Meditation and its incredible ability to calm your nerves

Do you get really nervous before a presentation? Have you tried mediation before your public speaking event? 

Do you get physical symptoms like an increased heart rate, butterflies in your stomach, racing thoughts, a surge of adrenalin, sweaty palms, or a red face? 

For me, in the past, I never really used to focus on my mindset when it came to presenting. I focussed a lot on my technique and I had the incorrect assumption that as long as I felt good about what I was presenting, that the rest would fall into place. That it was my lack of skills that was making me feel nervous and once I sorted that out, I would be free from the fear.

But that only got me so far. I wasn’t able to fully contain my nerves until I focussed on my mindset and meditation was one of the things I incorporated. 

For someone like me, that has always felt a little awkward and the littlest thing could make me feel nervous, meditation has been an incredible savior! If you suffer from the pre-talk jitters, meditation is definitely something you need to try.

The 5 reasons why you need to start meditating

Not sure if meditation is for you? Here are 5 reasons why you need to regularly meditate:

  • Helps you destress
  • Improves your mood
  • Helps your memory
  • Calms you down
  • Helps you control your thoughts

Whilst all of these are helpful for public speaking, the last one is probably the most interesting and important item on the list. 

Meditation is a bit like going to the gym for your mind. You need to go regularly so that when the big day arrives, your muscle (your mind) is strong and can cope with it.  

The different types of meditation

You know I never knew much about meditation. I just thought that there was one type of meditation – just sitting there cross-legged and focussing on your breath. I had no idea that there were so many other types of meditation. 

That you could be walking your dog, listening to an audio recording of yourself saying positive things and that would be classed as meditating – it is all about being mindful and present. 

What I learnt was that meditation is all about focussing your mind. So if you’re focussing on something, then you’re meditating! 

I personally like guided meditations where someone is talking. However, you have to pick a person and a voice you like listening to! 

If you are meditating at home or work or somewhere that’s a bit busy and a lot going on, try and channel calm vibes. I sometimes imagine I’m back on holidays in Paros Greece, sitting by the pool, with the sun shining on the water and people laughing and having fun around me. It transports me to another place and I honestly FEEL like I’ve been holidays when I’m finished!! 

“Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight.” – Ajahn Brahm

Now an important thing to note is that if you decide want to meditate as a way to calm your public speaking nerves, it’s better to do it for 1 min every day as a regular habit, than for 30mins just on the day of a big talk. 

It’s a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix.

Here are 3 things to help make meditation a daily habit

1. Find what suits you 

Try different styles out. See if you like guided meditations or if you just want to do it on your own with no-one talking and no music. 

2. Don’t overcommit

Even 30 secs can make a real difference. I find if I don’t overcommit, once I’m started I’ll inevitably do it for longer anyway, but at least I always get it done. It helps to not feel like a failure and it keeps me motivated to continue if I can see that I’m able to achieve it every day.

3. Habit stack

Where you add a NEW habit onto an existing habit. That is, you do it before, during, or after a habit you already do every day. e.g. Brushing your teeth. The idea is that you want to create a trigger for it that you always do, religiously every day. If you want to take it one step further, you can even schedule it into your day, like a meeting. 

Final thoughts

Need to calm your nerves ahead of upcoming presentation/event/conference? If you haven’t already tried it, I’d highly recommend you give meditation a go.

It’s a highly under-rated technique that actually works to greatly reduce any type of nerves, it doesn’t cost anything and it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it! 

Try it in 2021 – add it as a goal and see if it helps with your public speaking nerves!


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Emily Edgeley | PUBLIC SPEAKING COACH | www.emilyedgeley.com