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  May 17, 2017

The Inner Game of Being On Stage: Six Powerful Techniques To Be At Your Best When It Really Counts

There is no more powerful opportunity to influence, inspire and motivate others than to be on stage. The stakes are rarely higher.

If that presentation goes great, it can mean:

  • Selling your services or products in a much bigger way
  • Getting your new business venture funded
  • Securing that big promotion
  • Getting everyone aligned behind a common vision and thrilled to be a part of it
  • Ensuring (or not) the very success of your company at a crucial inflection point
  • Anything and everything related to making your dent in the universe

The most overlooked fact about being on stage is that there is no more powerful ingredient in the success of your presentation than your own mindset.

If you’re relaxed, willing to be vulnerable, and have confidence in what you’re saying and who you are, that will shine through to your audience. If you’re anxious, worried, overconfident, or holding back in any way, that will shine through to your audience.

Put simply, performing on stage in front of an audience will completely expose the healthiness of your mindset. Every. Single. Time.

Yet, the mindset of being on stage is rarely talked about or taught. It’s so ironic that the very thing that drives your success on stage more than anything else is so under-recognized.

I do a lot of work with leaders and entrepreneurs on the mindset of living a fully realized life, often including being on stage in front of large audiences.

Here are six powerful techniques that I teach executives and entrepreneurs:

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice. “The only way out is through” is a very true statement, with one very important caveat: Don’t just practice for the sake of practice – practice mindfully and artfully. Here are a couple of examples of how to practice deliberately: First, work on just one or two specific things each time you’re on stage. If you try to work on more than that, you will overwhelm yourself. Second, make sure you start with the highest leverage points in your growth. A great example of that is the thesis of this article: there is no higher leverage place to focus on growing as a speaker than your mindset.
  2. Change Your Self-Talk to be More Positive and Accurate. To put it in simple terms, our minds are wired in such a way that we often see ourselves in a very distorted fashion. The more vulnerable the activity feels to us, the more distorted our self-talk tends to be. For most people, there is nothing more vulnerable than being on stage. Click this link to watch a brief video and get a much better sense of how pervasive and powerful our self-talk is. One question I often ask my clients that helps them to shift their self-talk is “What if you treated yourself like you were your own best friend?”
  3. Get Into Your Body and Out of Your Head. Worrying about how you look or how you sound tends to make you come across as tentative, uncertain and anxious. Your audience will automatically tend to feel your feelings. Is that the way you want them to feel? Yet it’s one thing to know that you need to think positive, and it’s another to actually do it. Often what can help people the most is to jump up and down, swing their arms around, make silly sounds or anything else that will get your blood flowing – right before you go on stage. That may sound embarrassing to you. If you can find a “safe” place to do it, then do it that way. If not, do it anyway or maybe do something that feels safer like stretching, arching your back, smiling broadly, opening your arms widely etc.
  4. Practice Gratitude and Self-Compassion. Every time you are on stage, take a few mins afterwards to write down at least three specific things you did well. Our brains are wired to over-emphasize negative experiences and under-emphasize positive ones. By taking the time to highlight what went well, you will cultivate more self-compassion and appreciation. That positive mindset will help you to enjoy the experience more, and better equip you to learn from each time you’re on stage. It’s important that you actually write this down and not just run through it in your mind. It will become and feel more real as you write about it – and that’s the whole point.
  5. View Each and Every Time You’re on Stage as a Learning Experience. Life is a constant learning experience. Yet somehow as adults we make up that we’re supposed to have it all figured out. And if we don’t have it all figured out then we better not let anyone know that about us. The actual truth is that we’re meant to learn and grow our entire lives. If we ever fully “arrived” and stopped striving for more learning and more growth, not only would be become incredibly bored but we’d actually begin to die. Give yourself permission to be a lifelong learner, and look at everything in your life – no matter how uncomfortable or painful – as a learning experience. And stop making up that pain is bad… we often need pain and discomfort in order to truly grow.
  6. Share Your Gifts. The World Needs To Hear You. “In the cemetery there is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.” – Myles Munroe. I have no doubt that the world is a better place when everyone is living to their full potential. The gifts you were given in this lifetime were given to you to be expressed, realized and fully brought to fruition. If you choose not to move through and beyond your fears of public speaking and being “on stage”, you’re not just letting yourself down. You’re letting your loved ones down and you’re letting the entire universe down. If it feels too hard, too uncomfortable – or too anything – that is just your ego getting in your way. Your expression of yourself is much bigger than just you. It’s who you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to do. Live it!
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