Get into a higher state for public speaking

Learn how to get into a higher state by expanding your inner awareness so you can be your best self for public speaking and presentations. Expanding your inner state frees you to be deeply relaxed, feel self-accepting and inclusive of others and to radiate a strong presence.  Experienced performers learn to enter a performance state. You can learn to enhance your performance and presentation skills by developing your ability to enter this same state.

Bill Murray, in an interview on The Howard Stern Show, said, “The more relaxed you are, the better you are. When you get on the stage…you go into like a professional state. Your state changes. You get higher.”

Garr Reynolds wrote a Presentation Zen blog post on Stern’s interview with Bill Murray. Quoting Garr, “Bill Murray says he learned how to be loose and relaxed through his early improv work at Second City and on National Lampoon Radio, performing in an off Broadway show, etc.…. All of us can learn from the experiences with improvisation, and with performances such as plays and music, etc. This idea of “state” is very important. Over time, with experience, you learn to put yourself into a different state when communicating before an audience.”

I have been teaching speakers, presenters and performers how to get into a higher state for performance and presentations since 1989. In fact, my Zimmer Method approach to speaking authentically is based on getting into a higher state before you try to speak. It does not take a lifetime of experience to learn to get into a higher performance state. Doing a few simple exercises can develop your ability to get into the state that Bill Murray and Garr Reynolds mention. Once you can access this state, you can prepare for your talks and presentations with a warm-up process just like an actor prepares to go onstage or an athlete prepares to get into the “zone” for the game.

What is this higher state mentioned by Bill Murray?

The higher state mentioned by Bill Murray and referenced by Garr Reynolds is the same state that athletes call getting into the zone or that spiritual seekers enter when they focus inwardly in meditation.  A higher state allows for greater flow of psycho-physical energy through the body and an expansion of awareness into more multi-dimensional quality of consciousness. That means you become aware of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of yourself all at the same time. The result of getting into this state is that you feel energized, experience more presence and have more access to your ideas, insights, expertise, talents and gifts. The secret to getting into a higher performance state is a combination of physical exercises to energize the body and inwardly focused mental attention to drop into present-time awareness. Together, they generate relaxation and open up flow of internal energies in your body.

Exercises for getting into a higher state.

I have developed a simple warm-up process that energizes the arms and legs first allowing you to feel a flow of energy in all four extremities. Then, I combine intense breathing with spinal movements to open a flow of energy in the cerebrospinal column.  Next, when the whole body is buzzing with energy, I use a grounding meditation to direct mental attention into all the parts of the body. Grounding in your body causes you to drop into a deeper (or higher) state of awareness which is the same state as athletes in the zone or as actors who are in their stage presence.

Below is a brief list of exercises that I use to develop a higher state for speaking and presenting. For a full description, please see my book It’s Your Time to Shine: How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking, Develop Authentic Presence and Speak from Your Heart.

  1. Stretch the spine and legs gently to start energy flowing.
  2. Loosen all the major joint areas from the top of the body down. Use random movements to help loosen your neck, then shoulders, elbows, wrists, spine, pelvis, knees and ankles.
  3. Shake each extremity, arms and legs, one at a time allowing the muscles to let go and feel like they turn to liquid. Feel the strong flow of energy after muscle shaking.
  4. Sit on the front edge of a chair. While arching and rounding the spine, breathe in and out rapidly to the count of 20. Then hold your breath and move abdominal muscles first, then loosen chest, then roll shoulders, then roll your neck. Exhale and feel the flow that is streaming through your body.
  5. End with the grounding meditation I have written about in many blog posts. You can also get a copy of an MP3 audio of my grounding exercise.