You stare at yourself in the mirror intensely as you lean over the sink in the bathroom at your office. Is that sweat on your forehead? Yes it is. Your heart is beating faster and you realize this is a slight anxiety attack just before you have to give a presentation to your administrators. Although you have spent plenty of time researching statistics and collecting data in preparation of selling your idea to this group of stern decision-makers; you now realize that you did not take the time to focus on the way you would present yourself.
The above is a common scenario where one realizes that intelligence alone is not enough when it comes to connecting with people in professional situations. When its time to close deals, attain new clients or get approvals to implement new ideas; much more is being looked at than how much knowledge you have. It is imperative the individual is sending a message to their audience that conveys they are competent and able to lead any team to accomplish the proposed vision. No one will be convinced by a sweating, bumbling, shaking presenter behind the podium who cannot seem to pull it together.
The key thing to remember is that every person may experience a bit of nervousness anytime they are being put in a position where they may be subjected to the judgment and critique of others. It is a natural reaction but the difference between those who are successful in these situations and those who are not is that one group finds their center and pushes through the tension; and the other does not. Here are a few ways to make sure that you are not in the latter:
Affirm to yourself that you are already familiar with the material.
Repeating this in your mind and in the mirror will allow the idea to sink in on a subconscious level so that you do not experience extra tension from fear of not remembering what you need to present. Just make sure that you have actually familiarized yourself with the material! That’s the easy part. The more challenging part is fully processing the fact that you are knowledgeable on the subject so that you don’t have to concentrate on it so hard. Then you can focus on more important things such as keeping your breath steady. This takes us to the next suggestion…
Do breathing exercises to relax yourself and set a comfortable breathing pattern.
We always hear about the importance of being able to control our breath because it helps us control our minds. You want to give the mind something to focus on, so by directing it to the way you are breathing, you are killing a few birds with one stone. The physical benefits of the deep inhale and exhale are that it will slow the heart rate and allow more oxygen to the brain which will naturally put you more at ease. As the mind is focused on the breathing pattern, it does not have as much time to wander on to self-defeating thoughts or ideas that would create more anxiety. In addition to the internal effects, externally you will be projecting a warm, calm and balanced disposition.
See yourself there before you get there.
Mostly everyone is familiar with the technique of visualization. Athletes, public speakers, political figures, performers and many others understand the value of envisioning the entire scenario in the exact way they want to experience it. Doing this gives us a sense of familiarity. When we engage in the actual activity, our mind will go back to what was visualized previously. We feel more confident since we’ve already had the experience in some way; it helps us feel that we are prepared with what to say and what to do. Be very detailed and thorough in your vision. You will want to see yourself moving through the entire situation, from the time you walk into the room and greet the audience to when you are answering questions after opening the floor for feedback.
Clear your heart and mind through meditation.
Know the difference between visualization and meditation. Find somewhere quiet, turn off all distractions, sit down in a comfortable position and be silent; that includes silencing your mind. Instead of doing your visualizations in this moment, you want to dedicate some time to clearing your mind. The thoughts may be swimming around your head but you are not focusing on them. You are looking past them and searching your heart. Determine what you feel there. Fear? Courage? Love? If you sense fear in your heart, try to let go of any of the ideas in your mind that are causing this feeling. Feel free to ask your Higher Power to help you release any negative emotions and to fill you with confidence while you’re in this space.
As you inhale and exhale deeply, focus the mind on your breath and notice how you begin to experience something too deep inside of you to be explained here. Find that place of peace. If you don’t find it the first few times, continue over time until you do. It exists in everyone. It is from that place within you that you connect with how powerful you really are. As you realize this, the self-doubt and self-consciousness will dissipate. The more you are able to connect with yourself in that way, the more trust and appreciation you gain for yourself. When the day comes for you to speak with eloquence, confidence and to be self-assured; your mind will reflect back on the state of realization and peace that you attained for those moments and you will be empowered as you stand before any group of people.
We have all met book-smart individuals who seem to have everything going for them intellectually, but don’t reach their fullest potential. When you look a bit closer, you notice that they would prefer not to speak up when they have good ideas. They would rather not be in front of large groups of people. They seem to shrink when face to face with intimidating characters. You realize that they lack the inner-strength and confidence needed to excel socially-demanding environments. It is about being able to connect with others. It is about knowing who you are and feeling comfortable enough with yourself to let others know too. It is about breaking through all psychological barriers so that you can effectively express yourself in a way that others will believe in your competence and will be willing to work alongside you to help accomplish your vision.
Whether in professional or personal settings, these suggestions can be practiced by making them a part of your daily routine. This way you will always be prepared to rise to any challenge, even the unexpected ones. You will want to spend more time on your visualizations when you are specifically aware of upcoming events. The more we practice, the better prepared we are on GAME DAY.