Today, I sat through a day-long media training class for company spokespeople where they show you how to effectively answer a reporter’s questions. In business, the ability to think clearly and remain calm is always useful, but they’re even more important in front of a camera. In this class, a real reporter with more than 10 years of experience, grilled each trainee with questions and videotaped their replies. Public speaking is one of the hardest things to optimize, because too much energy can make you appear frenetic and disjointed, and too much calm makes you seem flat and dull. Here’s what I did to increase my energy while staying calm, and you can try it too.
I wanted to make sure I’d be on my feet for the class, since this is a new job, and I’m meeting new people. So, I had a high-fat, brain-enhancing breakfast with good coffee, and followed it with some L-glutamine and piracetam. L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (protein building block) in the body, and it’s particularly good for brain function and energy. It’s very safe to take – in fact it’s already in almost every meal you eat. But when you take it without other proteins, it boosts energy in a very healthy way and makes it easier to be on your toes for an interview.
Piracetam is a classic 40-year-old “smart drug” pharmaceutical that you can buy without a prescription. It increases oxygen in the brain, protects brain cells from oxidative damage, helps with focus, and can raise IQ. I’ve taken it for more than 10 years. The combination of caffeine, piracetam, and L-glutamine turns me – and most people who are already calm in front of reporters – into focused, sound-byte generating machines that never miss a beat; but, I’m already calm in front of reporters because I am trained, and I’ve spent hundreds of hours as a spokesperson. So, energy and memory enhancement are my primary concerns. Being Bulletproof® in high-stress situations (like interviews) is well worth the preparation.
Two of my fellow trainees didn’t feel calm around reporters. They showed classic signs of nervousness – not breathing, talking very fast, rambling, fidgeting, etc.. More energy isn’t what these people need. They needed to relax. There are various biofeedback methods to do this, including some I use regularly. However, there are other ways to turn down pre-presentation anxiety. A gentle method is to spend a couple minutes taking deep, slow breaths beforehand, but few people have the time and place to do this. I often recommended another amino acid, called GABA, to a few businesspeople who needed help, and it worked for people with a little stress.
For some people, this isn’t enough. One person I advise (a very high performance, insanely bright entrepreneur) had a problem with freezing while presenting. No matter how much coaching he did, no matter how well he knew his material, when he got on stage, some part of him clenched up and wouldn’t let go triggering his fight or flight response. After a year of struggling, I suggested he talk with is doctor about a beta-blocker that would prevent his body from responding to the flood of adrenaline it was releasing. Beta blockers have been proven to bring the performance of nervous performers up to that of their non-nervous peers. Many executives take beta blockers before presenting for this reason. After trying the beta blocker in a live presentation in front of a crowd, this entrepreneur said, “You just saved my career wit that advice! It’s amazing! I don’t freeze up anymore!” If you’re the stressful type, that’s how to be Bulletproof®.
If your doctor won’t prescribe a beta blocker, there are plenty of companies that will ship you some from Canada, or India – but be careful! These are real drugs, and the wrong dose could really hurt you.