dealing with presentation nerves

Dealing with Presentation Nerves

Lots of people suffer some presentation nerves. Some suffer terribly. There are dozens of strategies for dealing with the stress of presenting, speaking in public or doing a media interview. Here are mine.

Dealing with Presentation Nerves

Simple steps

  • Rehearse aloud
  • Research your audience as much as possible
  • If it is a media interview, read what the journalist has written or listen/watch the show you are appearing on
  • Arrive early
  • If you are presenting, check the room and the tech

These above are the basic tips for a professional approach to either a presentation or a television or radio interview. However, for some people this will not be enough, so here are some more ‘off-the-wall’ ideas.

Master your mind

  • I am a long-term user of self-hypnosis and guided meditations. They work for me. You can literally borrow a hypnosis recording from a library. You probably need to listen two or three times in the days before the stressful event. Here is a taster from YouTube.

  • If you don’t fancy an off the peg solution, you can do this for yourself.  Just get into a relaxed state (first thing in the morning as you wake up is good) and imagine the interview or presentation going really well. Imagine enjoying it and imagine other people afterwards telling you how good you were. This is usually remarkably effective for reducing my nerves. If like me you have done a lot of meditation, it’s relatively easy to get into the zone. Others may find it more difficult. What is the zone? Well if you want to get technical you need theta brain waves, this  should feel like relaxed day dreaming. The idea is that you are programming your unconscious mind to deliver the result you want: a great presentation.
    dealing with presentation nerves
  • Just before the event. You could try the Power Pose. This technique is supposed to have been debunked, but I suspect it depends on the individual. Anyway, you could try it. Go stand in the loo, or somewhere private and adopt the Power Pose (illustrated in this photo by Wonder Woman and Amy Cuddy) for at least a minute. Cuddy gave a Ted Talk on this idea in 2012. The theory is, that while we all accept the mind can influence the body, the opposite is also true. If you stand confidently, you will feel confident.
  • Deep breathing is not recommended. Holding your breath is. Apparently, you don’t want to increase the oxygen in your system if you are stressed, you want to decrease it. There is loads on the internet and written about this. If you want to deep dive read Breath by James Nestor.  If you want to give it a go, try this instructional video.
  • Another physical exercise comes from the work of neuroscientist
    Dr Andrew Huberman. He has two tricks for reducing stress that I use daily. One is look at the horizon. That’s it! just take a few seconds to focus on the horizon. Monitor your body: if it works for you, there will be a palpable physical change.
  • The other is to focus on a fixed point but turn your attention to your peripheral vision. What can you see at the periphery of your vision without moving your gaze. If you alternate between these two mindfulness exercises for just for a couple of minutes, my experience is you can feel your stress melt away. Dr Huberman has a large internet presence to explore but here is a starter video.

Finally, It may also help to understand stress is normal ahead of public speaking. Many people who appear in public regularly continue to suffer from nerves, but they do it anyway. Pay attention to it and you will see it is working to ensure you take the event seriously and do the preparation. Rehearsing aloud is essential.

Images: IStock, Flickr, Unsplash

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