Turning Anxiety into Positive Energy
Last week, we explained how anxiety doesn’t have to be a
hindrance to a successful presentation or a fruitful training session.
Today we show you how to harness the negative feelings of anxiety and
convert them to useful positive energy.
Be yourself and work within your style.
Nothing can cause pre-session jitters faster than preparing to be
someone you’re not. If you’re not comfortable telling anecdotal stories
to reinforce a point or throwing gum out to participants who offer good
ideas, then don’t. Ask your participants to share a relevant story to
reinforce your point. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to grow as a
presenter. Many of the techniques effective trainers use to add fun to a
workshop and reinforce learning are within your reach. But, you should
make them your own and work within your own style. Trying to be the
speaker you admired at the seminar you attended last week will only
heighten your nervousness.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
This may be the easiest way to reduce pre-session nervousness. If you
know your content – really know your content – you’ll feel more
confident. Some trainers feel nervous because they are unsure about what
they need to accomplish or uncertain about the content. Go through all
the materials. Watch the video. Check out the room and the audio-visual
equipment. Think about the content within the framework of your
organization. Are there any disconnects? What questions do you
Rehearse your first five minutes – over and over again.
For some, nervousness triggers uncomfortable physical reactions like a
shaky voice, wobbly knees, or sweaty palms. To combat these physical
reactions, mentally rehearse the first few minutes of your session. Do
so, right up until the moment you’re “on.” Knowing your first few
minutes cold gives you the time you need to overcome your anxiety. And,
keep in mind that the tremble in your voice or the wobble in your knees
is much more noticeable to you than to any of your participants. And,
understand that the physical discomfort you’re experiencing will pass –
probably within the first few minutes.
Take a deep breath and smile.
Taking a deep breath (or two or three) forces you to concentrate on
your breathing. Thinking about your breathing will help you regulate it
and slow yourself down a bit. After inhaling and exhaling slowly, smile.
Smiling is psychologically proven to help us feel better. And, the best
thing about approaching your audience with a smile is that someone will
probably smile in return.
Imagine your success.
Instead of thinking about all the things that might go wrong, focus
your energy on your impending success. Performers of all types,
athletes, and even politicians have reaped the benefits of positive
mental imagery. Spend a few minutes before your session thinking about
the positive response of your audience. Imagine their attentive faces,
their smiles and nods, their laughs. Imagine their interest and
appreciation for their opportunity to learn. And, while you’re at it,
imagine them coming up to you at the end and telling you how much they
learned and how glad they are that they attended your session. This is
your positive mental image and yours alone. Make it all that you want it
Eat healthy and sleep well.
This may sound elementary but it’s sound, practical advice. Eating a
lot of junk food, drinking a lot of caffeine drinks and not getting
enough sleep the evening before your presentation will add to your
jitters and make your nervous stomach feel worse. No, we’re not
suggesting that you need to eat tofu, wheat germ, and bean sprouts to
give an effective presentation. And, yes, you can start your day with
that much needed cup of coffee. But, be smart the night before. Think
before you say yes to a heavy meal or a second helping and consider
taking a half portion of that rich dessert. Eat light and smart before
your session. Avoid high-fat foods and sugary snacks. In addition to
making your nervous stomach feel worse, your energy level may take a
dive. And, drink caffeine drinks cautiously. Too many may make you feel
jittery and cause your throat to feel dry. Drink water instead.
Remember, only you know what you’re planning to say.
Okay, you’re prepared. Perhaps you’ve even practiced. But the idea
that you might forget something or say something wrong continues to
unsettle you. Keep in mind that your participants are along for the
ride. They may have an understanding of the learning objectives but they
don’t know your plan. They don’t know what you’re going to say or how
you’re going to deliver the content. Sure, you have a responsibility to
cover the content and address the learning objectives but if you do so,
you really can’t do anything wrong. You may just do it differently than
you planned and if so, you’ll be the only one who knows!
Enthusiastically greet attendees.
Greeting attendees may ease some of your nervousness because you’re
not jumping onstage cold. So, smile, shake hands, and introduce
Enjoy helping others learn.
Watching others learn is the best part of our job as trainers. So
tame that nervousness and turn it into positive energy you can use to
create a safe and fun environment for learning.
Remember, practice pushes us towards perfection and eventually these
steps might become routine. However, sometimes routines grow stale, dull
and boring. Please come back next week where we highlight 4 Tips to Convert the Routine to Positive Energy. Thanks for stopping by…
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