Nervousness: An Impulse to Action

I interviewed Daena on how she looks at nervousness. Daena Giardella is an actor, director, coach and consultant. She has been called one of the “trailblazers” of training and one-woman improvisational theater performances.

What do you tell clients who say, “I am so nervous. I can’t do this talk”?

Your nervousness can be your best friend. Nervousness is energy that may contain a message from your innermost self. Your job is to understand what it’s trying to tell you. And then you can harness and transform it into passion and smart choices.

Your nervousness can also signal that you’re a bit fearful about taking a risk or going to the next level in your development or it could mean that you’re excited about the opportunity. Sometimes our excitement about doing something is masked by nervousness – it might feel more familiar to be worried than thrilled.

What’s one major component of preparing to be in front of an audience?

Practicing breath awareness and centering or relaxation exercises. Envision yourself feeling confident, open, empowered and creative as you connect with the audience.

What do you do to prepare?

I get there ahead of time and sit in the space so I can sense the energy of the room and feel at home. I like to set up early and move around the room to get an experience of the environment that I will be using for my presentation. I also sit in the audience to get a sense of their perspective.

What do you ask your clients about their nervousness?

I ask them to consider that we live in a world where nervousness is almost the baseline. What if they change their baseline to relaxation?

Being an actress, how can someone use improvisational skills to handle their nervousness?

Express your nervousness, give voice to it, speak it aloud as a monologue or write a letter to yourself. Turn it into a humorous character. Let yourself shake, move, jump up and down and release that energy. If you keep it inside, the nervousness will go in circles and get trapped into unwanted gestures, verbal tics, vocal patterns, physical awkwardness or stiffness.

Give yourself permission to experience the joy of your creative energy, that’s when you feel freedom and gusto. And that’s when you will surely capture your audience.

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