Preparing for the Big Stage

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Summary of Main Ideas

I’ve given hundreds of speeches, but every so often, I get nervous before a big speech.


I always get excited before speeches. I always get butterflies. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the feeling you get in your stomach when the plane hits turbulence and drops unexpectedly.


This is usually the case before I speak on bigger stages, in front of bigger crowds, who are experiencing me and my message for the first time. So what do I do? How do I control the nerves?


1. Commit that Stage to the Cold Shower

Every morning, I take a 60 second ice cold shower. It’s the most invigorating part of my day, and it sets me up for success and lets me attack the day with purpose.


When the nerves hit, I use that 60 second shower to visualize the stage. I visualize every aspect of my speech. From the intro music, to the way I walk, the hand shake, and most importantly, the intro.  


The intro of my speech is typically where I get the most nervous, and I find that by really nailing and honing in on those 3-5 minutes, I better prepare myself. And when you are prepared for something, you can overcome anything.


2. Count Breathing

I learned a breathing technique a few years back that I use before every big speech. Right before I take the stage, I take a 4 second breath in, hold it for 4 seconds, release it for 4 seconds, then hold that for 4 seconds.

I repeat that process a few times, depending on how much time I have. When my breathing is under control, the rest of me falls in line too.

3. Have a Trigger

For me, it’s northern lights black spruce essential oil. I put it on my wrists, and my neck. It’s what winning smells like, and I use it before every speech. It’s a sensory trigger that lets me know that it’s time to go out and deliver.


Whatever your big stage is, as you head into it, prepare before you get there. When you get there, breathe, center yourself, and have some type of trigger.


Then step up to the plate, and deliver


“By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your sensory trigger? What does winning look/smell/feel like to you?

  2. What anxiety is standing in your way that you need to ‘commit to the cold shower?’

  3. Where have you seen failure due to lack of preparation? What steps could you have taken to better prepare? How would the outcome have differed?