Visualisation is the technique of using your mind to actually experience an event before you go out and give your speech. Like running a movie in your mind.
Even if it’s not a technique you’ve consciously done, if you get really nervous before public speaking, you’re probably practising visualisation without even really being aware of it.
But not in a good way. You’re no doubt visualising the worst case scenario…. and in fact almost guaranteeing that this is the scenario that will play out when you’re actually going to speak.
But why is it that visualising a scenario could actually make it more likely to play out in real life!!??
Why visualisation actually works
It all comes down to science!!
Neuroscientists have discovered two interesting facts about the brain, which is key to why visualisation actually works:
- Your brain thinks in pictures
- Your brain often cannot distinguish whether you are imagining something or experiencing it
If you imagine something over and over, your brain will go about creating new neural pathways. These essentially act as a map, which your brain then follows when you’re doing it.
It’s interesting to note that the brain creates the same neural pathways (map), whether you visualise it or you actually do it.
One really important thing to note however, is the strength of the neural pathways is directly proportional to how vivid your mental imagery is.
So, whatever it is that you’re imaging or visualising over and over, is way more likely to eventuate in real life. Which is why it’s so important to visualise what it is that you do want then.
Pro athletes have been using visualisation to help them achieve better results for a long time.
In fact, there are some really interesting results of studies that prove that when you visualise something happening, it not only helps to create a mental image, it also affects or physicality too.
What studies have proven
Here are some interesting results of studies that have been done into the benefits of visualisation in athletes:
- Volunteers in a study imagined flexing their biceps as hard as possible. After a few weeks of simply visualising weight training, the subjects showed a 13.5 per cent increase in strength!!
- Participants who visualised shooting for a month improved their shooting by 23 per cent.
- Long jumpers who visualised their jumps and went through the actual motion of the jump, performed better 45 per cent of the time.
It’s clear to see that actually visualising their performance not only helps with their mindset, but it helps them physically too.
How to actually visualise
Here are a few tips if you’d like to visualise before your next speaking event…
1.Do meditation first
Meditation will help you focus on the present. It will help calm you down and control your breathing and this is the state you want to be in so that you can picture your best outcome.
2. Make it full of detail
Visualise the moment. Make it real. Go into detail! e.g. in colour, with movement, including where you are, what you do, how you feel, how the audience reacts etc.
3. Think about how you’ll feel
Think about the emotions that will come up when you nail your talk. When you feel all of your hard work has truly paid off! Think about not only how you’ll feel giving the talk, but how you’ll feel in the lead up and how you’ll feel afterwards. How will you celebrate!? Will you be calm, in control, confident, relieved, etc?
4. Make it a habit in the lead up
Mentally rehearse it. Don’t just do this once. Make it a habit leading up to your next gig. The more you do this, the more you create those new neural pathways.
So, do like the pros try visualisation out before your next talk. It will help with your mindset and also the physical symptoms of nerves and will almost guarantee you get the outcome you’re looking for!!
Questions? Thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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Emily Edgeley | PUBLIC SPEAKING COACH | www.emilyedgeley.com