Do you get nervous before an important presentation?
Don’t worry any further, in this article you’ll learn how to handle your next opportunity like a pro.
When it comes to giving a high-stakes presentation, one of the biggest hurdles that can cause a novice and seasoned professional alike to stumble is the often-uncontrollable sensation of anxiety that bubbles to the surface at the mere thought of potentially messing up and losing face.
The speaker begins to feel like they’re being wrapped up and suffocated by an invisible blanket made of angst-inducing fear associated with “looking incompetent” and “screwing up” in front of one’s peers… or even worse strangers.
This unseeable force can transform an otherwise highly confident and competent professional into a nervous middle schooler about to enter their new high school for the very first time– wrought with emotions of anxiety, dread, and self-doubt.
Many sufferers of this challenge commonly describe the associating physical discomfort as manifesting in sensations of muscle tension, headache, upset stomach, a racing heartbeat, and shallow breathing - providing the would-be speaker with nothing less than a proverbial axis of emotional evil comprising nausea, fear, and anxiety.
In fairness, these physiological responses are useful in small doses as they help us perform better (and stay alive) by heightening our senses, increasing our alertness, and strengthening our focus… but when giving a presentation… it can derail even the most well-crafted and well-designed masterpieces.
So what do you do?
As presentations are arguably one of the best tools you have to set yourself up for professional advancement, it’s prudent that you develop the ability to mitigate the effects of your anxiety and nervousness.
1. Go for a brisk walk before your presentation
According to Doctor John J. Ratey MD, author of the book “Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain” and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, performing some light aerobic exercise such as taking a brisk walk or climbing some stairs can help.
Not only will you feel a decrease in muscle tension, but by raising your heart rate you’ll increase the availability of anti-anxiety neurochemicals like Serotonin, and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America - you’ll release your bodies natural painkillers – endorphins which will serve as a mild tranquilizer of sorts.
2. Engage your bodies “relaxation response” through “box breathing”
Humans have a built-in survival response called “the fight or flight” response that kicks in naturally when we perceive a threat or feel under pressure.
Whether a real or perceived threat (like a presentation), through this response, our body turns its attention to survival causing our heart rate and breathing to pick up in order to quickly send blood to our muscles so we can “run to safety”.
This is useful in times of physical danger, not so much when giving a sales pitch!
Fortunately, nature has simultaneously provided us with a way to ramp down this response by engaging our aptly called “relaxation response” coined by Dr. Herbert Benson a professor of mind/body medicine at Harvard.
This can be achieved through a process called box or square breathing.
Here’s how to do it:
Close your eyes and simply inhale for 4 seconds
Hold for 4 seconds
Exhale for 4 seconds.
Do this at least 4 times.
3. Recite fundamental truth mantras over and over
For some people, simply reminding yourself of some simple truths will help you to overcome your nervousness. Before your next presentation, recite the following 3-sentence mantra:
The audience doesn’t know what I‘m going to say, so I can’t forget
The audience wants me to succeed because they’re investing their time.
This presentation is not about me, it’s about the audience.
So, the next time you find yourself about to.
Pitch for much-needed funding for your venture
Propose a career-boosting idea to the C-suite of your company
Conduct a potentially high-stakes sales presentation.
…mitigate your nervousness, and Exercise, Breath, and Recite your way to knocking the socks off your audience!
To learn more about this topic and develop your public speaking skills, visit the courses page on my website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is John Godoy, I am a Professional Speaker, Award-winning inventor, and Healthy lifestyle expert with over 20 years of experience in the personal development field. Through my videos and posts, I help professionals develop the communication and lifestyle habits required to excel in today's demanding world. Visit my website to learn more about my seminars and workshops.