How to Deal with a Rapid Heartbeat Before a Speech
One of the reasons I hated public speaking growing up was because of the rapid heartbeat.
The day before the speech, I imagined the best.
Took a break.
Then practiced again.
Yes, this speech was going to be awesome!!
Then the day of the speech, I started to feel a rapid heartbeat.
The heartbeat only intensified as the speech time got closer and closer…
The second that I was about to get introduced by the host, that’s when the rapid heartbeat was at an all-time high!
Trying to speak when the body is trembling leads to a quivering voice.
A quivering voice hurts the speaker’s confidence and makes the audience lose faith in the speaker’s message.
Does everything that I’m sharing sound familiar?
It’s because this blog is from real-world experience.
I went through the rapid heartbeat.
I still go through it.
And here is my unorthodox workaround for it.
Accept the Rapid Heartbeat
In the beginning stages, I kept looking for different ways to eliminate the rapid heartbeat.
When I set elimination as the intent, the worse off it got.
It’s like me telling you not to think of a zebra right now.
What do you think of?
Exactly. Emotions work like that too.
‘So, what did you do?’
I talked to a few of the veteran speakers in my Toastmasters club and asked them how they got rid of the rapid heartbeat.
One of the veteran members chuckled and asked:
‘What makes you think my rapid heartbeat stopped?’
I didn’t know how to answer that. I just made the assumption that a veteran didn’t have to deal with the problem.
But my assumption was incorrect.
The veteran speaker told me that the rapid heartbeat never goes away.
Instead, the perception regarding it changes.
When I heard that, my mindset flipped.
Elimination was never the goal.
How to Accept the Rapid Heartbeat
One time, I was in Boston.
My buddy hits me up and asks:
‘Yo Armani, I’m throwing a graduation event for my youth speaker’s club. Would you mind being the keynote speaker?’
I asked how many people were going to be in the audience.
He said around 10ish people.
When I heard that, I got cocky!
‘An audience of kids with a few parents? I can do that speech in my sleep!’
I didn’t take the speech too seriously.
No rapid heartbeat in sight.
The day of the event, I gave my talk.
Afterwards, I was greeted with congratulations by the kids and their parents.
However, my friend didn’t congratulate me.
He is one of my ‘tell it like it is’ friends.
Doesn’t sugarcoat anything.
He told me that I lacked energy.
‘But this was the speech where I didn’t have the rapid heartbeat. What does he mean I lacked energy??’
That’s when it clicked.
I had a revelation.
The heartbeat was a friend, never the enemy.
It was Mother Nature’s Red Bull trying to give me courage.
It was Mother Nature’s Red Bull saying:
‘Hey, don’t rest on your laurels. Use this energy I’m giving you and bring the words to life!’
When I realized that, I started to have a favorable perception of the rapid heartbeat.
Exercise to Change Perception of the Rapid Heartbeat
Have you ever had that moment when you are doing cardio at the gym…
You’re running out of breath.
Then suddenly, you get a call.
You pick up the call.
And somehow your voice sounds smooth and elegant.
No quivering in sight.
‘I’ve had that happen many times. Why wasn’t my voice shaking?’
It’s because you expected the rapid heartbeat.
When you expect something, you make adjustments much quicker.
When you don’t expect something, you become rattled much more easily.
One suggestion for gently inviting the rapid heartbeat is to:
Do a few pullups or pushups to exhaustion, then immediately give a short talk.
‘Shouldn’t I take a break after the physical activity before giving a talk?’
Nope! Give the talk right after you do your physical activity.
This will allow you to learn the art of breathing.
‘Art of breathing? Anyone can breathe.’
Anyone can breathe.
But few can breathe correctly.
A silent breath is a happy breath.
Here is my blog on ninja breathing.
Breathe through the rapid heartbeat.
Go for relaxation.
Rather than thinking:
‘I must control my breath!’
‘Allow me to relax.’
In the communication’s world, joy beats force.
This is a concept I break down in my book, Speak Easy, which you can grab here:
Not only does this exercise help you improve your perception of the rapid heartbeat.
This exercise allows you to exercise!
Call that killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
Accepting the Rapid Heartbeat & Dealing with Pressure
Public speaking is a game of learning and refining.
It’s one of the highest-pressure activities to learn.
There is risk, strategy, and self-improvement happening all at once.
In modern society, so many rules are being created to take away risks.
But when you try to take away risks, that’s when you take away someone’s ceiling of happiness.
Happiness is built from facing strategic risks head-on and coming out on top.
The rapid heartbeat is an indicator that you are doing something that requires risk.
You aren’t resting on your laurels and taking life on autopilot.
Therefore, embrace the rapid heartbeat.
Put your arm around it.
Take it on a date.
Make love to it…
You get the point!!
And watch your voice stay steady no matter how much the pressure rises.
For more practical advice on public speaking, be sure to check out my book:
This book will teach you how to:
- Turn speech anxiety into speech excitement.
- Create speeches fast.
- 5x Rule.
- Present your speech for maximum engagement.
Any many more other cool topics.
Ready to level up your public speaking game?