If you’re facing the task of doing a presentation or a speech, there’s a good chance you might have some of these symptoms. Lack of sleep, sweaty hands, pounding heart, trembling hands and legs, the mind going blank – we’ve all been there. It’s normal. It’s or bodies’ natural response.
The idea is not to “beat” your nerves, not to “block out” your anxiety altogether, but to take the edge off it, and turn the negative into the positive.
So here are my 3 ways of coping with nerves:
- Breathing right. Of course you’re familiar with the fact that our minds and bodies are interlinked. Using various breathing techniques will help you feel more relaxed. Just make sure you practice it enough in advance, and not just on the day right before your presentation or talk! There are many breathing techniques out there, but for me personally, it’s the diaphragmatic breathing technique that does the trick.
- Stretching the body wide. Our posture can influence our thoughts and emotions. Slouch, and you’re likely to feel out of energy. That is to do with cortisol (the stress hormone) that activates when we are bunched up, when we slouch or when we are in any other low power pose. On the contrary, as we sit up straight or stretch our limbs out wide, testosterone (the dominance hormone) kicks in and makes us feel instantly more confident and relaxed. Stretch your limbs as far as they will go, make a V with your arms. Do that stretch first thing in the morning and just before going on stage or into the presentation room (just make sure you do this somewhere private, even a toilet cubicle will do!) – it will give you that confidence kick.
- One simple positive thinking I came across this tactics when reading a post about dealing with job interview stress. But in fact, the technique is much more powerful than just helping with job interviews, so it works for me in any stressful situation (including public speaking and presentations!)
Authored by Ian Rowland, the strategy is about making positive and declarative sentences about:
- The interviewer (in your case: your audience)
- The situation you are in.
So for example, you might want to say to yourself:
- I am a great speaker, and I am well prepared.
- The audience is very friendly and can’t wait to listen to my talk.
- It’s a beautiful day to do this talk!
This technique will keep your mind in a highly resourceful and positive state, without the need to overthink the situation or to “beat down” your anxiety.
These tips have helped me, and I am confident they will work for you.
What other challenges have you come across when doing a talk or a presentation?