On Wednesday evening a group of Improv Connection improvisers, (including yours truly) performed at BATS to a full house. It was a fun show.
Prior to the start of the show, a member of the audience asked me if I was nervous about performing. He looked surprised when I said ‘No.’ I told him I’m a Performance Mind-set Coach, and I specialise in helping people perform in public without fear. I explained I have a bunch of techniques I use to ensure I experience just the right amount of nervous energy to fuel a good performance, and no more.
Those techniques include a number of simple, fast and effective breathing techniques.
You see, one of the first things to change when our brain identifies something (such as speaking or performing in public) as a threat, is our breathing.
When faced with a threat our breathing migrates up in our bodies, and we breathe more rapidly and flatly from our upper chest. This helps pump more oxygen around our body, preparing it to help us survive the threat (through fight or flight).
Shifting our breathing out of this ‘getting ready for action’ state is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reduce our stress level, and that’s why I always start my preparation for a performance with at least one breathing technique.
Slow controlled breathing activates the body’s Relaxation Response which is the opposite of the Stress Response. When we breathe deeply – diaphragmatic breathing – our body sends a message to our brain that we are safe, we’re not actually under threat. So, a couple of minutes of controlled breathing switches off the Stress Response and shifts us into a calm, balanced state.
On Wednesday, just before the audience came in, the performers formed a circle on stage, and we did a simple breathing exercise called ‘Box Breathing.’ It also goes by the name – ‘Navy Seals Breathing,’ because it’s the ‘go to’ technique Navy Seals use in extreme stress situations.
Here’s how to perform Box Breathing:
- exhale for 4 seconds through your mouth. Expel all of the air from your lungs.
- hold your breath for 4 seconds
- inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
- hold the air in your lungs for 4 seconds.
Then start the sequence all over again. Do this whole sequence for a couple of minutes, or for as much time as you have available. I read that Navy Seals do it for up to 20 minutes at a time!
Using this simple technique, you’ll be able to control and reduce your stress level in the middle of any acute stress episode. And when you’re doing it, no one knows you are.
Would you like to transform yourself into a confident public speaker/performer?
If you’d like to break free of your fear of public speaking or performing in public, and transform yourself into a confident, calm, courageous public speaker/performer, then I can help you achieve that transformation.
To explore how I can help you overcome your fears call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email email@example.com and arrange a free, no obligation 30 minute, (phone or skype/zoom) discovery consultation.
I’ll sign off for this week with these wise words:
‘Only those who know how to breathe will survive.‘ ~ Pundit Acharya
P.S. I’m developing a free on-line Public Speaking Anxiety mini-course – with the working title ‘Fear Less Public Speaking – Mastering your worries,’ with an early March 2020 release date. If you’d like to be notified when the course is available just email me with your name – firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the link to the course on launch day.
I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email email@example.com