My daughter went to dance camp this past week for winter break and brought home a craft she made - a small balloon filled with glitter, rice (still unsure why), and a watery substance that was mainly hair gel. This was a stress ball.
I love the idea! We should teach our children how to manage their stress and when to take breaks. Let's prevent burnout at a young age. Yes, and to that!
The stress ball, however, burst all over my brand-new sofa when I was out of the room— she was distracted and talking with a friend on her gizmo watch. The irony is that we had another stress ball explode a week prior all over my windowsill, and I shared with her in a loving and, I am sure, nagging motherly tone to please not play with it near the furniture and perhaps not squeeze it so hard or poke at it.
Regardless, yet another one burst the dust (bahahaha) and caused unnecessary stress for all of us. This mama's nervous system went into overdrive when hair gel and glitter became one with my new sofa."
So where is the metaphor in all of this?
Perhaps the stress ball bursting and causing a mess is a metaphor for how trying to manage stress in certain ways (e.g., by squeezing or pushing it down) can sometimes lead to a messy or chaotic outcome. Alternatively, the stress ball bursting could be a metaphor for the unpredictability and uncontrollability of stress itself, which can sometimes catch us off guard and cause unexpected challenges. Either way, the experience of the stress ball bursting reminds us that stress management requires a delicate balance of self-care and awareness, as well as a willingness to adapt and learn from our mistakes.
How does this relate to communication and public speaking?
Well, just like managing stress, effective communication and public speaking also require a delicate balance. On the one hand, we need to be prepared and polished in our delivery, knowing what we want to say and how to say it. On the other hand, we also need to be flexible and adaptable, able to respond to unexpected challenges or changes in the moment. If we try to control every aspect of our communication or public speaking, we risk coming across as rigid or inflexible. But if we don't prepare at all, we risk losing our audience or failing to get our message across.
The lesson of the stress ball, then, is that effective communication requires a balance between preparation and flexibility, just as effective stress management requires a balance between self-care and adaptability."
If you are looking for ways to where you can be more adaptable as a speaker, please find time on my calendar and let's talk.