How To Feel Less Pressure Before A Performance
The day has come.
The big game that you’ve been practicing for. The important, career-defining sales presentation. The interview for your dream job. It’s exactly what you wanted — but you’re feeling more nervous and anxious than anything else.
There’s no delaying the situation; it’s fast approaching and you’ll have to deal with it, regardless of how you’re feeling. What you need right now is not questions about why you’re feeling this way, but simple answers — for how to calm yourself, relax and focus on your performance so you can be your best and show the game that got you to this point.
This post is about exactly how to do that.
Remind Yourself Of How You Got Here
You practiced. You trained. You rehearsed. You know what you’re there to do, and how to do it, so well that you don’t even need to think about it.
Instead though, you’re nervous and self-conscious.
Remember this: By the time you get to the performance, the work has already been done.
You earned your spot and your opportunity. That’s the only way you could’ve gotten here in the first place. Someone believed in you and your ability, enough to put you on the team or on the stage or in the front of the room. You may feel you have something to prove, but actually, you’ve already proved it. Your performance is simply when everyone else finds out about it. You and your team already know what “they” are about to find out.
Find Your Mental “Zone”
The best way to get focused when you need it, is to already have a method for getting focused and being able to step into it on-call.
Before my performances as an athlete and now as a presenter in a sales meeting or giving a speech, I had and have routines. As a player, I had music that I liked listening to on my way to the gym, and a process to my warmup that was the same every time. My mind and body were conditioned for it; no surprises at game time. As a presenter, before I hit the stage I go over my key talking points and like to get to the venue — where ever I’ll be speaking — early, to get a feel for the room and start visualizing where I’ll be or how I’ll move about the space.
You’re in your zone when you’re locked in, focused, and don’t need to think about anything. You won’t even think about the fact that you’re in that zone while you’re in it. You know your game so well that thinking only gets in your way, anyhow. All you need is to clear your mind and do your thing.
This is all part of your performance preparation; if it hasn’t been up to now, make it part of your preparation moving forward.
Take Deep Breaths And Visualize
Taking deep breaths is not just for show. There are tangible, scientific benefits to the exercise.
Deep breathing slows your heart rate and oxygenates your blood, which has a calming effect on your nervous system. The oxygen increase relieves muscle tension and your focus on breathing brings you to a more focused and present state, taking your mind off of the subject of any anxiety.
While doing this deep breathing, visualize what you’re about to do. See yourself delivering a flawless presentation. Look at the spots on the court you expect to shoot from and imagine your shots going in, nothing but net. Visualize so deeply that you start to feel how you’ll feel when you’re doing it.
Make a habit of the above for every performance you’re involved in until it becomes routine. Done consistently, you’ll never be overcome with the anxious or nervous emotions that do nothing for a performer but get in your way.