Let’s say you’re a pianist, or guitarist, or drummer, and you’re scheduled to play a gig. That gig comes around and you’re really not up for it. In the music business, you could “sub out” the gig to another musician, given that person is at the same level of professionalism you are. This is a common practice in the music business, and probably okay if people aren’t coming there to hear you personally and you only do it occasionally.
As a speaker, it’s a different ball of wax. Unless you’ve fallen on a mountain and fractured your ankle, showing up is essential, whether you feel like it or not. The organization has engaged you for your knowledge, experience and ability to connect with your audience, and because you are probably the “it” person on your topic. While someone else equally delightful might be able to replace you, it wouldn’t be you. And let’s face it, no meeting planner likes the stress of inheriting a replacement they don’t know.
Given that, we all have those days when all of our good intentions just are not enough to put that spring in our step. We don’t want to disappoint anyone, so what’s do we do? Here are a few of the strategies I’ve used to show up even when I feel like shutting down!
1. Know you’ve been here before and you met whatever the organization expected and probably more. This isn’t your first rodeo. You can do it.
2. Engage mind over matter. I once heard a saying, “You can do almost anything for the next hour if you put your mind to it.” It just requires a decision.
3. Remember, you probably hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else, so even if you’re “only” at 75 percent, you’re going to do just fine. Plus, no one else knows what you’re going to say, so even if you miss something, they haven’t. You can always add it later. This isn’t an excuse to slack off, only to acknowledge what is most likely true.
4. Reframe the situation. You’re becoming more resilient and can now leap tall buildings! Make this moment meaningful and you’ll bring that energy to your audience.
5. Use a little self-deprecating (not self-demeaning) humor. It can go a long way to creating connection. Sharing you had a flat tire on the way to the gig, or your roof has a leak, or your computer won’t talk to your printer, can be really funny and warm up your audience. We’ve all been there! I wouldn’t recommend you do that right at the start, but doing so a bit into the speech creates that wonderful “we’re all just folks here” feeling between speaker and audience and demonstrates your humanity.
6. Take it easy before the gig. Give yourself some space if at all possible. Treat yourself to something you love, like that piece of chocolate or chi tea latte.
7. Take care of your physical self. Eat well, take a walk, drink plenty of water, get a good night’s sleep, take a power nap or get a massage. Or, and make sure you wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks!
8. Take care of your mental/emotional self. Do EFT (see Andrea Recommends below for more info on this), call a friend for a pep talk, dance with abandon or listen to uplifting music.
9. Take care of your spiritual self. Read inspiring material, pray if you do, walk in nature or meditate.
10. Take care of your professional self. Remind yourself why you made the commitment in the first place, the importance of meeting your commitments, the value of your presentation and how it will serve your audience, and the privilege you have to share your truth with others.
11. Remember how energizing and fun it will be once you get started, because you get to experience the same connection you’re sharing with your audience.
12. Relax. Even if you’re not at your best, unless you’re doing brain surgery, it’s not the end of the world. Put it in perspective and cut yourself some slack, and you’ll probably do a better job.
Most of all, put a smile on your face, stand up straight with your shoulders back, and remember you chose to do that gig for a reason. And, even if your reason has changed, your audience still wants to see you.
It can be tough to show up when you’d rather shut down. A friend of mine would say, “It’s time to put on your big girl (or big boy) pants!” It’s worth it for you, the organization and your audience. I’d love to support you! I can be reached at Andrea@AndreaBeaulieu.com
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a fantastic tool to relieve blocks and discomfort of any kind. It’s based on the body’s meridian system – the same system that informs acupuncture and acupressure practice. Check out this link for more on this: https://www.youtube.com/eftwizard
Image courtesy of Pixabay user Lazare