Enjoy presentation adrenalin. Purge post-presentation epinephrin.

Understanding the neurobiology of presentation nerves

helps keep you calm on stage

by Peter Watts

The hormone we associate with presentation stress is adrenalin, and it’s a great little hormone. It boosts our performance, sustained for just long enough by its buddy-hormone, epinephrin.

Think of epinephrine as a garden centre grow-bag for adrenalin. It delivers optimal nutrients to extend your adrenalin spike. Whereas adrenalin is short-lived, epinephrin is sturdy. Its designed to stay in our bodies until the stressor has passed, and shifting it from your system requires aerobic activity. Without this, it hangs around, and here’s where things can go wrong?

When something stresses us, the body releases adrenalin and follows it up with a slug of epinephrin. Imagine that you have just finished a presentation. You are, at that moment fully topped-up on epinephrin which, without aerobic activity, will hang around your system all the way home and beyond.

If something else stresses you, say someone in their car cuts you at the lights, then bang goes another shot of adrenalin, followed by yet another slug of epinephrin. That slug joins the epinephrin pool already present in your body and tops the system up to a new higher level.

Every subsequent stressor does the same thing, until rather than finding itself being followed by a controlled shot of epinephrin, adrenalin finds itself being fired into a pre-existing epinephrine lake?

This is where chronic stress syndrome starts. If not managed, the epinephrin lake never adequately discharges, producing stress-related health issues?

Aerobic activity is the solution, and this doesn’t require a gym. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can. With each step, you lower the lake. Dog walkers seem to be universally chilled people. Why? All that walking discharges epinephrine, and you don’t necessarily need a dog to do it. Much of my own life involves airports, and as a practical measure I avoid the moving walkways. Walking to the gate helps walk-off the epinephrin?

When presenting we often stretching our limits. It’s important afterwards to remember to stretch our limbs.

Presentation nerves

Nine proven routes to calm and confident presenting

by Peter Watts

Beating presentation nerves can seem like a battle; a no-holds-barred FIGHT to overcome your fears. Bosses and colleagues, like drill sergeants, urge us from the trenches and up onto the no-mans land of the stage.

“You’re team needs you. Get out there soldier!”

This approach is completely wrong.

First point to be aware of: Presentation nerves can never be eliminated, and it would not be desirable to do so. Controlled nervous tension can promote excellence.

Second point to be aware of: The tangible bodily sensations that come with presentation nerves, can be easily managed if we understand the mechanics that create them.

That’s what this article will help you to do. I’m not going to tell you how to beat presentation nerves, because I believe that as a natural bodily reaction we should work with our jitters, not against them. When we focus on beating nerves we just drive them deeper into our psyches. Instead, we can understand them, and adopt simple measures that make presenting a significantly easier process.

Do any of the following affect you when presenting?

  • Tightness of breath
  • Rapid heart-rate
  • Sweating
  • Blushing
  • Cold or clammy hands
  • Trembling
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Tension headaches
  • Loss of concentration
  • Dry-throat
  • Scratchy voice
  • Low self-esteem

If yes, then within the following articles, you will find practical measures that work with your body to overcome those reactions. Each heading is a link. Simply click on it to review the associated article:

Breathing yourself calm

Sensations associated with presentation nerves are soothed by effective breathing. Find out how controlling your out-breathe lowers your heart rate to control sweating, blushing, trembling, blood-pressure, and nervous tension.

Calming the butterflies

Presentation nerves suppress appetite, so that when we approach a presentation we are more in need of food than we realize. As blood sugars collapse, our concentration collapses with them, and our stomachs develop those familiar butterfly wings.

Find out what to eat, what not to eat, and when to eat, in order to calm presentation butterflies

Dealing with dry mouth

Voice rapidly heading for a croak? Or afraid it might? In this post we solve the dry-mouth issue, and identify the best drinks to keep your voice flowing smoothly.

No sweat

Sweating can be an unpleasant presentation issue, and one we become acutely aware of.  Basic preventative measures help mitigate the problem.

Cold hands

Colds hands are a standard stress response. Find out why this is, and how something as simple as holding a warm cup can be an instant cure.

I think, therefore I am

How to control the messages we give ourselves before a presentation, to ensure we remain calm and in control during the presentation.

Puncturing perfectionism

Preparation is essential for presenting, but when we topple over into perfectionism, we create an impossible mountain to climb. This post discusses how to reduce those mountains back into molehills.

Taking the plunge

The first plunge can be the toughest. The more often you take it though, the easier it becomes. Repetition is the most sure-fire way to becoming a confident presenter.

Coaching yourself after a presentation

What happens after the presentation? How we coach ourselves once the event is finished will set up our confidence for next time. Find out how to be your own personal coach after every presentation.

Fear of public speaking is perfectly natural, and you are not alone in experiencing it. Indeed, some surveys have shown that for many people it isn’t just a fear, but their number one fear, and that’s why becoming a confident and competent public speaker is such a wonderful goal. If you can achieve this goal, then what other goals also become so much more achievable.

I believe public speaking is therefore a gateway activity. Once we prove to ourselves that we can successfully speak in public, we are empowered onwards to achieve so much more.

Enjoy all the articles linked from this blog, and if there are any areas of presentation nerves not dealt with here, that you might like help with, then please do post a comment.

It will be my pleasure to forward you the extra ideas that might help you forward into the highly rewarding world of presenting.

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