As a professional Vocal Coach for many years, I have observed many of the performers and public speakers I worked with being held back by nerves and insecurity.
The one thing they all had in common? They all had a valuable message, one that often got covered and had no chance of coming out due their nervousness, and physical reactions of the body, (shaking, freezing, heart palpitations, forgetting words) overriding what they had to say.
For some, the nervousness that comes along with public speaking and performing can be incredibly debilitating, frustrating and often heart-breaking. Speaking is one of the key ways in which we express ourselves and relate to others, and a vital expression of your being.
You may be surprised to learn that some of the reactions you have to speaking and performing have likely been created from a very young age. Think back if you can, to the very first time you were exposed to public speaking. How aware were you of being judged, and what were your reactions to this, in your mind and body? What if this has been perpetuated ever since as an automatic-pilot whenever you are public speaking, without you being consciously aware?
We are so used to defining and judging behaviour instead of wondering what is truly going on for us. Questions like, “Are you nervous?” already imply what might be going on and now only gives us the possibility to agree with that or not. They don’t invite ourselves to get more clarity on what is actually going on for us inside, and, so often trap us in a problem we now have to solve.
What if you could utilise the experiences of good and bad that you are feeling, and use them to energise you into moving forward, to be successful with the outcome in what you are trying to achieve?
After many many sessions I started seeing that every time something occurred that seemed to be a problem, it was exactly the same point a different possibility was about to show up! Nerves most of the time are a level of power that is ready for us to harness – if not we do not try to hold back.
So what can you do with all of that to power you forward instead of holding you back? Here are the 2 steps to assist you in moving beyond the frustration and paralysis of nervousness, into the ease and joy of the true expression you:
Detect what is true for you.
Is this nerves or something else?
We have learned to put labels on feelings through other people’s projections or points of views. These are usually based on their own personal experiences, and have not so much to do with what is really going on for us. If you desire to change those, you will have to look at what is really going on not what you think is going on. By asking yourself, “Is this my nerves or something else I need to observe here?” you are going to start to invite other options beyond just the feeling or emotion you are experiencing.
Who does this belong to?
Our bodies often give us information about other people’s bodies around us, maybe behind the scenes, and maybe in your audience. Don’t automatically assume that because you feel an emotion, that it is yours! The biggest difficulty with this, is that what isn’t yours you cannot control. I’ve had many clients losing it on stage, until they started asking themselves, “What is my body aware off? Is there anyone else in the room feeling this?” After asking those questions for themselves, many of them started releasing, relaxing and could finally show up with their full capacity. By asking yourself, “If I didn’t know this feeling or sensation as nerves, what could I do with it? What would I be able to see that I am currently not?”
Connect more to your body, not less.
Learn to become aware of the sensations in your body and sense of light or heavy, rather than waiting for the answer to come to you immediately.
Most of us have learned to work towards perfection, pressure, rightness and a contraction to make things happen. I suggest you take a moment and try out completely the opposite. Start seeing what will make you relax, expand, and create space for you instead of contraction. Which is gives you the sensation of feeling light for you, is often true, which makes you heavy usually isn’t. So, when you ask yourself a question, and you want to find out what is true for you, give yourself 2 or 3 options and see which one opens up more. You can rely on your body, or your breathing, whichever works best for you. Your body will likely give you signs of what is light and what is heavy.
When we get ‘nerves’ most of us have learned to try to control them by going into our heads, and thoughts, and often lose connection to our bodies. What if instead of getting less connected to your body, you could actually invite yourself to get more connected and present with your body?
You can do this by a simple exercise of putting both feet on the ground, and to take a few deep, slow breaths, while imagining that you take every breath all the way down to your feet into the ground and when you let the air out, imagine taking with you the energy and strength of the earth. Do this a few times so you don’t stop the nerves, but you actually allow that energy and feeling to move.
Most of us have learned to talk and perform with our minds. What if you start trusting your body more, and use the ‘negative’ feelings you have about your nerves to be harnessed into a source of strength? Through taking these steps, by starting to ask yourself what is true for you, train yourself to follow the lightness and calm, to connect to your body. What might be possible for you and your voice if you were to go beyond the frustration and anxiety that nervousness can bring?
This guest post was authored by Yasodhara Romero Fernandes
Yasodhara is a professional performer, vocal coach, performance and communications expert, bodyworker, former teacher and certified Access Consciousness & Right Voice for You facilitator. She hosts workshops and private classes around the world, helping people open up to the power of authentic communication and authentic living – and to connect to their body and in life effortlessly. www.yasodhararomerofernandes.com