I’ve tested various morning routines and am constantly switching my approach to find the best morning routine for emotional momentum. After several attempts, this 6 step morning routine has helped me the most. The reason this is so effective is because it is VERY easy to do.
Your brain is constantly looking to conserve energy. Morning routines that require 100 jumping jacks as you roll out of bed are hardly sustainable. A large energy expenditure like that is better suited when momentum has been built toward it. That’s where this morning routine comes in. It is intended to build momentum and set the emotional tone for the day allowing you to create emotional momentum to take on any task required of you.
1. Make Your Bed
I’m borrowing this tip from a University of Texas commencement speech delivered by U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven. You want to know what all Navy Seals do every morning? They make their bed. Making your bed each morning is a seemingly inconsequential task, but it holds enormous potential in the momentum it provides you.
It’s a small task but it will give you the momentum to do another small task and then another and then another. Before you know it, you’ll have completed massive accomplishments throughout the day. Each accomplishment will lay foundation for the next, and soon you’ll start to realize that integrity isn’t an idealistic character trait, but a definition of self.
2. Tell Yourself You Slept Well
Researchers at Colorado College studied the strange placebo effect of telling participants that they slept well. What happened when they told participants that they had above-average REM sleep? Voila! They performed better on cognitive tests. What about the reverse? They tested that too. Participants led to believe that they didn’t sleep well performed worse, even when they actually did sleep well! I’ve tried this for a year as well and can empirically state that this is true. When I told myself that I slept well with full belief, I was more alert in my work tasks for the day (even if I had only slept 3-6 hours).
3. Be Grateful
Find a moment to say thank you. Thank the universe. Thank every cell in your body. Thank nature. Thank your God or Gods. Thank whatever you believe in. You woke up today. Today, you are once again alive. You were given this amazing opportunity to experience Earth. This is your day. No challenge can be greater than the nearly insurmountable obstacles that took place for your genes to be here. Thank the complex functioning that your body is performing to stay alive beyond your level of conscious control. You are breathing. Your heart is beating. Be grateful.
4. Ask One Very Powerful Question
A powerful question lays the foundation for the rest of the day. If you started the day with “Today is going to suck”, guess what is going to happen? Your mind is directed by the questions that you ask of it. If you were to ask one powerful question to direct the day, what would it be? I like to use, “How can I make this day amazing?”. My mind starts racing to answer the question.
Maybe it’s eating a salad. Maybe it’s saying hello to a stranger. Maybe it’s writing, or reading, or snowboarding, or calling my parents, or any other possible answer. But I trust that my brain has the right answer. After this, I’ll repeat “Today is going to be amazing” over and over and over again. I will say it with full conviction until I feel it. I don’t care to know it logically; I need the visceral reaction of feeling it. At that point, nobody can take it away.
5. Love Yourself
Seriously. You need to start the day by filling yourself up. Too many people wake up with an emotional vacuum they try to fill with other people’s emotions. They seek attention because they haven’t given themselves attention. They become needy for connection and love because they haven’t given themselves connection and love. You need to find a way to fill yourself up with your own happiness and love so much that you become an abundant source of happiness for other people. Your happiness is no one’s responsibility other than your own.
I like to do this by partying in my room or creating a party in my head. Again, trust your subconscious on this one. Love yourself in whichever way feels right for you. Don’t worry if people give you weird looks or comments when you say that you love yourself. Those are the ones that are in pain. Love yourself enough that you don’t need their acceptance. Ask yourself, “If I wanted to love myself even more, how would I feel it right now?” If you make loving yourself a habit, you will not only change yourself; you will change the world.
6. Insert X
This is the blank slate where you decide what comes next. This is where you start building your day out. Is the next step writing? Is it reading? Is it a portuguese lesson? Is it pushups or the gym? Is it getting to work? Is it drinking two glasses of water (recommended)? You decide what you’d like to do next. It’s your life. If at any point in the day, your emotions start dropping down, repeat steps 3, 4 or 5 as needed. The more you practice them, the more you become them.
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
How did I do?
Are there any areas for improvement?
Did I sound or look stressed?
Did I stumble on my words? Why?
Was I saying “um” too often?
How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too: