Rebel Uprising Podcast

How to Get on Stage to Speak When Everything is Falling Apart

A terrible fight with your wife.

Your kid just got suspended for the eighteenth time from school.

And maybe your business… well, that's not so hot either.

Any one of those things is enough to throw us off our game. But what happens when you feel like the world is crashing down around you and you have to get on stage to speak?

One of my private clients emailed me recently to say that she was a mess. She'd been crying all day and was in no shape for the speaking gig she had that night.

What advice did I have for her?

Now, this is something that I, unfortunately, know a lot about.

When I was a professor I was up for a big prestigious job that I really, really wanted. Academic interviews are pretty intense. They are literally hell on earth. 12-hour days, tons of speeches, research presentations, and tough questions coming at you from all directions.

A week before this big prestigious interview, my life was thrown into turmoil.

My mom suddenly passed away. She was 54 years old and it devastated me. I still had to do this interview. I called them and told them because I needed to change my travel plans.

What ended up happening is I buried my mom and then went and did an interview.

I got on that plane with puffy red eyes and a nose that was raw from blowing it so much, and I was thinking how am I ever going to get through this. How am I going to do these speeches and these presentations?

Here are some of the things that I have learned.  If you find yourself in a place where your life is crap, but you have to speak anyway, this is how you should approach it.

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Don’t Cast Your Burden on Audience

It could be really tempting to get on stage and to tell them what's going on with you, but you don't need to re-live that moment, something that you're going through right now on stage with an audience who doesn't really know you.

Don't tell them about it. Don't tell them that you might be off your game because of all of these things that are happening. Just go and show up for them.

Lean into Your Speaking Expertise & Let It Carry You On Stage

The great thing about being an expert on your topic is that you can do this in your sleep. You know your stuff.

For me, when I was going through those presentations and all of those speeches, I did just let my expertise carry me. I wasn't worried that I didn't know the material well enough.

This material is my life, it's your life, and it can carry you through.

Get on Stage & Focus on the Present Moment as It Offers Sweet Relief

When you get on stage, you almost compartmentalize what is going on in your off-stage life into another world.

You get to just focus on the people who are right in front of you. You get to connect with them, you get to give your message, and in those moments it feels really good. It feels like normal life exists, and it does.

Focus on being present with those people who came to see you speak, and that will carry you through.

Show Yourself Compassion

I didn't get that big prestigious job and that's okay. I was off my game, I didn't do my 100% best, and there's no need to beat myself up over that. In fact, I think I've come out of it pretty well.

Don't beat yourself up about the speaking gig.

Don't think about how you could have done better or how you didn't give it your all. Show yourself some compassion because, in speaking, life happens to us.

Sometimes life super, super sucks and it is out of our control.

But when we're able to lean into our own expertise and trust our knowledge and focus on the audience, then that moment of relief that they are providing while we're speaking, it makes getting through a speaking engagement so much easier when everything seems to be falling apart.

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