Got a big meeting? Huge presentation? Ginormous job interview? Humungaginormalungous date? Feeling nervous? Here are some tips:
Take a deep breath. I don’t care if it’s just one. Put down the presentation deck. If you don’t know it by now, this last minute ain’t gonna fix that. Quiet some of the voices in your head with a simple breathing meditation. Having adrenaline is fine, but too much and it’ll come across as intense or anxious.
If you can't sit down and breathe because you're too nervous, go the other way and exercise. Jog around the block before the presentation, or shake out your arms and legs, or hold an Amy Cuddy power pose.
2) Answer your “What if…?” questions.
You’ll find things will never be as bad as you imagine.
What if I present so badly that they fire me? Then you’ll find a new job.
What if I can’t find a new job? Then you’ll invent one. We live in a day and age where you don’t need to live by the old rules of working anymore.
What if I invent a job that’s a failure? Invent another one. Again, this isn’t your parents’ generation where you find one career when you’re 12 and do it until you die. People go through careers like trends nowadays. Enjoy the change.
What if I can never find a job again and run out of money and can’t buy food and die? All jokes aside, this is the kind of shit your mind will come up with to fear. And you can still answer it. Then you’ll be dead and you won’t have to worry about any of that crap.
3) Remember, nobody cares about you.
(Wow, this took a turn.) I don’t mean that in the “nobody will ever love you” way, but in the “people only think about themselves” way. Everyone in the meeting is busy preparing their own clever things to say, or thinking about their breath, or the fact that they’re hungry. If they do think about you, it’ll be to thank god they’re not presenting right now, and to wonder if their armpits are also sweaty.
I often point out to my classes, that the person presenting isn't the one who's most scared in the room, it's the person who has to go next.
4) Remember, the audience likes you.
WHAT?! You just said they didn't!! Yeah, I meant they don't care whether you mess up or not. But they're actually rooting you on. In a presentation, they want to understand and learn from you. In an interview, they want you to be a good candidate so they can stop interviewing so many people. In an improv show, they want you to succeed because they want to laugh. Believe it or not, they're on your side.
4) Be open to making mistakes.
Flubbing a word or forgetting something in your preamble isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can often lighten the mood and remind people that this isn’t the most important thing in the history of humanity. Speaking of humanity, it also makes you seem human, more than a perfect robot. We like humans. I mean, we also like robots, but not quite as much. Yet.
Have a cat video on your phone, or a photo that always makes you smile. Listen to music that makes you sing. Whatever it is. Release those endorphins. If you can laugh before a meeting (or during!) it's gonna be a good meeting.
6) Rub one out.
I never tried it, but theoretically it should work. I recommend doing this before the meeting, not during. Bonus points if you get into the executive washroom.