My performance career started at 8 years old.
I was the new kid in school, chunky smart, different…
Sr Ruth asked – who knows how to sing this hymn?
Knees knocking, I go up and deliver the first 3 verses of Oh Breathe on meeeee – breath of God!
I can’t say my audience was spellbound but I do know my vibrato was impressive that day. Any sopranos here today? I am not one of those!!
So music and smarts are the currency of my relationship with life.
Strolling through high school and university (the first time round) still singing.
I join the public service – move to Sydney, NSW work at Radio 2EA – less singing more smarts.
Meet and marry a very smart man have 2 children together, no singing anymore – lots of smarts.
Go back to university and fall in love with Sociolinguistics – the study of language in society. Much more smarts…. but singing is nowhere to be found.
Stop the clock – it is 2008.
I am sitting in the kitchen of our beautiful home in Hobart, Tas with magnificent ocean views. Sobbing. I am Deputy State Manager of a federal government department.
I am exhausted by the emotional roller coaster we are all on. I have become the barrier for my kids against my husband’s anger and deep unhappiness.
My little family is emotionally starved. I can no longer do this. There is a better way to live my life with joy again and hear the music.
I leave Hobart and return to Brisbane with two kids after 25 years away.
I planned to get a job back in the public service straight away….. that was my plan – not as easy as I thought.
I started a business which was going to change the world where people valued grammar and writing skills. I had guest spots with Spencer Howson on ABC, the national broadcaster. (We celebrated international apostrophe day amongst other things.) Unfortunately, Grammarly is almost as good as me….. and there is a free version.
So next – a drama academy franchise on the Sunshine Coast, Qld. That was a glorious 18 months of teaching lovely shy little kids how to be confident using drama as the vehicle. I was featured on Channel 9 TV, giving expert advice on teenagers texting habits.
But making very little money. Deep sigh!
So back to Brisbane to start again and see the unexpected, rapid decline of my dear old Mum – who loved me and supported me 100% in all my wild ventures.
I have hit the bottom emotionally and financially.
What on earth do I do now? I start to consider what I have to offer in the world but it is a long, dark road.
Performance, voice and theatre techniques are still valuable, my beloved sociolinguistics has equipped me with the theory of good communication. I have conquered dark places using these tools, and I have been given me raw insight into how I can help others.
I design and develop a series of step by step programs to help people speak their truth. Each time a person is empowered to speak, humanity is the better for that message and we can celebrate that contribution.
The list detailed are simple yet powerful physical and mental activities to displace the fear responses many of us have when we are required to speak. The actions we talk about here are proven interrupters of the habits of fear and killers of confidence.
TODAY here for you – Top 10 confidence boosters for when you HAVE to get up to speak.
Start counting backwards from 100 in 7s. 100, 93, 86, um 79 is it?
Warm up your pipes. Hum a little bit, whisper your favourite saying.
Feel the floor through your feet.
Never forget this one! Breathe in for 3, hold for 3, out for 3.
Have a physical object to touch and focus on.
Just imagine the words flowing freely and fluently. (Don’t revisit the memory of the last time you froze.)
Either wear a favourite scent or REMEMBER a favourite smell – freshly mown grass, coffee, baby’s hair.
Try on your favourite smile. Your brain won’t know the difference in a physical sense.
Use the Wonderwoman or Superman stance. It is proven. Amy Cuddy has some advice for us.
The NINJA HUNH.
This is my own signature move – yes that is me. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Elbows to your sides, fists clenched, palms upward. Then bend your knees and give a diaphragmatic grunt. Ninja Hunh explained!
Of course, there are many other aspects that are important when getting ready to speak in public. And these tips are not all for public display either are they?
But they can go some way to interrupt the panic spiral and reset your thinking to focus on:
- What am I going to say?
- Who am I talking to?
- Why am I speaking?
- What message do I want the audience to take away?
Please remember, what you have to say is important, give yourself the best chance of delivering that wisdom with calm and confidence.
I would love to hear that you have tried out one, two or the whole countdown list! What was the feeling inside? Did the fear spiral STOP? Just for a second or two to catch your breath?