Why You Should Give Away All Your Secrets

anxiety-porsche-brosseauWhen I recorded the first episode of my new podcast last week my wife and friends were in the studio to cheer me on. Silently. With their eyes. Although my wife did put her head in her hands several times. But she’s from the Midwest, and maybe that’s how they cheer you on there.

The truth is, they were so wrong. I can think of only one time in my life when I was not anxious sitting behind a microphone. I was working for a radio station in Northern California and had just turned in my two weeks’ notice. I had ten morning shows left to do and I wasn’t tense for a single one of them. Of course, I walked my way through the shows with as little energy as I could muster. I screwed my audience and acted like the unprofessional, petulant little brat I was (then).

The Secret is No Secrets

I’ve seen many blog posts and articles on how to reduce tension before a speech or performance, but there’s one technique I’ve rarely seen written about.

Share your secret.

Come on, don’t say, “What secret?” The secret that’s generating the most tension in you:

  • you’re afraid your show won’t be up to par;
  • you didn’t sleep well last night and you have no energy;
  • you had a fight with your partner and the dog took your partner’s side.

I don’t mean you need to blurt out, “Hey, my show is going to suck today.” Share your secret in a way consistent with your personality. You know what you’d say to your spouse or close friend. Start there. For example, if my wife and I had a little row, I would probably say, “I think it’s going to be a strange show today. My wife and I had a fight and the dog took my wife’s side. He’s so angry at me he won’t even let me in the doghouse.” Maybe the joke works, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s who I am . What’s important is I’ve shared a secret with my listeners.

Get Your Listeners Behind You

Whether they agree with me or my wife, they’re going to be rooting for me now because they know I want to do a good show. I’ve got them on my side and I’m no longer afraid that I might screw up if my mind wanders back to that tiff. If I make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. The audience will forgive a minor slip or two.

I’ve used this technique on the air, when I was performing stand-up comedy, when speaking at workshops and sales meetings —even once when I emceed a beauty pageant in a tuxedo and white running socks—and it’s never failed to release the energy I was using to bottle up my secret and so I could put that energy into my performance. Give it a try and let me know if it helps you.

Leave a comment or click here to send me a personal message. And, if you have another technique for getting past those pre-show butterflies share by leaving a comment.

No secrets here.

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