Genetic Scientist Daffodil Hudson studies the genetic factors that influence shyness, stage fright, and performance anxiety- she suffers from them herself. If that wasn't cool enough, she and the folks at TED wrote a mini-musical about overcoming the presentation anxiety involved in giving a TED Talk.
When you are in the throws of presentation nerves, it certainly doesn't feel like something to sing about. In fact, it feels more like you're hurtling towards your own death. (Trust us- we get it!) Even though your audience may not be able to perceive how you're feeling on the inside (no one in your audience can actually SEE your heart race...), you can feel it every step of the way. But who doesn't love laughing in the face of fear? You may remember when we shared Joe Kowan's TED Talk and his stage fright song- Joe tackled his stage fright by acknowledging it, having a laugh, and writing a song about it. Daffodil Hudson and the TED folks wrote a 5 minute musical that works much the same way.
But it's not just about fun. Watch the video, and catch our list of the 10 best tips it showcases. Enjoy the show!
Top 10 Tips from "Giving a Talk- a Musical"
1. After Daffodil gets the call from TED the first thing she says is "I have to prepare!" Pre-presentation preparation is key to dealing with stage fright. (Extra funny points for her colleague who says "Who's TED?")
2. Who doesn't relate to the procrastination montage? Sometimes you need to step away for a bit to refresh your brain, but when you're just putting off the work all together? You're not going to get the job done. Giving some structure to your preparation and rehearsal goes a long way towards keeping you on task.
3. "Let's get ready for main stage/It's your time to shine." Remember, when you're presenting, it's an opportunity to be authentically YOU. While it can be great to look for ideas and inspiration from others (more on that later), think of your presentation in terms of bringing your unique self to your audience. A lot of pressure and anxiety can mount when you feel you have to be someone or something you're not.
4. "Your slides are bad/But your idea is good." That simple lyric says way more than you think! Lots of people stress over their slide deck. Yes, of course you want it to be great, but it's there to support YOU. If you spend all of your time worrying over your slide deck, you won't have much time to prepare anything else.
5. The warm up montage, complete with Ovation approved exercises! This little section, where the singers are helping Daffodil through a physical warm up, shows that even if you feel a bit odd jumping around and making faces, it is going to help when it comes to reducing anxiety. Actors warm up before shows all of the time, and you may already be doing it without noticing- do you calm down by taking a walk, going to the gym, or practicing some yoga? Same idea.
6. They demonstrate neutral position! You can see Daffodil and the singer practicing their strong neutral. Comfort in your neutral position conveys confidence and gives you somewhere to physically return to when you feel the nerves creeping in.
7. "Ready to practice one more time?/Right now?!" Give yourself something to focus on, other than your nerves, before you step out there. Tongue twisters are very useful- they act as a warm up for your voice and speech muscles. You can also run through an especially tricky section in your presentation. You get some extra rehearsal in, and distract your mind from simply thinking about your nerves.
8. Find inspiration in others. Towards the end there is a section where they sing "You must be sweet like Brene Brown/ You must be funny like Ken Robinson..." As we mentioned above, the only person you MUST be is you- so take that pressure off! However, the point of this section is to feel empowered by great speakers. And they certainly mention some of our favorites in that list.
9. "We'll edit out the mistakes that you make!" The great gag with the giant scissors is a good reminder to let go of the idea of making mistakes. Sure, your presentation might not have a video editor. But what if it did? You'd realize that, if something goes wrong, it's not a huge deal- you can just roll with it and keep going! Try giving your next presentation with the mindset that any mistakes can be edited out in post (even if they can't...). Before you know it, you'll be free of "mistake anxiety" for good.
10. When all else fails sing and dance. Singing and dancing helps. (Didn't you feel better by the end of the video?)
Our thanks to everyone at TED and Daffodil Hudson!