“Sometimes I get nervous before I give a presentation.” I have heard this from dozens of workshop participants and people I’ve coached. Guess what? Sometimes I get nervous before I give a presentation, too. As a rule, most people get nervous before a presentation.
Occasionally, you’ll find a person who is programmed a little differently. Maybe that person does not feel the butterflies stirring up their stomach. Maybe she doesn’t hear any waver in her voice. Maybe that person does not feel the room suddenly feeling warm, or their collar growing tighter.
In her blog post last February Gail explored how you could Let Your Busy Mind Work For You During Your Next Presentation, this post will take a deeper dive into one of those strategies.
First things first: feeling a little nervous before a presentation is a natural bodily response.
Most people feel cold in a snowstorm. Most people feel tired if they didn’t sleep well the night before. You can do something about these. You can put on an extra layer or have another cup of coffee.
When it comes to feeling nervous about presenting, you can do something about that too.
One of the most potent, powerful, and effective ways to channel your nerves and focus your energy when you’re about to give a big presentation is to BREATHE.
It’s both easy and challenging.
When we start to feel the electricity snapping through our body because we’re up next to present, we often take fewer and shallower breaths. This makes things worse.
In order to channel your nerves and focus your energy, breathe more slowly and more deeply. How much slower? Try for eight seconds per breath cycle; four seconds in, four seconds out.
In the research, some cool stuff starts to happen when a person uses slow breathing, which is defined as less than ten breaths per minute. At eight seconds per breath cycle, you’ll be under that ten breaths per minute. In fact, at eight seconds per breath cycle you’ll be at 7.5 breaths per minute.
You count your breathing like this in the few minutes before you stand up to give your presentation.
I like the four-count because you can do it to a song. Breathe in for a measure and breathe out for a measure. Look up your favorite 60 beats per minute song and breathe along to the rhythm. My favorite is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens.
Breathe in… A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
Breathe Out…A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh
For more information on more ways to channel your nerves and level up your presentation skills ask your manager, HR, or the training and development department to invite Applause in to do a half-day, full-day, or two-day workshop to show you and your team how to present with calm, confidence, and credibility.