Finding poise: do you shrink under pressure?

Under-effortingIn a previous article, I talked about a condition known as over-efforting, where we use far more energy than is required for a particular activity.

This is quite common in public speaking, as people think they need to perform and exaggerate their voice, gestures and body language to have greater impact on the audience. And in providing energy, the ‘adrenaline response’ can also encourage over-efforting.

Just the right amount of effort
But some people act in the opposite way, which could be described as under-efforting. This is typically where a person has a fear of speaking in public and doesn’t really want to do it, and so their response is to switch off. They unconsciously ‘shrink’ as they carry themselves into the public speaking event with feet dragging and shoulders low.

The funny thing is that under-efforting, or using less effort than is required to do the task well, ends up draining our energy as well.

Under-efforting could be described as a diffusion of the energy you have available into the wrong areas. I see my son do this when I ask him to clean up his room. All he has to do is pick up a few socks and hang up a shirt, but he lowers his shoulders, and often his head, and makes the whole thing harder than it needs to be. And it feels unpleasant to be in this mode.

Under-efforting can be an automatic response to the uncertainty associated with public speaking; feeling unsafe and exposed in the ‘spotlight’.

So, find and use just the right amount of energy for the task. Otherwise we exhaust ourselves, weaken our focus and stifle the natural energy that comes from a speaker when they have clarity and direction.

Do you want to hide?
Under-efforting happens when we attempt to hide, or flee; to escape something. Over-efforting occurs when a person’s response to a scary situation is to fight. So you can see the connection to the old ‘fight or flight’ response.

If you react in either of these ways, you’re disconnecting from conscious awareness to some degree, which is why we can’t think clearly or even read the notes we’re holding in our hand in one of these modes

Over-efforting is the crazed football player who says, ‘I’m 200% committed!’ Under-efforting is someone who says, ‘I can’t go on now, I’m too tired,’ or ‘I feel sick’ or ‘I’m not ready.’

Our bodies literally wear out if we habitually over or under effort. But both can be balanced with a clear understanding of what’s required, along with a relaxed, coordinated approach to a challenging situation.


If you’d like to master the Vivid method for public speaking, consider:

Speak Your Mind