If you struggle with stage fright or tripping over your words, this episode is for you. In this podcast I’m going to give you my strategies for getting past that little voice in your head that says “don’t be such a dumb dumb” so you can start being yourself on your podcast.
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Warm up before you record
Warming up is so important for performance of any kind. Start by just talking to yourself about anything – what you ate for breakfast maybe, and what you liked (or didn’t like) about it. Get comfortable with hearing the sound of your own voice for at least 10 minutes before you record so that you don’t startle yourself at “showtime”.
Physical warmups are also a great idea, because they can burn off some of that nervous energy you might feel especially before recording an interview. Do a few jumping jacks, or maybe just dance to a Beyoncé song. Actually – pick your favourite hype up song and just sing it to yourself! But be careful to not strain your voice because that would suck.
- Tongue twisters
- Have a conversation with yourself about what you ate for breakfast
- Sing and dance to your favourite hype up song
- Do a few jumping jacks
Have your notes handy but don’t just read them
We all learn this in school (presumably) that it’s better to present TO the class instead of AT the class. Reading from a paper or teleprompter just isn’t engaging for your audience, unless you are Ron Burgundy. Your focus will turn inwards and it will make your face tighten up. This will make your body tense up. Your voice will sound like it’s being pushed through an extruder instead of flowing naturally out of your mouth.
If you’re finding it to be challenging to not read your notes directly off the page, start by listing bullet points instead. Take time between each bullet point to make sure you said what you needed to say, and then move on. You can always edit this out in post, I do it allllll the time.
Another trick I use is to look directly into the camera lens because I also film my podcast episodes. I pretend that I’m looking into someone’s eyes the same way I would if I was having a normal conversation. If you’re not filming yourself, you could try looking at a picture of a friend to pretend you’re having a conversation with them, or, you could set up a mirror and speak directly to yourself.
When you’re starting out, try recording the same episode a few times
It definitely doesn’t need to be perfect! Sometimes, the act of doing the thing you’re afraid of, even if the output is awful, is exactly what you need to do in order to feel comfortable with it.
Being on mic or on camera is definitely one of those things.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t totally nervous all the time when I start setting up my gear to record. The first episode I ever recorded actually took me 3-4 tries to get it right – and I was talking about the thing I knew best! MY LIFE!
Knowing that you can simply re-record something will 100% take the pressure off, AND it will allow you to feel much more comfortable and confident the more you do it. It’s a win-win!
If you stumble over your words, accept it and move on
There’s nothing like effing up in front of a whole bunch of people and feeling like a total ding dong. And I do it ALLLL THE TIME! I’m not even just talking about a little stutter here or there, but like full-blown random tangents that end up with me saying something totally stupid and out of left field!
Luckily I’m recording on my own most of the time. When I’m interviewing people, I get the sense that I’ve said something totally wrong, and I’ve messed up the flow of the show.
In order to move past these awkward moments, I’ll call myself out and either say something like “wow that’s an impressive way to phrase that” or “aaaand I’m just going to rephrase what I said!” and I’ll cut it out later.
It happens to everyone, it’s cool man! It’s all good!
If you feel like you’re in over your head, double down on your enthusiasm to learn
This is especially hard for interviews. Sometimes your guest will start talking very eloquently about things you’ve never heard of or that you didn’t prepare for, and you need to think quickly and improvise some new questions.
If you catch yourself feeling totally lost, choose a point that sounds very interesting to you, and ask your guest to elaborate on it. This will give you a moment to catch up with them so that you can reorganize your thoughts and ask a more robust follow up question. Just keep on asking questions!
Pretend you’re talking to a super close friend or sibling
Picture the person you are most comfortable with and have the most fun with, and pretend you’re talking to them. By visualizing yourself in a situation where you feel totally at ease and relaxed, you can carry though that energy in your voice, and it sounds GREAT.
This also leads into another important piece, which is to (for the most part) stay positive throughout. Obviously there are going to be topics that you don’t particularly feel like smiling about, but like anything, if you start thinking negative thoughts it will show – and it absolutely comes through in audio.
Think about the tone you want to set, and adjust your actual face to match it. Fun = smiling. Serious = serious. Fun never equals no smiling. Smiling’s my favourite.
If you totally zone out because you’re nervous, practice bringing yourself back to your main focus. Don’t be hard on yourself, it happens.
I’m always totally out to lunch. Not on purpose I promise! You know when everyone’s going around introducing themselves and you’re coming up next and the panic just gets worse and worse and you completely zone out because the only thing you can think of right now is “WHAT IS MY NAME AND WHAT DO I DO?” yeah. That.
It happens during interviews too. There’s a very simple fix for this, and it is to just accept that you’ve drifted, come back to the focal point, and move on. Don’t be hard on yourself, it’s all good.
Take a deep breath
Remember that you are 100% amazing and so frickin’ cool – people want to be around you. They want to hear from you. So let them have it!