Bringing awareness to our physical bodies can help. Notice the physical sensations happening: a racing heart, shallow breathing, tightening of the chest, sweat, a cracking voice. Be aware of your body’s cues and take a deep breath to regain some sense of the present. Notice your surroundings. Anchor or touch something physical, such as a table or the slide advancer, or push your weight into your toes and feet. Here are a few other ways you can help calm your nerves by tuning into your body:
- Don’t take the basics for granted. Get a good night’s sleep, hydrate, and watch your caffeine intake before a big presentation so that your heart rate isn’t already elevated. Also, make sure that you’ve eaten a good meal and that you aren’t going in hungry.
- Strike a power pose. Some research has shown that holding strong physical poses (e.g., hands on hips, feet apart, like Wonder Woman) can make you feel more confident. One paper found it even led to hormonal changes, though that finding has since been disputed. But even if power poses are just a placebo effect, plenty of people say this technique helps them feel grounded before a big talk.
- Shift your center of gravity. Stand up and take a deep breath. Imagine a heavy lead ball in your stomach. Feel the weight of it. Feel the solidity of it. Bring your focus here instead of to your head or chest.
- Own the space. If you can, get to the room early and really imagine owning it. Walk the perimeter, check out the configuration, and notice the size of the room. Like a radio dial, think about how much you can authentically dial up your volume, expression, or gestures to match the size of room.