In this video, I share:

  • A window into that moment before a TEDx speaker heads toward the stage
  • How to create distance from our panic in the moment
  • Actionable steps you can take any time you feel high levels of anxiety rising in your body

Adapted transcript of video:

Hi there. I'm Michelle Berry Franco. So, what do you do if you start to panic right before you're walking onto the stage? So, as you may know, I am a TEDx coach, and I get to work with these incredible speakers who spend unbelievable amounts of time, and energy, and just soul searching, and really hard work crafting talks that are going to change a bunch of lives. I mean, we know that the Ted stage — the Ted and the TEDx stage — is, it's really sort of like the epitome of great speaking opportunities for most people who want to be out there making a big difference with their ideas. It is, it feels very high stakes.

So, this is cool, and it's exciting, and it does inspire a lot of hard work, and some really amazing speech crafting, and practice, and all of that. But, then there's this moment right before, or this maybe five minutes right before… Five minutes to the very moment of walking out on that stage, and I have been blessed with the experience to stand with speakers as they're about to go do that, multiple times. And here's what I'll say to you, they absolutely, I can feel it anyway, are full of way more energy than most of us can imagine under most circumstances, right? And, while none of them so far has turned around and said, “I can't do it, I'm not going to go.” I can just imagine that they've had thoughts similar to that. And, you may have too.

I have, as I was about to walk up onto a brand-new stage. Or, to a front of a room of new people. It can be really overwhelming. So, here are the two things I want to suggest that you do. Number one above all else, recognize that those are just thoughts. The thought that says, “Oh God, I'm going to blow this. I'm going to forget what I'm going to say. I can't do this. Why did I ever say yes to this?” All of that series of thoughts, they're just thoughts, and it's actually super normal. I'm not saying that's going to make you feel dramatically better in the moment. But, with practice, actually that's the most important thing that I have learned to realize and say to myself.

Because, it allows me to then turn away from that. When you think that your thoughts are you, you actually feel like you have to stay with them the whole time. And, that is so painful and overwhelming. And, it doesn't have to feel like that actually. Even in that moment, that has absolutely been my experience. So, you recognize, “Oh,” so you get fascinated. I will call this first point, “Get fascinated.” Fascinated by your thoughts. “Oh look, there's those thoughts that I knew were going to come up, that come up whenever I do something high stakes, and this is certainly high stakes.” Then you turn your attention away from them.

And, it's hard to turn your attention away from those, unless you know what you're going to turn it to. So, there are two things that I suggest in that turning attention away phase. Number one is, take a belly breath. Breathe deep into your belly and release it. Just recognize that when you relax your body, when you release that sort of tension in your body physically, your mind will relax immediately. And, so will the rest of your body, which actually increases, dramatically increases your chances of being just fine when you go out there and start to deliver this talk that you've been preparing for so long.

So, first of all, recognition of your thoughts that this is normal. You're going to have those thoughts. Be fascinated by them. “Oh look, so fascinating. There they showed up, I knew they would.” But don't get so fascinated that you tangle with them. Don't let them hook you. You just go, “Okay, there those are. I'm going to turn away from those, tend to my body, take a nice deep belly breath, and release.” And really, the second phase is a belly breath, and a release into trust. And again, both of these things are practices, but they are powerful practices.

The more times you put yourself in a situation that's at least slightly similar to that high stakes circumstance, the more chance you'll have to practice this. So, craft your talk, and deliver it to a test group, to a smaller group. Deliver it to people that, even in your family, that's a first level anyway. Or, your friends or colleagues at work. And then, the next level would be to do a little test version of it. One of my Ted speakers, so brilliant, he pulled together a group of friends and colleagues at his house, I believe. Actually, I'm not sure where it was. But, he pulled them together before he delivered his TEDx talk, and then he was able to go through the whole thing, and practice both of these things.

Have the thoughts, turn away from them. Belly breath, release. And trust in all of the work you've done.

Okay, that's my tip for this week. I'll see you next week with another tip. Take good care.