18 Oct Use the power of your mind to manage your nerves

Many of the best presenters use the power of positive thinking before they present. They imagine themselves as successful, confident, engaging speakers and are often delighted with the results.

Another aspect to positive thinking in your presentation is the way you choose to describe the ‘nervousness’. Have you ever stopped to think that it’s the exact same physiological experience whether you are nervous or excited? Did you realise that in fact, the only thing that determines whether it’s a negative or positive experience is the word you choose to use to describe it?

If you have ever been bungy jumping, abseiling, parachuting, rafting, climbing, caving, scuba diving, or parasailing, you know full well that people pay money to experience the feeling we get when we present!

And when they are doing those ‘adventure’ type sports they don’t call the feeling nervousness.

They call it:

  • excitement
  • energy
  • being pumped
  • exhilaration
  • thrill
  • joy
  • arousal
  • pleasure
  • stimulation
  • enthusiasm

In our family we call it ‘funny tummy’, and we even draw a smiley face on our stomachs to reframe how we feel in the moment! It’s so clever because it reframes in our minds that the experience most people call nervousness is, in fact, a positive thing. I’ve been known to draw smiley faces on the stomachs of the executives I work with too! It works — it makes them relax and smile. And by the way, there’s something quite seductive about knowing you have a smiley face drawn under your business shirt that no-one knows is there!

So the question to ask yourself is this: which word do you want to choose to use?

Because if you continue to call it nervousness, I’m not sure you’re really that serious about making presenting an enjoyable experience for yourself.

Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result! So it’s quite simple really: change the word and change the experience. Why not do it right now?