For over ten years, I've been an anchor on Bloomberg Television. I'm used to being in front of the camera. Breaking news and interviewing high profile guests live on air is part of the job - albeit still an exciting part of it!

What does intimidate me from time to time is speaking to a room full of blinking, live human beings. It's one thing to stare into a camera lens; it's quite another to feel the collective breath and energy of a room full of people and hope you don't fall flat. Going on TV is a piece of cake compared to telling a live audience your personal story.

One way I overcome this "stage fright" is to picture how the beginning of my talk will go. Once I've nailed that part, I know that the rest will flow. Usually when a presentation kicks off smoothly, the rest of the show is a piece of cake.

Some of our Radiate Expert CEOs talk about what they do when faced with stressful tasks. Here are their tips:

  1. Breath. It may sound simple but most of us forget to do it when faced with a daunting task. President and CEO of Wyndham Destination Network Gail Mandel recommends this: "I take some deep breaths, I really try to clear my mind and think about the task at hand. Not be focused on the extraneous, as to whether I just came out of sitting in traffic, or what's happening with my children that day, and really try to just maintain the focus."
  2. Gather your thoughts. Basketball legend Earvin 'Magic' Johnson calls it his "be still" moments. Take time out to center your headspace from the situation you are facing. For Magic, these moments "get me prepared and ready to go out and face the world, especially when you're in the people business. And I've been in the people business my whole life. And I need those 'be still' moments to just go and get ready for...whether I'm on a panel, whether I've got to go speak to college students, whether I've got to go into a board meeting, or even to just talk to my employees."
  3. Perspective. It helps to think about some of the stressful things that you (or people you know) have already gone through. Knowing that you and others have completed more difficult tasks than the one before you is invaluable. This perspective helps Kat Cole, the Group President of FOCUS Brands, conquer her fears. "Thinking about those who accomplish so much more than me with so much less than me."
  4. Meditation. When faced with a stressful task, head of public affairs at GLG, Richard Socarides, finds that practicing meditation "always works." Richard recommends you do this: "Just sit down and close your eyes for just a couple of minutes, and bring your breathing down, and try to center yourself around some pleasant thought or around no thought. I think it kind of clears your mind, it lowers your anxiety level and blood pressure, and it can be very helpful."
  5. Being in the moment. Staying grounded is what Brad Keywell, the co-founder and CEO of Uptake, recommends is the best way to deal with stress. "Life is about being present in the moment," he continued. "So my goal, especially if a task is hard, is to just be right there, right then with the task and off I go."

Do you have any tips that you practice before a hard or stressful task? Let me know in the comments below!

Published on: Nov 27, 2017