Everyone gets nervous doing something. The mere thought of getting on a roller coaster, even a kid's one, makes my whole body feel like it's preparing for certain death. Other people can't fathom getting within a quarter mile of a cow without running away screaming. Some people are unable to walk into a mall without experiencing claustrophobia.And then there are those who have an instant panic attack when I mention guesting on a radio or TV program. These folks would rather bungee jump into the Grand Canyon without a safety harness than get behind a microphone.
The people I'm talking about may not necessarily be shy or withdrawn. Even those with the gift of gab at parties can clam up and break into a cold sweat when they imagine being on the air.If you recognize yourself in that last scenario, you do have an obstacle to deal with, but it is not insurmountable.The first step in your road to recovery is to learn how to use your diaphragm. No, not the birth control device, (that's out of my area of expertise), but the muscle located at the top of the rib cage and beneath your breastbone.
Start by standing or sitting up straight. Place your hand on top the diaphragm and breathe in deeply while pushing the diaphragm out fully. Then breathe out slowly while feeling the diaphragm push in.
Practice this whenever you can; while watching TV, waiting in line at the bank, or at the fast food drive-through. With practice, your diaphragm will develop and become as hard as any other muscle you exercise.A well-developed diaphragm will not only make your voice stronger and more energetic, it will keep you calm and centered during an interview as well.
When we're nervous, we tend to hyperventilate and breathe in a shallow manner from the top of the chest. This causes us to feel as if we're not getting enough air, making our heart beat faster. Then begins a frightening chain of events that may cumulate into an anxiety attack. And the worst place for this is happen is on the air in the middle of an interview!.
Whenever you feel anxiety coming on during an interview, take some slow, deep diaphragmic breaths. The feeling that as much air as you need is there for you will help calm you down. And the breaths themselves have a meditative and focusing effect. Trust me on this one. Just because I've worked on-air for 22 years doesn't mean I'm immune to nervousness!.Being nervous is also a function of not knowing what to say or not knowing where to go next.
If you keep a short, clear outline of your main points in front of you (or in your mind in the case of TV) you'll have much more of a safety net to rely on. It also helps to prepare more material than you think you'll need, but beware of over-preparation. Do not write down and memorize everything word for word or you'll become even more worried trying to remember it all!.Many people freeze, stutter or panic when they're asked a question they don't know the answer to. If you don't know the answer, the best course of action to take is to admit it! Tell the host you can try to find out the answer later. Lying or attempting to make up an answer only serves to make you and the host uncomfortable.
And don't feel you have to answer every question within a split second. If you need some time to gather your thoughts, or recover from a "senior moment" it's okay and very natural-sounding to take a beat. You can also prepare a few crutch lines in advance to use during these times such as, "I really have to think about that one," "I never thought about that before," or "what a great question. I really need to think this through.
".Practice will also help alleviate nervousness. Obviously it's best to work on mock interviews with a media coach who will offer subjective, professional feedback. However, you can also give a list of questions to a friend, co-worker or family member and have them 'interview' you a number of times. Be sure to tape the interview each time so you can listen back to it.
Nervousness also comes from the mistaken belief that on the air, you must play the role of the polished, slick, know-it-all "guest" participating in an "interview." In reality, nothing can be more counterproductive or further from the truth. Be yourself and participate in a two-way, natural conversation between yourself and the host. Throwing out all of your preconceived notions about playing a role that doesn't resonate with who you really are can really help calm you down..Award-winning talk host Roberta Gale has spent 25years on the radio in major cities across the country and can currently be heard on KFYI/Phoenix.
Her programs have aired nationally on Westwood One Radio Networks and ABC Talk Radio Network. She is president of Roberta Gale Media Coaching, which provides media training and publicity expertise to authors, experts, spokespeople and businesses. For more information, http://www.robertagale.com.
By: Roberta Gale