Your big, important meeting is coming up -- whether for your next big book deal, a second interview for your dream job or a presentation for your passion project -- and you're nervous.
Knots form in your stomach, it becomes hard to swallow. Your hands are clammy, your chest tight, and your shoulders feel tense. Every once in a while your heart picks up the pace and you find yourself actively attempting to slow the rhythm using breathing techniques or other tricks you've learned over the years. Hands shaking, you close your eyes to focus on the breath. Eating becomes a chore, and you know you need to calm yourself.
Contrary to how you feel, nerves aren't all bad. I know they feel like it, especially when you're in the moment.
Designed to keep us safe from harm, nerves kick in as a fight or flight response inherited from our ancestors. The problem is that your nerves don't always understand when the time is right, so sometimes you feel dread when you know the timing is silly.
When your next big meeting comes up, use these 5 ways to stay calm. Each of these techniques has helped me at one time or another, and they remain my go-to cures when I feel especially nervous.
1. Set future you up for success.
Pre-mortem activities can help you relieve the stress you feel right before you leave the house for your next big meeting by allowing you to prepare ahead of time.
Look ahead. Figure out what you can do now that will make your meeting day easier. Plan your outfit, put everything you need in your bag or briefcase by the door. If everything you need is ready to go, you can relax knowing you won't forget something important later.
2. Practice, practice, practice.
Rehearse interview questions, read your speech aloud, think about the most important things you need to mention, and plan what key points you need to make. Remember the point of your meeting and aim to hit all of the talking points you need to mention.
Spare a few minutes for practice, and you're bound to feel more prepared and calm.
3. Pump yourself up.
Turn the jitters into focused enthusiasm for what's ahead. Not only will you not focus on your nerves, this a reminder to feel excited for what's ahead instead of dreading change. What will happen if this meeting goes perfectly? Envision this change and let the excitement wash over you.
Drink some coffee or an energy drink, plug in your headphones, and blast some music you can dance to. Really allow yourself to move with the music and pump yourself up.
4. Think positive thoughts.
You may think to become prepared means getting ready for all the worst case scenarios you can envision, but study after study shows how effective positive visualization is for people.
Imagine your meeting going perfectly and give positivity a shot!
5. Stop nerves before they fully kick in.
Exercise the morning of your next big meeting. Working out is proven to boost endorphins and neurotransmitters like serotonin that make you feel happy, and relieving stress are all about getting ahead of the negative feelings that come with nerves.
Make it a habit to exercise the morning you have a big event, which helps alleviate anxiety throughout your entire day. Get up and hit the pavement, and the rest of your day will feel easier.
Which technique will you try before your next big meeting? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. I'd love to hear if any of my tips helped you out.