It’s time for the Big Presentation. You’re going to be in front of some very important people. Maybe there will be a lot of them. Maybe you’ll be on an actual stage. As the sound guy wires up your microphone, you wonder if the sound system will pick up your pounding heartbeat and if the electrical system will short out from your sweaty palms.
I have written in the past about how to handle the pressure that naturally comes with presentations. Here are the five “Ps” to remember, and here is a post titled Delivering Presentations without Pants. Although I’ve written already about this subject, I ran across a very helpful mental model to help with the butterflies, this one from Daniel Pink, author of the book When. I hadn’t heard of this approach before and thought it helpful to share with you.
I’ll let you watch Daniel’s very short video on the subject. You can watch it here.
Being an effective presenter – like many things – can have a lot to do with the story we tell ourselves. Daniel cites an interesting study that suggests the helpful advice to “keep calm” is ineffective. Better, in Daniel’s word, to “reframe that nervousness as excitement”.
Nervousness and excitement are “high arousal” emotions, whereas calmness is not. The likelihood that you’ll be able to switch from your high-arousal state to a low arousal state is slim. When Daniel says “reframe”, he’s talking about a narrative you tell yourself.
This insight can be used other ways. Instead of saying “I HAVE to ….(go here/ do this task)”, try instead “I GET to …(go here/do this task)”. Just as Daniel’s points about presentation reframing channels energy (from nervousness to excitement), the “I get to..” sentence construction also reframes our attitudes (from obligation to gratitude).
Listen – there’s nothing that changes the fact that it is good and appropriate for us to be nervous prior to a big presentation. But in this video and the links I provide above there are some good ideas to help prepare your body for peak performance.