Given the choice of having a root canal or giving a speech, many opt for the former. Indeed, few tasks are more intimidating for many than giving a public speech or presentation.
One of the more popular suggestions for combatting nerves and feeling less intimidated is to visualize your audience naked. The idea is that if you could visualize your audience without their clothes they would appear more human, and therefore you would feel less vulnerable.
Well, while this may work for some, there are far more effective ways of dealing with the nerves that tend to hijack us before an important meeting, job interview or high-stakes presentation.
I like to take a multi-pronged approach, both mental and physical, to nix the nerves and project confidence, competence and charisma. You can call it Nadia’s Five Step Fix:
Step 1: Don’t fight it; feel it. In a high-stakes situation like this, a certain level of anxiety is entirely permissible. So, rather than fighting your nerves, embrace them. Doing so takes care of the unnecessary additional tension that fighting your nerves contributes to the situation.
Step 2: Practice, practice, practice. Nothing beats preparation. Accordingly, make sure that you plan preparation time and then practice until you are entirely comfortable with the material, so comfortable that you can recall your material even if you are slightly nervous. It is particularly important that you practice what you are going to say at the start of your presentation, meeting or conversation.
Step 3: Take the medicine of positive past memories. Developing a series of positive past memories is the most powerful antidote we have to nerves. Start by making an inventory of the highlights of the past few years of your life. Really think about your unique achievements and capabilities.
Step 4: BREATHE. Deep breathing neutralizes the adrenaline in the body. This simple physical approach is wonderfully calming and effective, which leads me to
Step 5: Contract and relax your muscles. The easiest way to do this is clench your fists tight, hold your breath and then release the air.
I assure you if you take the steps above and if you speak at a relaxed pace and pause regularly you will feel much more confident and project competence and charisma.