Andrew Luck was the Number 1 pick in the most recent NFL draft. By most accounts, that rates him as the best new player in the league. He played his first (preseason) game this week, starting to earn some of the $14.52 MILLION paid to sign and the $4+ MILLION a year ($250,000 per GAME) to play. He’s an accomplished, experienced (for his age), and very capable young man on the football field.
He admitted he was nervous before the game. In sports lingo, he had ‘butterflies’. “That’s something that I’ve always had before a football game,” Luck said. “After the first play it tends to go away.”
It’s a similar condition to most speakers. One of the most common things I get asked is how to be more confident when speaking and how to get rid of the anxiety. My answer surprises most people: “I don’t care if you’re nervous. I just want you to be good.”
Are Andrew Luck’s coaches/owners/fans/family concerned that he gets nervous? Not a bit. They just want him to throw touchdowns (which he did on his first play). They don’t care about his heart rate; they focus on his QB rating (an amazing 142.7 — perfect would be 158.3) and whether the team wins.
Focusing on being nervous/fearful is putting the attention on the wrong thing. Are you GOOD (GREAT?)? Did the audience retain your content and respond? Those are better questions. And it’s easier to get answers.
Oh. One more thing. Those that find out how to speak well and do it, they usually become more confident. Usually.
Get your mind off the fear; focus instead on the performance and results.
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Nervousness is a reminder for me to renew my mind prior to speaking. I need to re-focus on why I’m there and the audience I desire to reach, rather than on myself. It’s not about me. That helps me to relax and keep eye contact with my listeners.
You are so right. It’s a constant battle of our mind to make it about us. It’s just an easy trap. Some people have different flash points for nervousness (large group, strangers, peers, no preparation, too much time to prepare, …) which makes it nearly impossible to eliminate. But I like your thoughts of making it a trigger to put the focus on what should be our priority — our audience.
Thanks for reading.
In high school, I’d get a bit nervous before a test. When teaching school, I’d get a bit nervous on the first day. In delivering training, I get a bit nervous every time. To me the nerves are a sign of being present–no going through the motions here, they’re getting my best effort. And they’re a reminder that I’m not in this alone–I get to do something I absolutely love to do because my colleagues have sold the training and made sure the materials got there and set me up for success with the client. And like Mr. Luck, once I’m engaged with those around me, the butterflies disappear.