Last week, we explored how professionals are utilizing beta blockers to deal with their fear of public speaking. Beta-blockers slow down the body’s response to stress, thus helping people move forward without sweating and having shallow breaths.
While some people find relief from performance anxiety through medication, others prefer to address the issue without drugs.
Dr. Nick Morgan, a communications coach who has worked with Fortune 50 executives and TED speakers, offers his advice on what people can do to make sure their nerves don’t get the best of them during their next big presentation.
- Redefine your negative symptoms as positive.
Many people were susceptible to stage fright experience anxiety as a result of their body’s natural fight or flight response.
Instead of thinking of a quickened heartbeat, flushed cheeks, and aroused awareness as forebodings of misfortune though, Dr. Morgan trains his students to see them as positive signs that will lead to a great experience. When he taught at Princeton University, he was fond of telling his pupils that our body responds in the same way before sex as it does before a grand performance.
“When you think the arousal is going to lead to a pleasant circumstance, the arousal isn’t so bad,” he said.
- Give yourself a pep talk.
High-pressure situations often cause people to think of all the potential negative outcomes, but according to Dr. Morgan, this doesn’t have to be the case. With practice, people can train themselves to reframe every negative thought into a more positive one.
For example, when you’re getting ready to give a presentation and start worrying that your voice will shake, remind yourself of all the time and effort you put into preparing.
- Visualize your success.
Just as Olympic athletes wouldn’t walk into their competition without preparing and visualizing themselves winning, you shouldn’t go into a presentation without doing the same.
Distract your body from feeling nervous by creating “mini-movies” in your head, Dr. Morgan advises.
“By creating those little positive scenarios and then playing them over and over again in your head, you replace your nervousness with a positive activity,” he says.
- Practice filling up your belly balloon.
As any yoga enthusiast knows, breathing is one of the most important keys to staying calm. Dr. Morgan recommends diaphragmatic breathing—also known as belly breathing—through which people breathe deeply by contracting their diaphragms. Diaphragmatic Breathing supports the expansion of your lower ribs and abdomen, not your chest so that you can take full breaths more easily and efficiently.
Dr. Morgan explains that deep belly breathing can lead to better performance by triggering the body’s autonomic relaxation response. However, it’s crucial to practice this before your big moment because it will be ineffective if you’re already feeling anxious.
- Stay positive.
According to Dr. Morgan, if you want to give an empowered speech or presentation, take a page out of the method actor’s playbook by focusing intensely on a positive emotion beforehand.
To calm your nerves, remember how excited you are to present your information in front of an interested audience. Alternatively, focus on how much passion you have for the subject matter of your presentation.
As a last resort, you can consult with a doctor about whether anxiety medication would be beneficial.
The original publication of this article was on Business Insider.
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