Q: My boss has chosen me to make an important presentation to the executives in our company. I’m thrilled. But I don’t want to choke. Any advice on how to handle a case of nerves right before the big moment?
Reconnecting with our confidence at such stressful times may appear daunting. But if we prepare properly, know our topic well, and have a passion for our work, we may find it relaxing just by remaining open to our circumstances. While there are no “tricks,” here are three important tips to remember when speaking in front of an audience.
Relax: Take several deep, long, relaxed breaths before you begin. Too often, we unconsciously breathe shallowly when feeling anxious.
Slow Down: When we feel anxious, we tend to rush in hopes of relieving the distress. Such “speed” only “camouflages” the panic, often authoring the very clumsiness we are hoping to avoid. By slowing down with a few moments of mindfulness, we can reconnect with a psychological space that is quiet, simple, and open. Taking occasional sips of water during the presentation can go a long way to extending such “space” into your presence and the room.
Be Grateful: Consider that several people are about to give you their attention and gratefully appreciate such an offering. You may actually begin your presentation by thanking people for their attention which can create a gracious tone that may surprisingly ease the tension.
Making friends with our anxiousness while making an important presentation to decision makers may appear intimidating but if we are kind to ourselves—breathing, slowing down, and being grateful—we may discover a confidence that is as familiar as coming home.
Michael Carroll is the author of Fearless at Work.