10 thoughts on calming event anxiety

Plenty of people struggle with giving talks, making presentations, running workshops etc, especially if its the first time, a new topic or a bigger group than you are used to.

Is this you? If so, here are some thoughts to help you prepare and sail through that next big event.

  1. Name all the things that are freaking you out – say them! Write them down! Cry if you need to. Think ‘it’s not fair’ or ‘it’s all shit’ if you need to. Do this as early as you can, as soon as you notice you are procrastinating and feeling fear. Strong feelings are better noticed and expressed then swept under the rug.
  2. Conjure up some kindness for yourself about what’s freaking you out – ‘yes of course that would be stressful, well no wonder that’s hard’.
  3. Think of three things you could do to feel more calm on the day: Have picked your outfit in advance? Have checked the travel time and given yourself enough time? Have practiced your talk with a colleague? Maybe have visited the venue before and stood up on the stage in the empty room? Have a nice connected chat with a taxi driver, barista, another presenter or conference attendee about something else beforehand? Make sure you commit to doing these things.
  4. Imagine arriving fully prepared, now get started and get preparing
  5. Remember to also focus on other things on your horizon: a dinner next week, an article the week after, that summer holiday you’ve been thinking of next month… If you let the event be the ONLY thing in the future it will feel all consuming, let yourself have a timeline that is much lounger than the time leading up to the event.
  6. Does exercise help you get out of your head and back into your body? If so a brisk walk or run the morning of the event, or a slow stroll around the neighbourhood with your camera might shift your focus.
  7. Lower your expectations and lower the stakes: rather than ‘I have to give a world class presentation otherwise everyone will think I’m stupid’ see if you can change your goal to ‘as long as I turn up, deliver my talk, and talk to two people at the conference all day I’ve done enough’
  8. Reconnect with the bigger why – presumably you’re doing this because you care about a topic or issue, and want to help someone else learn from your experiences, or do their job better – focus on that goal, imagine how much time or effort or pain you can save your audience if they learn from what you share
  9. Know that if you are doing something new it is absolutely normal to feel out of your comfort zone, tell yourself this kindly. After all feeling ashamed that we are scared and angry at ourselves for being scared just makes us feel worse.
  10. Know that this is a gift to future self – you’re wracking up experience so this will be easier and more comfortable for future you, and future you will thank you.


Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash

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