Staring at a rainbow and taking deep breaths seems like a great way to calm yourself, to get centered before you have to be on. But not always. I can still remember my first examples of a successful person preparing to perform.
First, when I was young enough to say “Eeeuuuuwwwwww” and then chuckle, my father told me that basketball legend Bill Russell threw up before every game. Later, I saw a retrospective of some sort on TV about Judy Garland. There was a moment in the show when you saw her backstage, years after her trip over the rainbow, swaying to the power of the orchestra before she stepped through the curtains to greet her adoring fans.
I have grown to describe actions like those as “calmers,” even though up-chucking before donning your Chuck Taylors may not fit everyone’s idea of something that makes you calm before you have to be “on.” But if you’ve ever thrown up, you’ll remember how it quickly quiets a world of stomach upset.
A calmer is anything that calms your nerves, wherever they may be in your body, so that you can do your own version of performing. In other words, they ease your performance anxiety. Your performance doesn’t have to be on a traditional stage. It can be the toast at your friend’s wedding, a work presentation, or a media interview.
Some of my favorite calmers (I’ve used them, or they've been used by someone I know): hand washing, using the bathroom followed by hand washing, separating from everyone for a couple of minutes of quiet, separating with a warm beverage, physical or vocal warm-up exercises. Many people combine a few of them.
I’m going to touch on calmers a bit this Friday, June 6th, 8:00 a.m. ET, as the featured speaker at the Community Business Partnership’s First Friday Business Breakfast. These events are held in Springfield, VA, and are always enlightening. I’m very excited about this opportunity to present Let Communication’s “Dynamic Duo’’ Fuel Your Media Message.
We’re going to have fun putting a few of the attendees in the hot seat. You could be one of them. If you’ve read this post, at least you’ll be a bit ahead of the game.
See you Friday!