Aside: Suggestions On How To Cope With Anticipatory Anxiety?


Last night I found out that the event I will be speaking at in Chicago next week has sold out, with 300 reservations made.  I was also told that I will be the “headliner,” speaking at 7:45pm.  It’s shaping up to be quite the event.

My presentation in Milwaukee still has a few seats left, last I heard, so if you act quickly you may be able to get in on that.  That is going to be a terrific event as well: different than Chicago, more intimate and in-depth.  I have a couple media interviews scheduled too!

I must say though that I’m becoming a nervous wreck over the events!  I hope I can meet everyone’s expectations.  I’ve spoken to small meetings before, presenting at professional conferences related to my job (not shaving), but nothing on this scale.  I asked Brett McKay from Art of Manliness, who has some experience speaking, for advice and he said “over-prepare.”

Do you have any other suggestions?

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      • Dr. K says

        It’s not going to help you with anxiety in the days leading up to the presentation. You have an incredible knowledge base when it comes to shaving, and you can nail this. If the anxiety is mostly a performance anxiety related to speaking formally in front of hundreds of people, a beta blocker a half hour before your talk will keep your heart from racing and minimize the adrenergic reaction that can make it hard to get through your presentation. Professional musicians use these routinely for the same purpose. I have given a number of talks at national meetings, and I was never worried about the quality of my content. But speaking in front of a thousand people crowding a ballroom didn’t come naturally to me, and a low dose of propanolol helped calm the nerves immediately before and during my speeches. If you’re more worried about the content, your fountain of knowledge and usual excellent preparation should service you well. If it’s performance anxiety, try the beta blocker! Even just knowing that you have it in your pocket may calm the nerves, and you might decide to not take it at all. If you do try this, see your physician first, and take one as a trial at some point before the presentation to make sure you don’t have any untoward side effects (usually not an issue at the low doses used for this purpose).

  1. Tbone says

    I know how you feel, and used to get terrible stage fright even in front of small groups. The solution? Prepare really well for the presentation, and then just don’t give a darn whether or not you screw up. You won’t thanks to the preparation. At least that worked for me.

    A presentation that is good in front of a small audience should also be just fine in front of a large audience. It is simply more people, that’s all. Judging by your shaving videos, you have a great voice for public speaking, made even better by your easygoing, laid back presentation style. Look at some of the comments people make about your YouTube videos – some watch them because it puts them so at ease. You have the gift.

    You might also want to check out your local Toastmasters. There are lots of Toastmasters groups around, and so likely one near you. They might be able to give you some tips.

    Good luck!

  2. says

    I think a significant portion of this could be genetically determined. Introversion/extroversion are highly heritable traits.

    That said, the best way to overcome a little stage fright is to extinguish it with repeated exposure. That is, the Nike method: just do it.

  3. Badam says

    I would keep in mind that many of the people headed out to the event are fans of yours, not just traditional shaving. In a sense you will be preaching to the choir. People are going to see you because of your vast knowledge of shaving products and techniques. To keep the jitters down, try deep breathing in through the nose, it works for me. I hope some of your anxiety turns into excitement, the event sounds like it is going to be a blast!

  4. Sam H. says

    I’m working on conquering social-awkwardness, and for large groups, let me share some tips.

    First and foremost, relax. They chose you because they believe you’re capable. And you are. You’re the shaving authority of the internet. Millions of people learn wetshaving from your videos. You’re known by newcomers and veterans alike. So keep a calm demeanor. Take some deep breaths, and try and slow your mind to thinking only about the topic you’re speaking of.

    Another recommendation: if you happen to trip up, laugh. Seriously. One thing I’ve learned about speaking to a group is that a group typically likes humor. It makes you seem like you have that calmness, and the fact that you made your audience laugh will relax you as well. So if you happen to stutter or say the wrong word, just laugh about it; maybe even crack a little joke about the trip up. I remember one time when I suddenly got overwhelmed and began stuttering like mad. I quickly got a hold of myself, took a deep breath, and said “must be cold in here”. Audience laughed; worked like a charm.

    Good luck with your performance.

  5. Chris says

    I don’t have any advice to give, but I do wish you well! On a side note, will this be recorded or will highlights be uploaded afterwards? I’ll be interested in seeing what was discussed.

    • mantic59 says

      Yes, videos of both presentations are planned! In fact I may even do a couple “vlog” videos from my netbook’s webcam during the trip.

  6. Ole says

    I wish you all the best luck, Mark :)

    That being said, do you think the classic trick would work for you!? By classic, i obviously mean: ” Imagine the crowd naked ” :P

    As Chris asked, will this be recorded / uploaded!? I would be very curious to see it as well :)

  7. Rob says

    Practice in a setting as close to the actual event as possible. Even if it is just friends or family, do it for real with no joking around or casual talk. And if you can see the venue where you’ll be speaking the night before the event, and check to make everything works, you’ll have less to worry about.

    Not sure if it would help, but since it’s obviously easy for you, you could try recording yourself on video. Not only would it allow you to review your performance, but I bet you would focus better and feel a bit more stress.

  8. Razor_Burn says

    Nothing to worry about.

    If you fall down, lose your place, stutter, and freeze from fright we may notice, but we won’t think any less of you. We’ll applaud, remember the moment, be grateful for the event and look forward to the next time.

  9. Steve Condry says

    Pick out a person in the audience and pretend you are just talking to that person in a conversational manner. Then switch to another person and pretend again. Of course, don’t be obvious.

    Best wishes!

  10. says

    I second Tbone’s suggestion: in the longer run, being a part of a Toastmasters group will benefit your public speaking skills immensely.

    The event is just around the corner, so remember a simple thing that is very hard to keep in mind when you are “up there”: the stage is yours!

  11. Gary says

    Relax and prepare as you would for making one of your videos.

    Practice, rehearse with an audience, record yourself, edit what doesn’t work and practice some more.

    If possible, add some of you videos into the presentation…or…how about a blooper reel.

    This audience will be no doubt be with you, have some fun, enjoy it!

    Best of luck!

  12. Christian says

    As a musician I know, that playing often in front of a crowd can help reducing the stress, because the situation gets familiar.

    When you know, that you are capable to perform the music, you are can be more relaxed.
    I experienced, that I got nervous, when I started to play, but after a couple of minutes, I got relaxed and enjoyed, what I was doing.

    Another thing I noticed by myself:
    When listening to an oral presentation, spoken mistakes are forgotten within minutes (or perhaps even seconds), because they are not interesting at this time!

  13. says

    Breath. And close your eyes before, Ive done many speaking engagements and you can hype yourself up into a freeze. Breath. And rehearse as many times as you can. That way it flows.

    Hope you so well. I’m sure you will.
    Best regards.

  14. Paul says

    A small tip that works well for me in these situations is to mentally prepare myself to be “okay” with anything that might go wrong, or not as I ideally planned, or would like e.g. technology snafus, etc..
    This allows me to be in the right mind to handle anything that might throw me off.

  15. Ole says

    I know, that being ” LIVE ” is not the same, as uploading a video to Youtube, but look at it this way for a moment… You’ve already performed infront of many thousand’s of people on Youtube!!! :D

    Throw them a few ” Sharp ” lines, and you’ll set a good mood, that not only will relax you, but the whole room as well :)

    You can do it Mark.

  16. Philipp says

    Your knowledge is 100%, their knowledge is 0%. If you just have one thing to say, the whole event will be a success. Focus on one thing.

  17. Ian says

    What helps me is having other people on stage with me. If I’m part of a group, I don’t feel like the whole show is riding on my performance. Humor also can be helpful here. A few jokes or observations can help break the ice and let everyone (including you) relax and remember that it’s supposed to be a pleasant time. Hope this helps and good luck!

  18. Steve Wieczorkowski says

    I was at the STAG barbershop event. It was a blast and I learned quite a bit. And I’ve been wetshaving for a year now! If you were nervous it certainly didn’t show. You did excellent. And in a room full of hipsters to boot! May every other event be as successful for you.

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