Nervousness can be used to our advantage or our detriment. It’s a human condition that everyone experiences at some moment in their life. I used to think that being nervous meant I wasn’t good enough at something.
It’s also a condition that can be forgotten about in highly successful individuals or celebrities. As I researched and consumed interviews from these two types of people, I realised that more than 80% of them still get nervous.
What I realised was that they had found ways to be appreciative of their nervousness and to reframe the sensation into a positive experience.
Below are the ten ways to deal with nervousness before any presentation, speech, performance, or business pitch:
1. Be happy you’re out of your comfort zone
Being nervous usually means you’re out of your comfort zone. This is an awesome place to operate your life from, and it will see you excel past your peers. The more you get into this state, the bigger the achievements are that you can obtain in your field of excellence.
From now on, reframe your states of nervousness to be linked to feelings of happiness. Hardwire the feelings of nervousness to your basic human need to grow, and then link all of this to your vision / purpose. By doing this, you will become unstoppable!
2. Remember it’s extra energy so use it for good
Nervousness in my mind is extra energy that can be utilized for good or for evil. It can make you more aware and help boost your senses.
I remember hearing Jessie J say that everyone she knows get’s nervous (including her) and that she has learned over the years to use the energy to help her performance. This is the secret sauce of many pop stars and Hollywood actors.
For some reason, I used to think that these top performers didn’t get nervous because they just magically grew out of it and it went away. This is not true. Some don’t get nervous, but the majority still do.
3. Concentrate on delivering value (not on yourself)
A recurring theme in almost every article I write is the simple power of giving. The reason it’s easy for us to get nervous before a big performance or speech is that we are focusing on ourselves. We are focusing on what the effects are going to be on us and what people might think.
Fundamentally, when we shift away from this default way of operating and make our priority those we serve, our nervousness changes shape.
In blogging, early on, I used to by default focus on how I sounded and what people thought of me. This was a natural human reaction that I did subconsciously even though I knew better. The shift for me happened when I consciously forgot about myself and committed to delivering everything I have with no stone left unturned.
Regardless of how I am perceived, good or bad, my goal is to go above and beyond people’s expectations and to serve an audience. As I took this habit from my blogging to public speaking, I found that a good proportion of my nervousness disappeared.
Instead, my new focus was on trying to teach one new thing, or inspire one person through a new idea, every time I spoke in front of an audience. I still have a long way to go, but public speaking is definitely high on the nervousness radar for many.
When I made the bold move to put my name up in lights in front of tens of thousands of my work colleagues and share my entrepreneur story, I opened the door for unwanted opinions and judgment.
It made me nervous about what could happen. Rather than dwell on all the fearful thoughts I was having, I just had faith in what I stood for and who I’ve become and shared everything I had learned. It’s no surprise that there were 1% of naysayers (expected), and the other 99% were highly supportive.
Dig deep and use your experience to draw out nuggets of gold for those who have given up their time to listen to you. What might seem like a meaningless life lesson to you, could be the one strategy that someone else needs to go on and be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
None of your life experience is meaningless, and you should be relentless in sharing it for the benefit of others. Social media makes this so easy to do so you have no excuse not to follow through.
4. Get in the pocket first
Nervousness can often begin at the start of a situation and then once you’re into the flow of delivering your performance – whatever that might be – it goes away. Expect that the first few minutes of a nervous experience might be uncomfortable, and then remember, once you get into delivering your content and you’re in the pocket, the nervousness will subside.
The audience can be a great way to get into the pocket. Use their energy to focus deep on your underlying passion that is driving you to do something that brings on this nervousness.
As you get further through the nervous experience, you will find yourself naturally fall into the pocket. It’s at that moment that your final goal should be to focus on how you can educate or help your audience.
5. Try this mindfulness trick
In a recent sales training session that I completed, I learned a very easy trick that you can use before you go into a nervous situation. What you need to do is before you are due to begin the nervous event, focus on three sounds that you can hear in the environment where you are.
By doing this exercise, you will bring your mind out of your anxious future and back into the present where you can control your experience. Five minutes of an app like “Headspace” or “Calm” can also have a similar effect too.
6. Get into an unstoppable posture
What if you were like the person you aspire to be like and you were unstoppable like them? Well, you can be. The mind is easy to manipulate so all you need to do is mimic the posture of the way this person you’re thinking of would act if they were doing the same activity you are about to do.
Stand tall, believe you are on the same level as this person and hold your head up. Do a few power poses and act as if you have more success than anyone around you. Act as if you are the big shot that you one-day hope to be. You’ll be surprised how this will positively affect your nervousness.
7. Breathe deeply and slowly
When you’re nervous, your breathing typically starts to speed up. This adjustment in breath will only make you feel more nervous and potentially bring on a panic attack.
Take a few deep breaths from your belly, hold each one, and then slowly breathe out. Deep breaths will help relax you and make the nervousness manageable.
8. Don’t let sugar or caffeine take you off course
If you’re already nervous, then caffeine and sugar will only make the issue worse. These two stimulants can play havoc on a nervous mind and make you feel more uneasy. Drinking water before a nervous event is a much better strategy that will keep you hydrated and make your throat moist.
You’ll notice in an office environment that some people sit in their chair and have a hand or leg shaking for extended periods of time. This can often be caused by too much sugar or caffeine. I noticed since giving up both substances that I became much calmer in high pressure, nervous situations.
9. Prepare in advance
Often when we are nervous about a situation, it’s because we haven’t adequately prepared, and our brain knows it. When we know what we are doing back the front, we are less likely to be nervous. So before a big moment where you know you will be nervous, anchor yourself by knowing your content, conversation, or audience really well.
The aim is not to practice so you’re perfect, the aim is to know how the situation is going to play out and have a plan. You can always move away from your plan in the moment, but if you don’t have one, then you set yourself up for disaster.
10. Try a workout
Exercise can be very effective at releasing endorphins that help to relax the body. Prior to a nervous event, you can try and do a forty-five-minute workout to get the blood pumping and take your mind off things.
Many experts claim that exercise is the best-known cure for nervousness so try it for yourself.
“Like most things in life, a positive mindset will get you through any challenge that presents itself”
So that’s the basics of how to overcome nervousness. Remember it’s completely natural to be nervous and there is a hidden power in the sensation if you will reframe your mind to look at the condition as positive.
Uncomfortable situations have a lot to do with how you’re thinking about them and less to do with any magical medical condition that you can take a quick fix tablet for.
Wish me luck as I prepare to leave the amateur round of Toastmasters and deliver a highly prepared speech. I’m sure I will be nervous, but I know I’m going to take my own advice and use the energy to motivate me towards my goal to inspire others through entrepreneurship and personal development.