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Even Senior Leaders get the jitters

We all get anxious. Luckily, there are a few tricks to overcoming nerves, so you can perform at your best when it counts.

It’s a typical day at work. All is flowing in success mode.

You’re a seasoned professional. So why is it then, on the morning of an important event, whether it’s presenting at a conference, having a difficult conversation, or giving a media interview, you wake up to a nauseating anxiety and a devilish inner voice that whispers dark thoughts of impending doom?

The answer is, nothing is more effective in awakening our negative inner voice than a high stakes event on the calendar. Once on alert, that inner voice redirects our usual confidence toward our insecurities, fears and what-ifs. When left to run wild, it knocks us off kilter and just when we want to function at our best, it causes dulled thinking and potentially a subdued performance. But guess what: it can be tamed.

Here are 5 steps for overcoming this annoying syndrome.

  1. Engage your observer

    Before the next important event, invite your wise, inner self to hover on your shoulder to observe and listen. Try to identify the specific characteristics of your negative inner voice. Is it expressing doubtful self-worth, lack of trust in your ability, or a fear of failure? The more distinctly you can hear it, the easier it will be to clear it.

  2. Affirm the ideal

    Picture yourself performing at your optimum. Visualise and experience it as if you were sitting in a movie theatre watching the best version of yourself performing. What we think about with vivid detail and passionate intention tends to become the real-life experience. Some call this the power of positive affirmation.

  3. Trick your brain

    Just as you would turn a light on or off, do the same with your negative inner voice. Make the choice to switch the worrisome thoughts to ones that are positive, energised and eager. Hold this enthusiastic dialogue in your head as often as possible. Get excited, or rather, fake it ‘til you make it. Faking it works – new neural pathways will be created through repetitive optimistic thinking about the event, and old troublesome thoughts shrivel up and fade away.

  4. Leverage the excitement

    Harness this new storehouse of positive energy to formulate a desired outcome. Try using a three-part strategy: Plan, Prepare and Perform.


    Concentrate your verve on being practical and strategic. What needs to be done, who needs to be involved, what needs to happen?


    Focus less on you, and more on pleasing the audience. Consider your message, the audience’s needs, and your key objective. What are the driving emotions to address?


    Finally, shift into pure passion and enthusiasm for communicating what you’ve prepared. With this mindset, your adrenaline rush will have an empowering effect on the nervous system, supporting clear thinking and peak performance.

  5. Bask in the glow of success

    Enjoy the exhilaration of having overcome the debilitating potentiality of nerves. Instead, you’ve produced a great performance when it counted.

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