You’re a pro speaker — that means you never get nervous before a speech, right? Wrong!
“Pre-game” jitters are normal for pro speakers, pro athletes, and even pro performers. Regardless if it’s a speech or big competition, the excitement will naturally send a surge of adrenaline through your body.
This can feel like butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, you name it. This fight-or-flight state of mind and body is normal, but it can interfere with your ability to perform your best.
However, if you’re able to leverage some psychological strategies to calm your body and refocus that energy, then you can utilize that adrenaline rush to work for your presentation, rather than against it.
In today’s article, we’re going to share some valuable tips and tricks for how to get into the right mindset before a speech, so you can use it to your advantage and deliver an amazing experience for all.
RIGHT MINDSET TIP #1: CALM YOUR BODY
In the minutes and moments leading up to your speech, breathe deeply, slowly, and deliberately. Anxiety tightens the muscles in the chest and throat. Deep breathing can relax those muscles.
Long, slow inhalations and exhalations will also send more oxygen to the brain, interrupting your adrenaline-fueled “threatened state,” and instead trigger your body’s relaxation response.
Another great way to calm the body is to move it a little bit to move the extra energy through you. Do some stretching, some lunges or squats, or take a brisk walk outside or through the hallways. All of these actions will maximize oxygen flow to the lungs and brain and reduce tension.
RIGHT MINDSET TIP #2: GIVE YOURSELF A PEP TALK
There’s a reason coaches give their athletes pep talks before a big game — research has shown that this can have huge effects on your mindset.
You may not have a lineup of coaches, but you do have yourself. In the 10 - 15 minutes leading up to your presentation, focus on giving yourself the best pep talk of your life. Write or say to yourself declarations of your amazing performance, your confident delivery and your dynamism as a speaker.
Before you dismiss affirmations as “woo-woo,” there is hard research to back them up. Studies have shown self-affirmations can produce physical changes in brain regions associated with self-processing and confidence, resulting in positive changes in behavior. And if improving your self-confidence so you can relax and deliver an amazing speech is your goal, then some pre-speech affirmations may help you get in the right mindset.
This is also a good opportunity to stop imposter syndrome in its tracks. You can do so by acknowledging two big truths of the situation.
- The audience believes that you are the expert — they perceive you as an authority in your field.
- The audience wants you to do well — they want you to succeed and add value and they are rooting for you.
Remembering these truths will help to smash any rising imposter syndrome thoughts and reframe your perception of the audience. This way, instead of feeling like you’re battling against them and must “prove yourself,” you can easily sink into your authentic, natural charm and confidently provide the value that you are there to deliver.
RIGHT MINDSET TIP #3: CREATE A PRE-SPEECH RITUAL
When facing uncertain or high-pressure situations (say, a big speech), rituals can help get us into the right mindset by giving us a sense of control.
Rituals are not necessarily the same as a superstitious belief (e.g. the belief that wearing certain socks will lead to a certain outcome). That being said, studies about superstitious rituals have shown to be effective, much like the “placebo effect.” They don’t make you “luckier,” but they do add to your confidence.
Studies have also shown that rituals before almost any high-pressure situation are highly effective in reducing anxiety. And it has been well-known to sports psychologists that pre-performance rituals and routines improve focus and execution.
So why not create a pre-speech ritual to get into the right mindset before your big speech? It doesn’t need to take a lot of effort or be a big ceremony. It just needs to be accessible, repeatable, and something you enjoy.
No matter how skilled of a speaker you are or how experienced you might be, the pre-speech jitters can get us all. Next time, use the psychological strategies above and you’ll be able to leverage that energy to get into the right mindset and perform at your peak from beginning to end.
Looking for more ways to improve your presentation? Check out this blog post to get additional tips on how you can take any presentation from good to great!