Results of the first year of a long term research
Django almost strikes
When Django hears his secretly beloved Broomhilda is being kept in the hot box on a hot day, he takes off his sunglasses, cocks his revolver in its holder to prepare…
And that’s it. Other than the close-up camera shots, showing these sophisticated momentums, nothing else gives away his inner concern. For the other characters in the scene, his tension remains unrevealed. Still, you can bet – there are high stakes and he’s got high pulse.
Peek under the hood
When I ask my public speaking trainees to go on stage and give their speech in front of the group, they look like Django on the outside. It is impossible to spot if they are calm or desperately looking up their library of excuses to find something that would get them out of the situation. They just walk up the stage relentlessly and do the job.
I’ve always assumed that there were intense arguments going on in their head before and during their speech: Should I do it? Shouldn’t I bail? Am I doing it fine? Do they like my speech?
Finally, the research I have been conducting during the last year helped me to take a peek under the hood.
State of the research
The initial aim of this research was to see if there is an effect on the confidence level of people who participate in my seven-week public speaking training.
There is still a long way to go, but the gathered data on the 21 participants is already enough to find three interesting aspects. These aspects show the significance of the work that has already been done.
My plan is to publish these initial findings here, on LeadByCharacter.com during these last few weeks of the year 2017.
First finding – Pulse during speech
At every session, participants had to give speeches. I measured their pulse rate three times per session. Once at the beginning, when they arrived and calmed down. (Calm Pulse Rate) Then just before giving their speech (Before Speech Pulse Rate – BSPR) and then right after they have given their speech (After Speech Pulse Rate – ASPR)
Not surprisingly, at the first session, they started with the mean of 82 bpm (beat per minute). Also not an astonishing fact that, just before the speech, their heart rate went up close to 105 bpm, without any visible signs.(Django, would have definitely cocked his gun at this point. :))
Right after the speech, when we measured their pulse rate, it was a bit lower, a bit over 100 bpm. Almost the same was the result throughout all the seven sessions.
So by the end of the speech, their anxiousness remained the same or decreased compared to the start.
And the plot thickens…
After the 7th session, there was a plus one event. At this event, the participants gave their speeches in front of 30-50 people. People who didn’t participate in the course. People who were expecting to see the miraculous change of those going through the 7-week training.
The result of the measurement was astonishing. Instead of showing the same unchanged anxiety during the speeches a huge increase was shown.
If the bar’s too high it feels you talk with an open fly
As soon as speakers felt that there was something at stake, such as reputation, opinions of friends or possible future employers, something changed.
They stepped on stage and there they felt that a huge number of judging eyes started their measurements on them. While delivering their speech, they felt the increasing pressure of living up to the expectations.
It didn’t matter that they had done it 7 times before. It didn’t matter that they were in possession of all the necessary tools to make magic out there. The mere concern of assumably being judged instead of being supported was enough to increase their anxiety throughout the whole speech.
Thanks to this research, it became clear that no matter how practiced a person is, once they feel, that the stakes are high, they will feel like they were talking with an open fly: highly vulnerable.
Are the stakes actually high?
You only feel the pressure of high stakes, because in your mind you translate the situation into something which would result in a huge impact on your life. Yes, it might affect your life, but the question is: do you believe you will be able to solve the trouble if there is a failure? If you say something stupid and lose your job, don’t you think you can get another one?
My assumption is that the only way to turn this around is to build a strong foundation of self-esteem for yourself as a speaker. This way you will feel that no matter what happens after your speech, you will still triumph the situation.
You will feel that you are Django with the revolver in the holder, that is ready for when the time comes.
High self-esteem is the key to achieving high stakes with low pulse.
I am to prove this assumption through the findings later down the road.
More about the initial findings in my next blogpost.
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