Updated: Jun 22
Photo: A screenshot from a Youtube video - https://youtu.be/5upG0bw2b9s
Back in 2010, I sang background vocals with the amazing Nicole Scherzinger. She was the most amazing and technically challenging artist I had ever worked with in my career. But it was a challenge I relished. She knew exactly how she wanted me to sing the music with a specificity that set a high bar, in a way that really excited me and motivated me. We did some promo work together that's still up on YouTube to this day (that's me singing in the background in the pic at the top of this blog).
On my way to do a gig with Nicole, I wasn't feeling well at all and I was in a lot of pain so I decided to take prescribed painkillers. By the time I got to stage for soundcheck, my body had reacted badly to the painkillers and my body went into shock. I went from singing at my microphone to being laid flat on on my back because I was in so much pain. I literally couldn't move.
Cue a whole group of people standing over me, including Nicole herself, wondering if I was okay. All I remember was a feeling of dread. This was NOT supposed to be happening.
I had a 'be professional at all costs' policy and my body wasn't playing ball. Whatever pain I was feeling in my body was supposed to be hidden from everybody; especially the celebrity singer I was working with.
I didn't want to give anybody a reason to think I wasn't competent at my job and I had a fear that I was easily replaceable. My worry was based on something real, don't get me wrong. I had seen the high turnover of creative freelancers like myself in the music industry. Even though I had these underlying fears, my physical symptioms were so intense and that was all I could think about. I am forever thankful for the medical team that rushed to my aid to support me that day.
It's so interesting to notice how anxiety tried to 'help' me by imagining the worst to help me prepare me for it. I'm so glad to be able to see anxiety for the lie that it is.
I got the medical support I needed and I wasn't replaced. I went on to work with Nicole Scherzinger internationally.
If you are experiencing anxiety and it is keeping you up at night, occupying your days or affecting your wellbeing in any way, I would highly suggest that you do a brain dump and journal your thoughts or speak things into a speech to text app to help you get the thoughts out of your brain and onto the page.
Secondly, I would check to see if there is any tension in your body that is contributing towards your anxious mind. You might have a tight lower back, for example, and you may not realize how it is contributing to a feeling of tension in your mind. So prioritize your body, stretch and give your body what it needs—the water, nutrition and deep rest.
One thing that gives public speakers a lot of anxiety is trying to minimise uhms and ahs when you speak. The public speaking world will tell you that if you use these types of fillers, it means that you are nervous and lack confidence. However, I don't believe this to be necessarily the case.
I also believe that by fixating on NOT saying uhms and ahs, it actually keeps you saying them and creates anxiety; distracting and diverting your attention from actually being in the moment and enjoying your presentation or talk.
In the video below, I talk about how to sound professional without the need to eliminate your uhms and/or ahs. I discuss ways to stay in a space of confidence and joy when you speak, which lends itself to influence and charisma and helps you to have a voice that is promoted and paid. Check out the video below.