Are You As Cool As A Cucumber Before Your Presentations?

Sitting in the entrance to the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) in London I was as cool as a cucumber when I received a panicked text from my new client.

“On my way …. 5 mins lare…” (obviously in a rush, hence the typo on ‘late’)

“Phew,” I thought. “That could have been me.”

I could have been in a rush, running late, swearing, sweating, heart pumping, totally anxious about my presentation or pitch with anxiety levels bursting off the pressure scale.

However, as I sat there, I smiled to myself because I knew the pain my client was going through, and he wasn’t even under pressure, I was the one doing the pitching that day!

You see, I’m not sure if you know your ‘Myers Briggs’ type? I know myself, I happen to be an ENTP (the P at the end means my natural default position is to thrive on adrenaline and leave things until the last minute)

Arrrhhhhh! It’s SOOOOO stressful. (I used to run on adrenaline at the BBC, all the time, as you’re always against the clock in a live studio.)

I decided a long time ago NEVER to be under self-inflicted pressure again.

You don’t have to either!

The tip today is very simple and will help you avoid having to write that fateful rushed text with sweating palms!

When you perform in front of your organisation, pitch or present your business case to clients – you are ALREADY under a huge amount of pressure.

Your heart rate will be off the scale, you’ll be worried about saying the wrong thing, forgetting your lines, sweating or going red. Your cortisol levels (stress hormone) will increase with the rate of your heart.

You really want to be as calm as possible, as cool as a cucumber, when you’re faced with a HIGH pressure scenario! The last thing you need is added angst.

So, here's the one easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy tip you can adopt immediately that helps you reduce your fear, anxiety and worry levels immediately…

Quite simply – GET THERE EARLY!

It’s funny, my husband is always telling me to be early for the airport – he’d opt for arriving 5 hours before our flight to Ibiza with the kids. Aaarhh that’s TOO EARLY.

I call him Mr Twearly – because he is stupidly early all the time and I hate waiting around because I have NO patience.

However… he does have a point and I have learnt through bitter experience not to put myself under pressure and to take his advice. It works.

You don’t have to be ‘twearly’ but you do have to be cool, calm and collected.

Just by giving yourself 15 minutes extra you can;

  • Go to the loo.
  • Adopt the power pose if you need a confidence boost.
  • Think about your opening line.
  • Psyche yourself up so you are in the zone.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply to get your cortisol levels down (it take 45 seconds get rid of cortisol if you calmly breathe out).
  • A vocal warm up (if you have some privacy).
  • Go over your notes.
  • Turn your phone off.
  • Take in the view.
  • Have a cup of tea.
  • Smile and enjoy watching other people rushing around you (knowing that that could have been you!)

The list is endless.  Why wouldn’t you give yourself the competitive advantage?

P.S. You can be earlier and sitting across the street in a coffee shop. And then you can stroll in 15 minutes prior to the appointment and look like a total professional.

I have now learnt to be an ENTJ (the J stands for long term planner).

So here’s your challenge.  From this moment on – get there early.  Add in that extra 15 minutes before your meeting. Don’t let your PA book your meetings back to back – make sure you get that all important breathing space so you can waft in effortlessly, as cool as a cucumber.

I’d love to hear your ‘running late’ stories and how much time you give yourself now!

Email me

For more excellent advice and tips on speaking, confidence and communication please do get in contact right now.

Matthew Stroud