Have you ever had a huge presentation - one where you really wanted to (and needed to) deliver the perfect performance but you weren’t sure where to start? You started to prepare, but the more you prepared, the more you got lost in a cycle of memorization and focusing on creating slides with more and more information. As you worked harder and harder to memorize your presentation materials, you started to feel more and more uncertainty and nervousness. Before you knew it, you were doubting your own expertise and having images of being a failure. If this situation sounds familiar, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
This preparation cycle is a common pattern we see when we are coaching our clients to prepare for their biggest and best performances. It comes from a place of wanting to do a great job but not really knowing how to prepare properly. In this void, you default to what you know best - memorize, memorize, memorize, then info dump on your audience. Unfortunately, the real difference maker here is actually preparing your body and brain for a must-win performance so you can enter your presentation with a clear and uncluttered mind. This high performance state allows you to effortlessly connect yourself, your audience, and your content in order to successfully deliver on the day of your event.
I recently worked with a client to design a preparation plan for one of the biggest presentations of her career. While each person's preparation can be highly individualized, the routine we developed for her can be applied and adapted to most of your big events.
Here's how you can use a plan like hers to prepare for your next presentation:
_Start by writing down 3 simple intentions you have for your presentation by answering these questions: How do I want to be perceived? How do I want the audience to feel? What do I need them to know?
_Next, visualize how the room will look, how you will use your energy, and various ways the audience might respond to your message. If a feeling of anxiety pops up, embrace it by viewing the feeling as natural and potentially helpful. See yourself reacting confidently as these feelings arise.
_For the 3 days leading up to the presentation, purposefully increase your sleep by 1 hour.
_When it comes to food, the day before your presentation, try removing all processed foods from your diet and focus on staying hydrated. The evening before, have a go-to high performance meal such as broiled salmon on a bed of quinoa spinach salad. The morning of your event, prepare a high performance breakfast and a small snack consisting of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
_The day of the presentation, outsource your distractions. For example, delegate any urgent emails to your assistant the morning of your presentation.
_The morning of the event, start your day with Movement that activates your entire brain and makes you feel energized and pain free (Tignum Daily Prep, Yoga, a short jog, a short bike ride, Tai Chi, etc.). Take a short walk just before your presentation. During this short walk, you can reflect on your 3 intentions and use mental imagery to pre-play a successful delivery of those intentions. See yourself in the flow and rhythm of a great presentation. By combining your Mindset and Movement techniques, you will increase your left/right brain balance and, therefore, your brain synchronization.
_Stay hydrated throughout the day and consider the strategic use of caffeine. One way to do this is to avoid caffeine all day until you have a cup of green tea, black tea, or coffee 30 to 60 minutes before your presentation.
This preparation plan combines small yet effective strategies in Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery to give you control of your own performance so you can break your previous cycle of uncertainty before a presentation. Not only can it help you successfully prepare for your biggest performance yet, you now have a foundation for your own individualized plan in place so that you will never be caught unprepared again. Remember, Sustainable High Performance doesn't happen by luck, it happens by choice, and it improves with design.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
Director of Performance Coaching
For strategies on how to use your feelings of nervousness, click here.