So, you are all set up for your big presentation. In just a few minutes all eyes will be on you. You need to impress. But, all of a sudden nerves kick in making you feeling very anxious. All sorts of thoughts zoom past your head and you start feeling weak in the knees. I have had that a couple of times!
Anxiety is a killer of good presentations. Experts say that it increases our blood pressure, tightens up our muscles and adds physical and emotional stress. The secret of kicking this feeling away is in breathing.
“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.” ― Amit Ray
It’s not a new thing. Clinical research has indicated the positive benefits of breathing in stress management. In fact, in the Oscar winning movie The King’s Speech, the untraditional therapies of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, included various breathing techniques. It worked for King George VI and the climax of the movie was the amazing live speech he gives.
So, what are the benefits of breathing?
Quite simply, it is the most natural way to become calm and focused. Breathing fills the body with Oxygen, the most important nutrient we need. It improves concentration, slows down the heart rate and relaxes the muscles, especially in the throat area (that controls your voice). If there is anytime you need to be calm and relaxed, it is before a big presentation. Take a few minutes before your presentation starts to do the following:
Find a Sanctuary Take a quiet corner where you can focus on yourself. This may or may not be the meeting room. Choose a warm, sunny spot. Stand straight but loosen your shoulders.
Close your eyes Transport yourself away from the meeting and presentation for a few minutes. Visualize a happy place – the summer lodge, a holiday destination- anything that puts a smile on your face and sets you in a positive mood. I always think of building Lego with my son.
Breathe from your nose This might sound obvious but many of us turn towards using our mouth for breathing, especially under physical and mental stress. The nose has been purpose-built for breathing. It blocks impurities and “warms” the air before it enters our body.
Breathe in and Exhale- Deep! You want to maximize the amount of fresh oxygen into your lungs. For this reason, try to breath deeply. I think it takes double the time and effort compared to normal breathing. Just slow and steady. Exhale, from your nose, slowly.
Expand your chest Be conscious on how you body moves as you breathe in and out. If possible, extend your hands side wards, just as if you are going to give someone a hug. This motion extends the chest and allows the lung to fill up with more fresh air.
Doing this for a few minutes will already make you feel great and set you up in a positive frame of mind. Grab a cup of green tea and get ready to make a killer presentation. You will do great!