You finally get that presentation or meeting set with your dream account. You arrive at their office pumped up and ready to knock your presentation out of the park! But of course you have to wait…and wait….And with each passing minute you can feel that positive energy slip into anxiety and tension. Before you know it, your mind begins to wander, you’re second guessing your entire presentation, kicking yourself for not practicing more, or searching for distractions on your phone. Presentation nerves claim another victim.
Regardless of whether you’re sitting in a reception area or waiting for customers to join you for an online meeting, presentation nerves can rob you of positive energy and necessary focus. When you finally do get to your presentation, you feel awkward and uncertain. And depending on your default “Fight or Flight” response, you either race or slog through it detached from your audience and your message. Your moment in the spotlight fails to live up to it’s potential. So how do you combat this?
Actors are No Strangers to Backstage Nerves
Actors are no strangers to battling nerves before stepping into the spotlight. But unlike salespeople, if you go backstage prior to a performance, you’ll see actors moving around, stretching their bodies and vocalizing. That’s because professional actors know that sitting still prior to a performance can spell disaster. Natural nervous energy quickly turns into tension when the body has no way to release it. Tension increases anxiety and anxiety can cause you to lose focus – as well as get physically, vocally and emotionally smaller.
Very few audiences are convinced by an unfocused, anxious actor or salesperson! To maintain positive energy and focus before your presentation, follow these tried and tips from behind the curtain.
5 Actor’s Tips to Reduce Presentation Nerves
Create your own backstage.
Even in the noisiest and tightest of theaters, actors seek a space backstage where they can concentrate undisturbed and focus on their performance. Find a quiet spot before your meeting and do your best to block out others. If the wait is going to be significant, dart into an empty hallway or conference room. Be polite to the receptionist and acknowledge others if you must, but remember: The waiting room is your back-stage.
Pro Tip: Warm-up before you get to your meeting to keep nerves at bay more effectively. Download this quick 7 minute Power Presenter Warm-up.
Stay in role.
A good actor remains in role before his performance in order to retain focus and make sure he’s stage ready. (If you want to alienate a professional actor and blow his performance, try striking up a conversation with him while he’s in the wings waiting to go on stage!) You also need to commit to your staying in role. Avoid getting pulled into social chit chat before your presentation and stay focused on what you are there to accomplish (#5).
Actors move around backstage in order to disperse nervous tension and keep the energy flowing. While it’s probably inappropriate to burst into song or do jumping jacks in most office settings, there are some more discreet energizing things you can do: Walk around, stand up and rock toe to heel, twist, hum. You can also focus on moving less obvious muscles, like those in the hands, arms, chest or feet. Simply breathing into the tight spots and exhaling the tension out is less obvious but effective tension-buster.
Hands off that phone or tablet! Avoid checking email, planning the next appointment, or calculating the commission from this sale before your presentation or meeting. And don’t pick up that magazine! It’s easy to get distracted by the many tempting items at your fingertips. Think of them as traps and let your competitors fall prey to them.
Focus on your intention.
Why are you giving this presentation or having this meeting? To have an impact on your audience, right? Focus on how you intend to make them feel. Do you want them to feel excited? Intrigued? Motivated? When you’ve only got a few moments to prepare, focusing on the feeling you want to inspire in your audience is a powerful way to channel that nervous energy into positive energy.
Don’t let those presentation nerves rob you of focus and positive energy focus. Try these actor’s backstage tips for reducing nerves so you can really shine in the spotlight!