From CEOs with decades of public speaking experience to first-time job seekers straight out of school, college or university, nerves are undoubtedly one of life’s great levellers.

Whether before an interview, presentation or any other stressful event, it’s worth remembering that feeling anxious is a perfectly normal physical reaction. As inconvenient as they may be, typical symptoms, such as sweaty palms and a dry throat are just nature’s way of preparing you for whatever’s lurking within that interview room or conference hall.

Unfortunately, nature does not seem to care that a sudden hit of adrenalin is not always the most appropriate form of preparation under the circumstances – unless it comes with laser focus and total recall. In the absence of these, however, here are some simple ways to keep your belly butterfly-free when it matters.

1. Rehearse
There are few better safeguards against an attack of the jitters than knowing your material like the back of your hand. Rather than focusing on your delivery, invest time in knowing exactly what you are going to say, which will boost your confidence and help to relax you on a subconscious level.

2. Breathe
An adrenalin-induced shortage of oxygen is certainly no aid to clear, measured delivery. Counteract the natural tendency towards shallow breathing in stressful situations by deliberately lengthening your breath. Inhaling and exhaling slowly as you count backwards from 10 will also help to regulate your breathing and leave you feeling calmer.

3. Visualise
While the old ‘picture them naked’ technique may not always be appropriate, imagining your interviewer or audience as friendly and encouraging before you walk through the door can trick your brain into thinking everything is going swimmingly before it actually is.

4. Laugh
Not necessarily during the presentation or the interview itself (unless you’re addressing a clown convention), but somewhere private just before you step in front of your audience or interview panel. Research shows that a good, hearty guffaw releases endorphins while stimulating circulation and helping muscle relaxation- all natural antidotes to stress. Make sure no one is looking/can hear though, you looney!

At the end of the day, nerves are part and parcel of professional life. Try recognising that that burst of adrenaline could mean all your cylinders are, in fact, firing perfectly and you are now Super-Candidate/Presenter. Or try treating the symptoms as the minor, mildly annoying frustration that they are and employ the above handy countermeasures. Doing so will mean nerves can be easily managed.

Reference: The Muse; abintegro
08 Feb 2017
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