The Public Speaker’s High
Recently, I had the pleasure to be on a team of mentors, working with a young woman who recently started a business.
When it came time for her to pitch her product/business plan, she was a nervous wreck. She was so nervous, in fact, that she was thinking about dropping out of the program.
We worked together for a while and she decided to stay in the program, although she was still somewhat nervous about her upcoming pitch.
The day before she was to pitch, I told her that, when it was over, she would feel one of three ways. She would be glad it was over and feel that she could have done better. She would be glad it was over and feel that she did well. She would be glad it was over and want to do it again.
My bet was she would want to do it again. “No way,” she said, “I never want to go through this again.”
The eventful moment finally arrived. She got up. She started. She nailed it. When she sat down, I asked her how she felt. She responded with a mixture of excitement and astonishment, “I can’t believe it. I can’t wait to do it again!”
How did I know she was going to feel this way? It was easy; it’s based in science. Much like runners who thrive on the runner’s high, public speakers often experience a similar state of euphoria.
As adrenaline courses through our system and we experience a state of stress, our body produces endocannabinoids. These chemicals are much like THC, the buzz-producing chemical in marijuana. They are released into the bloodstream and enter our brain where they produce a high or buzz. We may or may not be aware of the feeling, but our brain sure is. And it wants to experience that feeling again … and again … and again.
This is why, as many of us know so well, speaking to audiences, for all the havoc it may wreak on our nerves, can be very addicting.