Here’s What Happened When I “Blanked Out” on Stage at TEDx

Public speaking triggers fear and anxiety. But here’s how one speaker harnessed that energy for optimal performance.

Speaking at TEDx about how to make self-doubt an ally.

Well, that’s a wrap. My first TEDx talk is in the books!

Getting up on stage to share a message about why you should listen to your inner critic and quit making it your enemy was a tremendous honor.

Speaking at TEDx was an exhilarating, challenging experience that I’ll write more about in the future. I’ll also share the full recording of my talk once its available, so stay tuned. And make sure we’re connected on Instagram and Facebook where I post more updates.

For now, though, I wanted to give you a glimpse into what was secretly going on while I was on stage. Something you likely won’t see on camera when the video comes out.

And that is…I blanked out on stage.

…But, not in the traditional sense.

Sure, I was nervous. The excitement amplified as they strapped my mic on and I stared at infamous red carpet from offstage.

Then as I walked out in front of a 300-person theater filled with people, a strange thing happened.

My fears and self-consciousness melted away. I felt fully immersed, connected, and present as if I was floating on air. My body was tingling. The words seemed to come out effortlessly.

Instead of being overcome by public speaking anxiety, I harnessed the energy and used the depth of my feeling to create a genuine connection with the audience.

Leveraging The Power of “Flow State”

In positive psychology, flow is a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, involvement, and enjoyment. (Image courtesy of Pexels)

While it certainly felt supernatural, there’s science to back-up this magical feeling.

I shifted into what’s known as psychological flow, which is a state of optimal, peak performance. Think of it like having the ultimate high on life (sans substances).

In fact, positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who pioneered the concept explains in this TED talk why “flow” might be a key to lasting happiness.

When you’re in flow state, a few things happen:

You get surges of powerful “feel good” neurochemicals. As a result you feel blissful and active, but relaxed. You know what you’re doing is challenging, yet you’re confident you’ve got this.

Your brain waves shift into a heightened, nearly meditative, state. Flow accesses parts of the mind responsible for pattern recognition, concentration, and focus. Action seems effortless.

You lose a sense of time and self, meaning the chatter in your mind quiets down. You quit focusing on your insecurities and instead focus attention outside of yourself on the task at hand.

Maybe you can recall a time when you were so completely immersed in an activity that you lost all sense of time, felt as if you were in a trance, or utterly “in the zone”.

If so, that’s flow.

Most importantly, you don’t have speak in front of hundreds of people to create meaning and satisfaction. Playing sports, having a deep conversation with a friend, writing or creating art — all of these activities have been shown to trigger flow state.

Understanding the basics of how the brain works helped me take advantage of the energy my body and mind were producing while on stage to create a positive experience, rather than succumb to nerves and allow them to overtake me.

So, when have you experienced “flow”?

What are you doing when you feel the most “in the zone”?

Share an experience in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear it.

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