Nerves are part and parcel of any job but when you are an entrepreneur and business leader, you are often put in situations that heighten your anxiety— especially ones that require you to take the centre stage. Feeling anxious before a big event is the most human thing in the world. No matter how prepared you are to face the audience or how many times you practised your speech or rehearsed your presentation, it’s easy to let fear and panic bubble up— it is simply your fight-or-flight response kicking in.
Here are a few methods that you can use to calm your nerves before a big event.
- Breathing Exercises
As odd as it sounds, your breathing pattern has a huge impact on your behavior. Studies have found that deep breathing and other breathing exercises can reduce stress and thereby improve your brain’s performance. While inhaling deeply might not always do the trick, a long exhale might. The involuntary function of exhaling is linked to the part of your nervous system that controls your ability to relax and calm down. So when you dispel all the air from your lungs and then take a deep breath in again, you’re increasing the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain— thereby slowing your heart rate and calming your nerves. So don’t forget to take some time out for a quick breathing exercise before you take the stage.
2. Listen to Music
A great way to get rid of your anxious thoughts before a big pitch is to listen to some music that you love. Studies have shown that music, especially tunes that you enjoy, can have a profound effect on your mental state and can instantly transform your mood and even help you concentrate better. It’s not surprising to find athletes such as Atlético Madrid’s striker Luis Suárez and Olympic winning American gymnast Simone Biles listening to their favourite beats before a performance, in fact, a recent survey found that nearly 57% of Americans listen to music to manage stressful situations. Just pop in your earphones hit the play button and watch as your mind clears and your confidence level rises.
3. Be Present
The best way to calm yourself and ace your speech is by grounding yourself in the present moment. The best way to do so is by rehearsing in the room so that you’re more comfortable with your surroundings. Another trick to quell your nerves is to find an anchor in the room. All you have to do is focus your vision on one person in each section of the room and imagine that you’re talking to just them. It is even more helpful if you pick a familiar face while doing so.
4. Trust Your Work
Sir James Galway once said, “Being unprepared heightens nerves,” and though he was talking about a musical performance, the saying rings true for any presentation. Knowing your subject matter and knowing more than most of the audience can help reduce your anxiety. Besides knowing all that you need to present, another helpful trick is to prepare a list of potential questions that the audience may ask. This will help you learn the answers in advance so that you can actively engage with the audience without feeling as though you have been put on the spot. Once you have all your material thoroughly prepared, you’ll be able to focus on the content that you’re narrating rather than yourself.
“If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential,” and no truer could those wise words by Warren Buffett be. Don’t let your nerves and fear of public speaking get the better of you. Instead, recognize it as a sign of excitement and push yourself outside your comfort zone, for this is yet another challenge to conquer on your journey to success.