I have been doing some public speaking on mental toughness recently and like many people, I am distinctly uncomfortable throughout the public speaking process. My anxiety heightens in the hours beforehand and over the first few minutes of the presentation. I look desperately for signs of approval and affirmation in the audience to increase confidence.
This situation is laden with irony for a mental toughness speaker. However, we all react differently to uncertainty. Some people like the adventure and excitement of not knowing what lays ahead but for most people it makes sense, where we can, to prepare beforehand.
Stress and anxiety can arise and overwhelm even the strongest of desires for success. If we know ahead of time what the triggers are that could cause stress and anxiety we will be able to better combat them with a careful plan – enabling ourselves to overcome any negatives that come our way.
In my case I plan in quite some detail so that I’m very well prepared. I visualise as much as I can how it is going to go, the setting, the microphone, the introductions as well as what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it. This preparation creates more control and certainty in my mind which in turn will increase confidence. The above mantra:
“Don’t be scared, be prepared”
works for me.
For other people preparation comes in the form of eating and drinking the right food and drink before the “event”. This may include staying hydrated by drinking lots of water, getting plenty of vitamins B, C and E to boost the effectiveness of the nervous system or never eating a huge meal just before an event. Meditation may also help them calm any fears they have about a particularly stressful or anxious situation. Short term stretches or deep breathing will help boost their confidence. It’s worth watching Amy Cuddy’s power posing video for some practical advice.
So, where you have something coming up you are uncertain about prepare as much as you can to reduce your stress and anxiety and increase your confidence.