Handling fear & anxiety or how to relax when public speaking

It’s the night before that big sales presentation it’s already 11.40 pm and you can’t relax because fear and anxious thoughts are running through your mind. If the sales presentation goes well, you have a chance to raise the funds you need for your company, this is do or die. Time to sleep.

Now it’s 4 am but all you can hear is the tap dripping in the bathroom, the hotel bed is lumpy. You’re sweating ~ you can feel the tension in your shoulders the cramps in your stomach.

OH… no the lizard brain is at work!

The ‘lizard’ is a physical part of your brain, the prehistoric lump (Amygdala) near the brain stem that is responsible for fear, rage and reproductive drive.

The Amygdala (the part of the brain lovingly called ‘lizard brain’) – isn’t going away, its part of you. Your lizard brain is here to stay, and your job is to figure out how to calm it and manage what triggers it, its a little like a nervous wild cat.

The moments before you take the center stage for a presentation, interview, or performance are some of the hardest, emotionally wonky weird situations you’ll ever find yourself in.

Here’s a few ideas to quiet it and manage the Amygdala effect and so decrease your anxieties of public performance (interview, presentation or _ _ _ _ ) and chill out, mostly.

It is acknowledged almost everyone gets butterflies in their stomach before they become the center of attention, but whether you’re preparing a presentation at work, gearing up for a job interview, or public speaking or that all important business presentation, the secret to being successful starts well before you hit the (metaphorical) stage.

Managing Your Lizard

The worst part for most people about speaking in public is the five or ten minutes right before you have to actually talk to people. How you handle these minutes can help ensure you’ll be calm and relaxed when speaking. These also work for those fear inducing moments like an interview, negotiations and even asking for a raise.

Distract Yourself:

The best way to keep your mind from thinking about something is to keep it occupied. I recommend that you engage people around you where you are going to present, ask them questions, learn about them, involve your mind and so distract the lizard, before you hit the stage.

Create Your Ritual:

A little ritual is a great way to keep you distracted, but also to calm the lizard, it feels familiar and so bring comfort. Come up with something that works for you. Take a short walk around the building, or practice your breathing. Rituals and routines are used by sports players and performers, all the time to calm down the lizard brain effect. Often they have spent many years developing them and learning to use them breaking the pattern is taboo.

Embrace Yourself:

Everyone has nervous tendencies and quirks, in fact they are nothing to worry about, this is what makes you human. In fact, if you embrace them you can learn to manage them. Have a shaking knee? Focus your energy on making it shake. Being nervous is not a bad thing, its just means your human. It will give you energy and drive ~ harness it, have a laugh about it ~ after all if you were not nervous you would probably be dead.

Caffeine, Alcohol & Weed:

Common drinks that you should avoid pre-performance before presenting are caffeine, marijuana and alcohol. Caffeine can make you more nervous and anxious than you already are. For its part, alcohol is a great way to get relaxed, but it also slows your brain and makes it hard come up with quick-witted responses and relaxes your sense of boundaries causing you to say something you might later regret – in public. And as for the magic weed, it slows you down and although you think it’s funny, no one else does they may laugh at you instead of what you say. The lizard brain is acting up because of the fear of failure, the unholy trinity of caffeine, alcohol and weed will insure that you will!

Show Up:

This may seem like simple advice, but it’s still good to think about. If you’re struggling to remain confident, there’s a reason you were given this opportunity, it is because someone or many believe what you have to say is important, so use that to project your confidence. You have qualities that people like, valuable information to share and remember that if you get nervous.