Friday, March 9, 2012

"Think On Your Feet"

A recent article from McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers said it right...

Put some people in a pressure-packed situation and, just like that,
they turn into MacGyver ready with a plan of action
before anyone else gets a chance to say,
Now let's think about this for a moment.”

Then there are those of us who
come up with a snappy comeback the day after the conversation,
who stare blankly like the proverbial deer in the headlights
when we're put on the spot.
It's very uncomfortable, even embarrassing.
And we'd give be able to think
on our feet”!

When I was a little girl, my family was “church oriented”... attending
both Sunday services, Bible Study and Prayer Meetings during the week.
My parents, musically inclined, often sang duets at the Sunday services.  
When we were old enough, my sister and I were encouraged, prodded, even forced to sing with them. I was SO TERRIFIED to stand before the audience,
that prior to this performance I had to endure, I was a “beehive of nerves”... preferring much to crawl beneath the pew to not only hide, but to disappear!  
NO was Not an Option! After our “quartet on stage” I'd sit in my seat...and 
cry, cry, cry! This occurred many, many, times! I believe my parents didn't understand WHY I was so disturbed over this ado! Their solution was to 
continue, continue, continue...I'd just need to “get over it”!
Today, as an adult, I could decipher the reason(s) and take methods to
overcome such situations.

Easy Ways to “Think on Your Feet”

The writer suggests 7 methods to overcome this stage fright:

Take a Deep Breath: If you feel yourself starting to freeze up, the first step toward regaining control is to ...pause and take a deep breath. Picture yourself in a comfortable, friendly, non-threatening place with the people you care about. This will give you the composure and presence of mind to make a better choice 
to respond to the situation.

Remember, You're the Expert: When giving a presentation or leading a group, there's probably a pretty good reason for it and it's probably because you're incredibly well qualified to be in that situation at the moment. When you need to make a presentation, remember that you know more about what you are going 
to say than anyone else...YOU are the expert! 
So, just have conversation with your audience as though you were talking 
with your spouse, your child or close friend.

Way, back when? I was learning/studying Fashion Co-Ordinating from Verna Williams' Modelling Studio. Pertinent to this knowledge was “runway work” which I hadn't anticipated. She had arrangements with Malls to present 
seasonal Fashion Shows for the clothiers on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. This was excellent experience for her “students”. At the first show, 
I was extremely nervous! The Walk, the Turns (which must be executed precisely), the “Attitude” given to the public and the Sell this Outfit” being worn to the viewers. Sensing my tenseness, Verna advised,You'll do well! If you make a mistake...only You and I alone will recognize it! You know more about Modelling than any shopper watching you! Enjoy the Clothes you wear!  Enjoy the Show!

I was so intent on performing, correctly. Her advice instilled in me, great Confidence! Unknown to me, Verna was grooming a few of us in her 
specialized course...forfashion shows” that we would be assembling,
arranging with the designated stores and staging on her behalf.
Participating in hers, gave us the ability to contact the clothiers involved, 
assign the outfits to the models given to us...write the commentary and prepare the music. Publicity for these the merchants.

Imagine an Empty Room: If embracing your expertise doesn't put you at ease, many people have success just pretending no one is there to listen to them. Mentally, block out your audience and just start talking or carrying out your task.

                  I have learned to “talk to one person” in the audience, looking
                  eye-to-eye; then select another face to whom to speak. 
                  This lessened my apprehension considerably.

Practise a Power Move: Have you ever seen a basketball player dribble 
three timesbefore shooting a free throw, or a baseball player go through an elaborate routine before stepping into the batter's box? These are called “power moves” and you can use a similar approach to high-pressure situations. 
It can be as simple as touching two of your fingers together. The key is getting yourself in a “power frame of mind” and do these moves over and over again until they're ingrained.

Phone a Friend: If you hit a mental block, sometimes the best way to get past
it is to reach out to someone else. Usually a 10 to 20 minute conversation 
will do the trick. It might be helpful to have a “go-go-guy” on standby before 
a big project or event.

Get a Good Night's Sleep: Nothing can fry your nerves or kill your ability 
to think quickly, quite like being tired. Get plenty of rest, so you'll be sharp
on your feet. Fatigue tends to exacerbate any form of anxiety.

Eliminate Anxiety Producers: Try troubleshooting your overall lifestyle to eliminate those things that clog your thinking. These can include caffeine, excessive alcohol and cigarettes.

Convinced I am, that any...maybe all my readers have their own
methods of overcoming anxieties as stated above.
When giving a talk or presentation,
I have a "cheat sheet" before me ...
with points in chronological order that become
"memory joggers" which I can see at a glance.

When in Grade 5, we were required to give a 5 to 10 minute talk to the class.
The topic, we had to advise the teacher be approved for presentation.
Since we were not allowed to read it, I selected a topic that would provide me
the major points to cover. I had seen in a magazine...believe it or not...cartoon
images with several pictures of “A Trip to the Moon”...purely conjecture at that
time...and considered totally imaginary!

I re-drew these pictures on cardboard about 12” x 18” in colour as shown in the
cartoon... about eight or 10 of them! These, not only gave me the “prompts” for
my talk, but were of keen fascination to the class...and to the Teacher. Where needed, I wrote information on the back of the picture as I held up each one 
for my classmates.

Pearl of Wisdom”
To understand is to conquer or at least survive;
but, without knowledge, one is helpless.
(Iris Johansen...from her novel...The Wind Dancer)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written December 19, 2011
Comments always appreciated ... scroll down (may sign in as “anonymous”)

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