You’re standing backstage waiting for your name to be called out. You’re up next – you feel a bit sick! There are over five hundred people in the audience waiting to hear you speak. You’re clear on your message. You’ve prepared, you’ve rehearsed and now it’s time. This is a massive opportunity for you. The stakes have never been higher. You know you need to nail this. Then you hear your name, you hear the applause, and in an adrenaline-fuelled haze, you walk onto your stage.
Let me share with you what needs to happen next because what happens next is everything. What happens next will set the trajectory for your entire talk, so we need to get this right.
I want you to convert all that adrenaline into energy allowing it to carry you purposefully into position. I want you to be brave and head towards the scariest but strongest and most powerful position of all, go straight for centre stage. And then, when you’re there, I want you to … GET GROUNDED!
Now, what do I mean by this?
Let’s look at some alternative words that share the same meaning: supported, established, centred, balanced, justified, connected.
I’d like you to think about these words in the context of your talk and your presence on stage. Now imagine if these words were describing the impression you were creating.
Now let’s look at some opposing words: disconnected, floating, scattered, distributed, flighty.
Now I’d like you to think about these words in the context of your talk and your presence on that stage. Imagine if these words were describing the impression you were creating.
Before you do anything else, you must get grounded. Take a moment to plant yourself. Allow yourself to feel connected to your stage, to your environment, to your audience and to yourself.
When you’re grounded you have real presence and real gravitas. When you’re grounded, you’re transmitting a message of confidence, certainty, and credibility. That same message will translate into your actual message, which in turn, will translate into your audience, and the way they feel about you as a speaker and the message you’re communicating. Confident. Certain. Credible.
So, we need to get grounded and stay grounded. Here’s how …
TIP: Practice these steps off stage first and really master the technique before applying them on stage, in front of your live audience.
1. Make sure your legs aren’t crossed and that your feet are flat on the ground (while you’re still getting the hang of this, bare feet always work best).
2. Have your feet hip-width apart, wide enough so that you feel strong and secure in that position. If someone were to give you a push, you should be solid and unmovable.
3. Now plant your feet firmly on the ground, feeling your whole foot connecting with the floor. Rock back and forth a little and notice how your weight is distributed through your feet. Play with what feels most comfortable here until you arrive at your natural centre point.
4. Now shut your eyes, take a nice deep breath and feel that connection with the ground under your feet and imagine the ground supporting you – feel that rock-solid foundation beneath your feet, holding you up.
5. Bend your knees a little and feel the weight of your body, have a little bounce – you want to feel planted but not rigid.
6. Imagine there is a root connecting you to the ground. Think of a sturdy oak tree, with deep roots that balance and nourish. Imagine the energy, an invisible force from the ground running up through your feet and into your body. Feel that energy. Let it course up and down. Let it both fuel you and let it anchor you, always reconnecting you to the ground.
7. Stand up tall and breathe into this position. Memorise this position, this state, this feeling of being grounded.
Next time you’re on your stage, whether your stage is in a big auditorium, a meeting room or your boss’s office, make sure you ground yourself first. You will project power and grace – a heady combination in the world of live communication!