Dry throat. Moist palms. When the nerves bite.

There are two times in my life that really stand out as me being nervous.

The first was back in the 1980s when I took my driving test. My instructor had booked a lesson for an hour before the test so I could get some last minute practice in. Predictably enough, my mind simply was not on what I was doing as I was worried about the test. As a result, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The final words my instructor said to me before I went into the testing centre were:

“You’ve made all your mistakes for today. Just concentrate, but relax and you’ll be fine.”

An hour later, I walked back out of the test centre with a pass certificate in my hand.

The reason for my nerves? Instead of being allowed to sneak off quietly and take the test, one of my ‘friends’ at the time had blabbed and told everyone where I was going in advance. If I failed, everyone would know. Oh, and for my USA based readers, in the UK, 99% of cars are ‘stick shift’.

The second time was when I first started delivering news bulletins on the radio. These were done live and had to start and end at very precise times. Add to that, my studio was remote to the radio station taking the bulletin. I could hear the clean feed of the radio station output down the line, in my headphones. As the clock ticked away, my throat started to get drier and drier. Not a good sounding voice for the radio. The voice of the presenter introduced me and I pressed the ‘live’ button to activate my microphone. Three words into the bulletin, I was away, jabbering on like an old pro. Due to my nerves, the bulletin went a little long, but my boss, who was standing right behind me didn’t seem to notice. I gave the outtro and switched my microphone off. It was done. The first of thousands of bulletins I would deliver over the years.

A few nerves are good to keep you sharp. It shows you care. But at the end of the day, being overwhelmingly nervous does little to help you deliver. Relax. Enjoy your work.

Relax. Enjoy your work and save giving yourself ulcers.

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