotlight, the stage – whatever it may be you are standing at, in or on – should never be your finish line. It shall rather be your starting position.
How many times have I seen speakers sprinting to speak. Once they’ve taken their position, they start to speak right away. Position taken, kick-off. That is so rushed. It literally kills the first magic moment of any speech.
Take Your Time
Find your poise, breathe deeply, throw a warm smile into your audience. We don’t see your sweaty palms. We don’t see your pounding heart. We don’t see your dry mouth. But we do see your warm smile and your face of conviction.
There is no judge standing next to you. You set free your own clapping sound. Be patient. When the entire stadium is silent like those lambs, then you start to sprint. This race will be yours!
Not Me But Them
My days of running 100m races are over. When I have taken my starting position today I am not nervous any longer. Today I smile because I don’t have to wait for that clapping sound anymore to start sprinting. Today the spectators have to wait for me. And I have so much time, you have no idea…