What memories do you have that make you feel good? Those memories that access moments when you felt powerful and confident. In those moments everything was simple, easy, fun and you could really do things. You might think of the time you solved a maths problem and suddenly realised you understood it, had mastered it and felt good about it. You might have been looking with wonder into the eyes of your first born. It could be after saving hard for a games console (I’m thinking of my son back in the days of Nintendo 64s here!), you triumphantly stepped into the store and proudly handed over your money. Or maybe that you told a joke that others found eye-wateringly funny and you knew it was because of your timing.
These are the golden treasury of memories that will sustain you when you are feeling nervous and inadequate – often a state some get into before a presentation.
So to reduce the anticipatory anxiety – something that can ramp up tension unnecessarily a week, two weeks and even longer before a presentation – try accessing your ‘Power Memories’. These will reassure and remind you of your competence, capability and confidence.
Take 3 slow breaths. On the in-breath, breathe in peace and calm and on the out-breath breathe out tension and anxiety. Then progressively focus on each part of your body, starting with your face and head, giving that part your permission to be as tense as it needs. It can then relax and get heavier and heavier.
Recreate your happy memory – think about the moment you could do no wrong when things fell into place, everything was easy and inevitable. Think of it as though it’s happening now. Get into your stride. Then remember music or sounds that access that pleasure, that tranquility, that joy and recognition. Inhabit that feeling for as long as you can. When you are really feeling it, immediately imagine your presentation. This is what it’ll be like to be successful and you will be feeling exactly like this. Practice this several times.
When you’re ready, just count 1, 2, 3 and open your eyes, still keeping the feeling alive within you.