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Free article no. 134
DEALING WITH SELF-INDUCED STRESS
by J.A. Gamache
Third place Champion at the 2001 Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking
I learned an important lesson when I first presented my inspirational keynote entitled “Cross the line!”. When striving for perfection, we can sometimes create our own stress.
After many years as an amateur speaker, I had accumulated enough material to give a strong sixty-minute speech.
One day, the president of a company saw my free presentation and was thrilled with it; so much so that he hired me on the spot to present it to his employees.
I was nervous. It was the first time I was being paid a professional speaking fee, so disappointing my client was out of the question! I interviewed him, adapted my presentation to his employees’ needs, and then organized a rehearsal in front of a dozen people.
The rehearsal was a disaster! I was shaking like a leaf and my mouth ran dry. I had lost my usual stamina and was constantly looking at my notes because I was forgetting my text.
And the real presentation was only two days away!!!
Can you imagine how hard I worked over the next two days? I practiced my speech over and over again.
On the day of my presentation, just as I was announced to the audience, I realized that my notes were still in the car. Instead of panicking, I said to myself: “Tough luck. You know your text, and if you forget, you’ll just improvise.” So I went on stage.
That interior dialog was the turning point that made all the difference. Unlike rehearsal day, I didn’t worry about being perfect, and most of my stress vanished away.
My speech was a success. Of course I forgot a small part of my text, but the audience couldn’t tell. Having already put in all the hard work, I was able to relax on the floor and allow myself to perform without my notes.
This message is for perfectionists like me. Wanting to avoid mistakes at all costs during the performance may be the cause of your stress. It was a blessing that I forgot my notes that day. Instead of trying to be a flawless speaker, I was myself, and that made the day perfect!
©MMXI J.A. Gamache www.jagamache.com. All rights reserved.
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This article was reproduced from “Speaking in Public with J.A.”, a FREE electronic magazine authored by J.A. Gamache, International Inspirational Speaker. To subscribe to his FREE e-zine or to find out more about his presentations, visit: http://www.jagamache.com.