Who hasn’t had this moment: You’ve put together a presentation or workshop. You feel confident about your content; thrilled that your marketing efforts filled the available seats. Now all you have to do is wait a few hours and then present it live.
That’s right around the time when a wave of anxiety can show up with no sign of leaving. It’s like a mosquito buzzing in your bedroom: impossible to ignore.
That’s when you need anti-anxiety tools to pull out of your presentation tool box.
I’ve collected a few of them to share with you.
If you have a large audience, be sure to get out and mingle with as many people as you can before you start
I’ll go up to strangers and introduce myself: Hi! I’m Brenda Kinsel. What’s your name? What brings you here today? It’s the best antidote to anxiety because you’re already making friends with audience members and you haven’t even started yet. When you’re giving your talk from the podium or the head of a runway if it’s a fashion show, you can bring them into your talk and everyone feels cozy and intimate. I did this in an audience of 500 and it still stands out as my warmest, friendliest presentation ever.
Plan ahead for a fun time
A colleague and friend, Catherine Schuller, has done so many presentations; I wonder if she can even count them all. She gave me great advice which she received from the well-known American plus-size model, Emme. Catherine told me that every time Emme got prepared to be in front of an audience she reminded herself how incredibly wonderful this moment was: bringing a message to people who wanted to be there and receive it. Catherine told me, “Brenda, always remember the joy that brought you here and have fun.” I think of Catherine’s words all the time, even when I’m giving a teleseminar where no one sees me.
Remember, you only have to know more than your audience does
Another tool came from my piano teacher in West Fargo who insisted I start taking on piano students as an after-school job when I was fifteen. “But what can I teach them? I haven’t been studying that many years!” Mrs. Haynes told me, “You only have to know more than they do to be a good teacher.” I share this advice often with coaching clients and members of the Monthly Marketing Bundle program. I think every image consultant has been nervous about knowing enough, being professional enough, being good enough. I love reminding them that they are already fantastic. They’ll shine and sound brilliant because they know so much more about their subject than audience members do.
One last thought from celebrity chef, Katie Lee
And here’s a story about being nervous that I read in a New York Times article. It’s about celebrity chef, Katie Lee, also famous for being Billy Joel’s third ex-wife. She was going on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to promote her recipes. Her then-husband was going to perform “Only the Good Die Young.” She was petrified. She said, “I was doing yoga with my yoga teacher and I said to her, ‘I’m so nervous.’ And she said–so simple, but it made so much sense–she said: ‘Being nervous is actually being really selfish, because you’re making the situation all about yourself when really it’s about the TV audience. They’re there to have fun, and you’re there to entertain them. So stop making it all about you and just breathe.'” It worked, she said: “I just had the best time.”
What are your tools to beat performance jitters?