The Pitch Coach
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The Pitch Coach

5 Steps to controlling adrenaline.

Casey Horn, Unsplash

Over the years I have seen Adrenaline controlled and channelled and used to create stunning moments of freedom in speaking. I have also seen it destroy presentations. Here are 5 steps to control it and use it to your advantage

1. See the enemy

Adrenaline is an enemy hiding in plain sight, in your speech patterns and the words you use, in the pauses you don’t do well, in the sentences you never end. If you can say “I am not any good at speaking” then Adrenaline remains hidden and has already won the war. You can’t deal with something that pretends it isn’t there. You have to shine a light on it.

Write down the top 5 things you do when you present that are not good — mumbling, no breathing, jargon speaking, etc. See these 5 things as coming not from your lack of skill, but from the enemy — as a defense mechanism. Keep the list handy for the second step.

2. Name your Gremlin.

Silenzio Bruno!

In the Disney film “Luca” there is wonderful moment where the main character is terrified of riding his bike down a hill to a cliff edge with a ramp. He wants to do it, he knows the jump will be amazing but he is frozen with fear. His friend introduces him to Bruno -

“You got a Bruno in your head. I get one too sometimes. He says ‘Alberto you can’t. Alberto you’re gonna die”.

His solution — to shout out loud “Silenzio Bruno” as they both get on the bike and ride down the hill to the biggest jump of their life! If Disney do it, and I do, now it’s your turn to do it. In the page below I want you to use your pen to name your Bruno, your gremlin. Unlike Disney I want you to make them the same sex as you and same initials.

Now write down three accusations that he/she says to you regularly. They might read something like this:

Accusation 1: “You are over the the top”

Accusation 2: “You don’t know what you are talking about”

Accusation 3: “Nobody likes you”.

Go ahead — name your gremlin and write down those accusations.

3. Create new rules.

Jordan B Peterson in his book 12 Rules for life puts it like this: “People need ordering principles … chaos otherwise beckons”. I couldn’t agree more. Now don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of spontaneity and colouring outside the lines. In improvisation shows you have to have rules — guiding principles that keep it safe. In story-telling, you already have the rules you need to live by to keep adrenaline under control. And we are going to uncover them right now.

On that same piece of paper create new rules/vision statements to flip your Gremlin’s accusation . Write them down. Here is an example of what I have done:

Accusation 1: “You are over the the top”

Positive rule 1: “I am a powerful, engaging speaker and have the right amount of energy to bring people alive”.

Accusation 2: “You don’t know what you are talking about”

Positive rule 2: “I know how to help unlock people and will draw on those tools with confidence”.

Accusation 3: “Nobody likes you”.

Positive rule 3: “I bring warmth and joy to the screen, regardless of what I think people feel about me”.

Put them on a post it note where you can see them every time you present on screen. It will hold you to a higher standard than the whims of adrenaline.

4. Learn new habits

In “The Inner Game of Tennis” tennis coach Timothy Gallway helps his clients observe themselves and get them into the flow. So now would be a good opportunity for you to watch my pocketcoach global training. Day 1 is about content and day 2 is about delivery. You will recognise the Hero’s Journey in Day 1. All of the exercises are “Watch, don’t think, do” exercises. They will help you grasp the skill of storytelling, observe yourselves and understand what it feels like to be in the flow.

5. Practise makes permanent.

My grandad had a stoop from when he worked in the mines. He never got physio to sort it out so eventually that stoop became part of his everyday walking, living and breathing. His body learnt to permanently stoop. But it could have all been different. This coaching we are doing right now is the physio my grandad never had. Let’s imagine that you came to this book with a stoop you were not aware of, or you were aware of but you felt you had to live with. The great news is that you don’t have to live with it. If you want to, you no longer have to accept the stoop, to limp your way through a presentation. You can stand tall and unlock your voice. Keep repeating steps 1 to 4 and you will permanently be able to control adrenaline and speak like you want to!

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Stewart Bewley

Stewart Bewley

I began life as an actor, started my own presentation company, Amplify (https://amplify.me.uk/). I love Flat Whites.