Beating Back Butterflies – Part of “Presentation Nerves”

Lepidoptera Stomachus

Lepidoptera Stomachus

by Peter Watts

Lepidoptera Stomachus, or “Butterflies in the Tummy” can invest our stomachs with a fluttering, pulsing, almost electrical life of their own.

Frequent presenting is a great way to lose weight. The person scheduled to speak after lunch can be easily spotted – they’re the one not eating at the buffet as their blood sugars, essential for concentration, plummet down to their socks.

In a previous blog we discussed the importance of oxygen to the presenter. In this one, we’ll consider the role of calories.

During Fight or Flight our appetite is suppressed. After all, if you’re nose-to-nose with a predator, then now isn’t the time for a light snack; not unless you want to be the light snack! If you’ve been stressed about presenting for the past few hours (days?) then you haven’t been eating.

Our bodies and brains need calories to function. Even if we’d like to lose weight and are tempted to regard loss of interest in food as a good thing, not eating will sap energy, reduce concentration, and contribute to tension headaches and trembling limbs.

Eat within two hours of your presentation. You may not feel hungry, but you must maintain the body’s fuel supply. If it’s only 30 minutes till show-time then the emergency food of choice is the banana. Bananas, as any athlete will tell you, are power food. High in natural sugars, they quickly digest for an ideal pre-presentation snack.

Avoid the following:

  • Dairy products (They stimulate mucus and congest the voice)

  • Red meat (Hard to digest and energy sapping)

  • Citrus (Acidity when you’re stressed upsets the stomach)

  • Beans (You figure it out!)

While it would be a mistake to eat a heavy meal immediately before a presentation, it’s equally wrong to starve yourself. When stressed, your body’s natural hunger signals are shut-down. Maintaining calorie intake therefore becomes a rational process, consciously taking care of your physical need for sustenance.

“Have I eaten today?” If the answer is no, then ensure that you do. You’ll find that miraculously, you feel better prepared for the challenge ahead.

For more ideas on how to control presentation nerves, try the following Presenters’s Blog posts:


%d bloggers like this: