Do you ever get nervous about something? I know I do. Today, I want to share a simple trick with you that has helped me overcome that in just about every situation.
You see, I know the terror that can quickly flood a person’s body at the thought of public speaking. I know the adrenaline that makes one want to run. I know the sweat that starts to dampen one’s brow as a big moment approaches. I know the dry mouth. I know the jitters. I know the shakes.
I remember in High School, I wanted to do something I’d never had the guts to do. Try out for a solo in choir. To do this meant going in front of 150 of my peers and singing. Alone. All… by… myself.
The first time the opportunity came up, I knew the solo was a little too high for me. But, for some reason, I still walked down and stood in line. When my turn came, I’ll never forget my hands, clutching tightly to the sheet music, shaking so badly that my terror couldn’t be kept secret. I squeaked something out and went and sat down. I’ll never forget the sweet words of my choir teacher as she simply said, “it can be pretty scary getting up in front of this many people”. The way she said it was so loving and it somehow helped me feel normal. I’ll always love Miss J. Later that year another solo opportunity came-up. This time it was in my range. It was something in which I felt confident. I got the part. I’ll never forget her words, “Dan, the solo is yours”. She had this way of saying things in just the right way and at just the right time. At least for me.
They’re bad, and they affect most of us at certain times. Maybe it’s asking that special somebody on a date. Maybe it’s standing in front of the judges at a competition. Maybe it’s waiting for news from the doctor.
Because my career forced me to speak publicly and constantly be at center stage, I bought a book a few years back called Smart Speaking – 60-Second Strategeies for more than 100 Speaking Problems and Fears.
In it, I learned a trick that solved my nervousness problem in every situation I have been in since. It’s simple. Choose your nervous habit. We all have nervous habits. For some of us it’s running our hands through our hair. For some of us it’s shaking our legs. For some of us it’s uncontrollable breathing. There are many others that are common.
Instead of letting your body control you, simply take control of your body. Be okay about the fact that you are nervous, and then decide what you will do to deal with those nerves. The habit that they suggested, and the one I use constantly, is simple. Pinch your middle finger and your thumb together with as much force as you can. Then release.
Every time I feel nerves coming, I pinch those digits together, and it pushes the nerves away again. It’s as if I’m channeling every bit of anxiety away from my body and out through my fingers.
I thought I had licked “serious nervousness” completely. Boy, was I wrong. The first time I did a radio interview as Single Dad Laughing, I sat there for a good fifteen minutes beforehand, breathing, pinching my thumb and middle finger together over and over until the nerves died down. I hadn’t been that nervous in years. I felt like that kid in choir again. Turns out it wasn’t much different than debating something with a friend, and I’ve not had that problem with radio interviews since.
I just love this technique because it’s something that nobody can see you do. It’s something you can do as often as you need, and it’s something you can feel like you’re controlling.
Just try it. Next time you are getting nervous about anything, just pinch.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
What is your favorite way to deal with nerves, and when do you tend to get the most nervous?