While I may be dating myself a bit, do you remember the episode of The Brady Bunch where Marcia was trying to pass her driver’s test and Jan was participating in a debate and afraid to stand up in front of people? Their father, Mike, gave Jan the following advice: “When you stand up in front of people, imagine them in their underwear.”
Here is why this is woefully bad advice:
A few years ago, I was singing at an open mic night at my church. A young girl of about 8-years-old got up and sang a song. She was visibly nervous, but did a good job and made it through. After she sat down, a woman sitting in front of her turned around and told her, “the next time you get up there, you should imagine the audience in their underwear.” The young girl laughed. And then she got up to sing again. And she remembered the advice. And forgot the words to the song.
Eventually, this poor 8-year-old started crying because she couldn’t get this horrible advice out of her head and her song that she had worked so hard to prepare, was ruined.
She sat down feeling ashamed and had to be comforted by her parents.
When you take Mike Brady’s advice, you are focused on something that is not true in the moment you are presenting your speech or presentation. Your audience is not in their underwear, but your brain is focused on making them so and is not focused on seeing them exactly as they are and TALKING to them!
Remember, a speech or a presentation, whether there are 100 people in the room or 100,000, is just a conversation. It is an opportunity to talk to people.
You’ve talked to people before, right? Do you visualize them in your underwear when you do?
Romantic relationships notwithstanding, probably not…