Rambling rose, rambling rose
Why you ramble, no one knows”
Nat King Cole
When we’re nervous about speaking, we’re likely to do one of two things, freeze and not say anything, or let the pendulum swing the other way and ramble. We say more, repeat ourselves, repeat ourselves a little differently, or go off on tangents. It’s possible that we may not really have noticed what we said in the first place! We talk faster, barely catching a breath, and may talk at a higher pitch than usual. Does any of this sound familiar?
So, why do we ramble when we’re nervous about speaking?
Ultimately this is linked to fear, or nervousness around the speaking situation. Why do we do this? I’ve been mulling over this question, and I think that there are three reasons.
We’re busy in our head: The more nervous we get about a speaking situation, the more we move into our head. Our head is racing, gets busy, and the words tumble around our heads and out of our mouths!
We’re afraid of silence: Silence is so scary! So, if in doubt, fill it!
We distract ourselves: If we keep talking it can distract us from how nervous we’re feeling. It also shields us from feeling judged by the listener. I’ve written more about feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking, which you can read here.
Does it matter if we ramble when we’re nervous?
Well, yes, because, if we’re rambling:
- We’re not listening
- We’re not getting our key message out there.
- We’re not being truly present in the moment.
- We’re not connecting with our listener
What can you do about rambling when you’re nervous?
To me it comes back to two key things, being in our body and being in the moment…but actually, this could be narrowed down to one…being in our body. Because if we’re more aware of our body, we are in the here and now, and are present. When we’re more present, we can sit with our uncomfortable feelings…about silence, about what the listener thinks of us, and not go off into a spiral of panic, and we can be pleasantly surprised by our ability to cope!
So, how to do this? There are many ways. The simplest way that I find, is to simply stop, close my eyes, and scan down through my body, being curious and interested, noticing what I’m experiencing. Other people may find that taking a deep breath is really helpful. Whichever method you choose, the key result is a quietening of the incessant chatter, busyness and panic in your head, and in that quietness you get clarity….and it’s hard to ramble when it’s quiet.
So, instead of rambling out loud take a moment to ramble through your body, connect with it, and you’ll find that it all feels a lot easier!
What are your thoughts?
Do you ramble or do you freeze…or perhaps a bit of both?!
When does this happen to you?
If you’re interested in the song ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ here’s a version by Chuck Berry: