Anxiety or Excitement – that is the question
The planning and preparation is complete. The time of your talk is moving ever closer. You notice you are getting a little jittery, tense, nervous?
You may think these emotions indicate worry or anxiety, because you are speaking at a new unfamiliar event, along with other people you may or may not know. Maybe you are the keynote speaker of a huge event, and you have no idea who may be in the audience.
But could it be excitement? Getting a bit jittery, getting the flutters in the tummy or an upset stomach could just as well be associated with excitement especially when you are more likely to think positive about the event: a new audience, another great opportunity to share your message with the world, meeting new people, attracting more business, etc.
The thoughts that go along with the bodily sensations can indicate if you are anxious or excited.
Here is a tip:
When the event is nearing, become aware of these bodily sensations. Stop and check what goes through your mind. Are you worried about how you perform, are you anxious about the different environment, different people? Or are you simply excited to speak, to share your message, to meet new people?
If you have thoughts of anxiety or worry about the event, how about reframing or changing these thoughts into thoughts of excitement?
Here are a few examples:
I don’t know if the audience will like my talk.
I will bring a lot of value to the audience and they will enjoy my talk.
It is a fact that you can’t please every single person. It is simply not possible.
I hope I won’t mess up my talk.
Even the famous speakers mess up sometimes, I will be ok and keep the focus.
We all make mistakes. The key is not to lose focus.
What if I get stuck?
I have rehearsed my talk many times and I will do well.
Be ready to improvise if you lose your train of thought but keep the focus on your topic.
Take your time when you do this, maybe start by writing down the anxious thought on one side of a sheet of paper, then find the opposite positive thought and note that down.
To get the thoughts on paper is a good first step. Keep repeating the exercise, the more you write the positive thoughts down the easier they will start popping into your mind, you may even get more of them coming, note them down as well.
Eventually, your mind will automatically have the new thoughts popping up in your mind with the bodily sensations you experience.
Be ready and willing to experiment and be patient with yourself. The process of changing your thoughts may feel uncomfortable but that is normal because new neural connections have to be established in the brain. It’s the same process that happens when we are learning new skills.
Become comfortable with the uncomfortable and you will thrive.