Rituals to Try Before Giving a Presentation

By Harvard Business Review
August 15, 2018

Hate public speaking? These ideas can help pump you up − or calm you down − before you go onstage.

Public speaking affects people in different ways. Some people get jittery and anxious before they talk; others want to make sure they have extra energy when they’re in front of an audience. No matter which category you belong to, pre-talk rituals can help you get comfortable before you walk onstage.

Below are four types of pre-talk rituals to consider trying:

Empathy rituals: Empathy rituals help you connect better to the people in your audience. A ritual that generates empathy can help you humanize the individuals in the crowd and make you less afraid of them. You can build empathy by working the room before your talk to connect with attendees — ask them questions, learn what they’re interested in. Another technique is to zero in on a friendly face that you know in the audience.

Exertion rituals: Exerting yourself before you speak gets your heart moving and boosts your energy level. It can also reduce the amount of anxiety you feel. There are lots of ways to execute an exertion ritual, from a brief workout to dancing to hip-hop music to jumping up and down.

Spiritual rituals: Spiritual rituals are moments of silence and stillness, such as prayer, meditation, contemplation and expressing gratitude for an opportunity. They can help quell jitters and make you feel grounded and positive.

Mantra-based rituals: Mantra-based rituals are ones that help you prepare by using repetition and self-talk for soothing. Try repeating your favorite mantra to yourself before you go onstage. For example, you might say, “I’m there to give, not receive” or “Just be present and be yourself.”

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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