As part of a warm-up routine before giving a presentation or talk, I suggest students use music. Once I asked a class if they were already in the habit of including music—either listening to or singing along—before speaking. A man we’ll call Theo raised his hand. He said, “Yes, I play Whenever You Come Around by Vince Gill a couple of times and sing along in the car on the way to an event where I have to speak.”
Now this gentleman had some major fear issues related to speaking before a group. You can hear it in how he worded his response of “where I HAVE to speak.” He was filled with speaking anxiety and could find no joy in sharing his message; it was just something he had to do as part of his job.
Our conversation went on something like this:
Me: Theo, I think you need a better song choice.
Me: I do believe the chorus of that song goes something like: “I get weak in the knees; and I lose my breath. Oh I try to speak but the words won’t come I’m so scared to death.”
Theo: Yes, that’s right.
Me: The idea of using music before speaking is to influence ourselves in a positive way. With that song you’re setting up yourself to have shaky knees and no voice.
Theo: But I really like to sing that song.
Me: Great! Here’s what you do. AFTER your next presentation, find a place that has karaoke, sign up, and when your turn comes, belt it out. But find something else to sing as part of your warm-up routine.
As part of our presentation pre-game routine, we need to think like a motivated athlete. Let’s pump it up and not wallow around. Be in the YES attitude, not the WELL, MAYBE attitude.
You may be asking yourself right now, “What’s on your presentation pre-game playlist, Norma?” I’ll share a few at the bottom of this post, but I don’t want you to just use mine since this needs to be personal. What speaks to you? What motivates you?
There are so many musical genres and my list is wide-ranging. It includes French organ music (Widor’s Toccata), soul man James Brown’s I Feel Good, and several inspiring religious songs such as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
As my good friend Marybeth likes to say, “You are what you listen to.”
So please be sure to exclude all those sad country songs from your playlist. And yes, before you ask, that includes Willy Nelson singing Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.