How to CHILL OUT Before a Public Speaking Engagement (Speak Masterfully Tip #2)

It's week 2 of our cheeky blog series: 

"Don't Picture Them in Their Underwear: 5 Uncreepy Strategies to Calm Yourself Before Public Speaking" 

and it's time to talk about our pre-speaking warm up!

I'll be doing a video series demoing some of my favorite physical and vocal warm-ups down the line, but today we gotta talk about an essential and too often skipped step of the process...

Who's ready for a pre-speaking mini-meditation?!


I promise I’m not going to suggest a daily hour-long transcendental meditation practice.

(Although, if you’re into that, by all means go nuts!)

Look, I know that slowing down and focusing on your breath is probably the last thing you feel like doing when those pterodactyls are flapping around in your belly. (Some people talk about butterflies in the stomach, but I think pterodactyls are a more accurate description.) 

But at this point, the scientific benefits of meditation when it comes to anxiety and performance are pretty undeniable.

So let’s talk about a 5-minute meditation(ish) practice you can do before setting foot on stage to calm down your nervous system.

STEP 1: Find you feet

  • Place your feet in a parallel position hip-width apart.
  • Take a slight bend in your knees and roll through all the edges of your feet in a figure-8 pattern.
  • After 45 figure-8s, come back to center and focus on evenly distributing your weight through all four corners of your feet.
  • If you like imagery: imagine roots growing out of the bottoms of your feet connecting you to the earth.
  • If you hate imagery: recognise that the easiest way to ground yourself is to stand in alignment with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
  • This is the position to come back to whenever you start to feel off-balance during your presentation.

STEP 2: Focus on Your Breath  

  • Without trying to change anything, notice the rhythm of your breathing.
  • Feel what parts of your body expand and contract with each breath.
  • Slowly count to ten inhaling on 1, exhaling on 2, etc.

STEP 3: Assess/Release Tension 

  • Do a slow mental scan of your body from head to feet, noticing where you’re holding tension.
  • As you encounter an area of your body where you’re experiencing muscle tension, see if you can release it by taking a deep inhale/exhale. Imagine sending the breath to that part of the body.

Public speaking is both a physical and mental game.

Taking 5 minutes to connect to your body and breath before you take the stage will allow you more vocal freedom on a purely technical level, and a greater sense of calm on an emotional level.  

Take 5 to calm that monkey mind so you can take the stage loud and proud!

That’s it for today! Tune in next week to find out how to “game-ify” your talk.

Full disclosure: this  is probably my favorite tip of all, so brace yourself for some enthusiasm.

Till then!



FIRST TIMER TIP: Never meditated before? Try out an app like Headspace, which offers guided meditations ranging in length from 3–20 minutes.

Photograph of Sara Glancy on stairs
Headshot by Jessica Osber.

Sara Glancy is an NYC-based actor and public speaking coach and the founder of Speak Masterfully, a service that helps professionals take the stage with less fear and more fun! 

Want to nail your next presentation?!  

Apply this basic outline to any speaking engagement to feel twice as prepared in half the time

Download your free copy of "Mesmerize, Don't Memorize" here!

50% Complete

Get your FREE
copy of Mesmerize, Don't Memorize

Apply this basic outline to any speaking engagement to feel twice as prepared in half the time

(without hours of pointless memorization!)