One key to overcoming the fear response related to public speaking is to distract yourself so that you don’t obsess on your nerves. Remember, “where your focus goes, energy flows.” Here are some things that I recommend to do in the minutes prior to a presentation:
1. Focus all of your attention on the present speaker—actively listen and take notes.
2. Count the number of floor tiles or how many people are wearing blue (or ties, or pairs of glasses, whatever!) in the room.
3. Remind yourself of your main point or overall message. Don’t try and go over the entire speech in your head, just remind yourself of your main message.
4. Have a private joke for yourself—like the old adage of imagining the audience in their underwear. Come up with something that will make you smile.
5. Try an internal pep-talk: “I’m a brilliant speaker,” “Boy I’m good-lookin’,” “Everyone loves me!” (if it makes you smile, then it’s good.)
6. Do a breathing exercise: count your inhales and exhales. Count the length of each exhalation.
7. Tighten and relax muscles in your body. Focus on your feet: clench your toes for a few seconds and then let them relax. Tighten your calf muscles and relax. Take an internal inventory and find your tense spots—if you can do it without other people noticing, tense and relax that area.