Talk yourself into talking

There are exceptions, but for most people the thought of speaking in front of others causes anything from nervousness to near-panic. So, what can be done to calm the excitement – whoops, sorry, nerves? In both emotional states, the heart beats faster, often there are butterflies in the stomach and probably a little perspiration too.

Anxiety, or the fear of an event in the future, is often caused by people imagining the event turning out badly. Think of something you’re anxious about – are you imagining a great outcome or does it go wrong?

Now, just imagine it being 15 minutes after the successful completion of the event. Where are the nerves now? For most people, they disappear.

If you can’t imagine it turning out well, then ask yourself what advice you would give someone else facing a similar situation. Should they do some more research, practice the talk or prepare themselves better in other ways?

Remember – if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. And what would the audience expect from that person? Take your own advice.

One final tip that works a treat: think of what you’d need for the talk to go well. Is it more confidence, to feel strong, happy or relaxed?

Then, try to remember several occasions on which you felt these feelings and immerse yourself in those experiences one by one, each time doing a simple movement, such as pressing your thumb and index finger together.

Do this often enough so you can recreate the positive feelings just by pressing the two fingers together.

Then imagine seeing yourself actually doing the talk or interview while you press the fingers together, noticing that the ‘you’ in the movie feels positive.

If you feel a little bit nervous before or during the interview, then simply press the two fingers together. Try it.

Jeremy Lazarus is executive and business coach at The Lazarus

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