In the public speaking/presentation skills class that I teach, we were discussing the comparisons between Olympic athletes and sports performance and its parallels to public speaking. I have always used the metaphor of sports with public speaking anxiety, preparation, and delivery, but it is that much more relevant as we watch world class athletes every day during the sixteen days of the 2016 Olympics.
Where do the similarities begin?
We need to prepare for the big event! This includes setting up a routine for practice. We can’t just show up unrehearsed. Set up a schedule that leads up to your presentation.
We watched Michael Phelps sit in the ready room prior to his 200 meter Butterfly with his game face on, while his competitor, Chad Le Clos, shadow boxed front of him. Watch it here
A gymnast was seen lying down with his jacket over his eyes prior to performing. You need to focus on your routine, the race, or the presentation. Visualize positive outcomes.
Get your muscles ready to perform. For speaking, this can include neck and shoulder stretches, vocal exercises with pitch glides and humming, as well as rapid tongue twisters to wake up your lips, tongue, and jaw.
Know that anxiety is part of the process. Embrace the idea that butterflies and rapid heartbeats are signs of adrenaline pumping through your body in order to help you perform.
Breathing can relax you and allow oxygen to get to the brain and all of the essential body parts. A slow, gentle candle blowing exhalation will decrease your heartrate and calm you down so the anxiety won’t interfere with your performance. Watch how this can be done for public speaking and sports
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE AND FOCUS
Athletes don’t just stand on the starting block and jump in the water, or run over to the starting line of the track without getting ready, or even serve a ball in tennis or volleyball without first focusing. When you get in front of your audience, establish your presence. Stand up…..take a breath…..look at your audience……smile….Then you are ready!
HIRE A COACH
A coach can help you systematically focus on the necessary skills to help you attain your goals. It’s done in sports, why not have it in public speaking?
Remember these performance objectives and you, too, will be on your way to an Olympic performance!
Contact Successfully Speaking for assistance with your speech and presentations.