In an interview with Rolling Stone Adele admitted that she suffers so much from nerves that she actually gets physically sick before nearly every concert “One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit,”
So how does she go on? How does she perform on stage night after night? The answer is simple; she has learned to manage her nerves! – “I try to bust jokes…my nerves don’t really settle until I’m offstage”
Overcoming the physical symptoms of performance nerves can be very difficult but the good news is, it can be controlled both by managing your expectations and by using your nervous energy to your advantage
In fact, here at ConfidentSpeak, if a client says that they never experience presentation nerves we tend to worry! Being over-confident can often translate to a boring, uninspiring and disconnected presenter.
5 Reason Why Nerves Are Key To A Good Performance
1. Nerves Means This Is Important To You
Very often people perceive nerves as a weakness, But what if we think about this differently? Lets flip this on its head and think about nerves in a completely the opposite way?
What if nerves are not a weakness, but a sign that what you are doing is important to you.
Think about the last job interview or presentation you had. If you were nervous, you also probably had a clear focus, a drive to succeed and a clear intention. That counts for a lot.
2. Nerves Mean You Will Strive To Be The Best You Can Be
Nerves mean the stakes are high and you don’t want to screw it up.
Being nervous will remove complacency. If the stakes are high you will prepare with more focus, you will rehearse more, you will put in the graft, you will give your all to the preparation.
What happens then? You will reap the rewards!
A healthy dose of nerves will keep you on your toes, keep you focused and ultimately lead to a better presentation.
3. Nerves Can Help You Realise Your True Potential
When we try new things, when we make changes, we will always experience nerves – but if we don’t try new things, we will never know what we’re really capable of in life.
Here’s the thing. People who do the same thing every day, who are afraid to try new things probably do not suffer from nerves. They don’t experience nerves because they never actually challenge themselves
Feeling nervous is a sign that we’re actually living life to the fullest and that has to be worth something!
4. It’s Not Nerves, It’s Excitement!
Would you believe anxiety and excitement are not that dissimilar on a physiological level? It’s true!
The heart pounds faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action in both cases. Our brain can very quickly switch between both.
Harvard Business School psychologist Alison Wood Brooks has researched what is known as “anxiety reappraisal”
“If we’re nervous about performing but choose to consciously re-frame nerves as excitement instead of anxiety or fear” she says “our performance can be improved”
Excitement suggests there is something to look forward to, whereas anxiety suggests it’s something to be feared.
So if we start putting a positive association with those physical feelings (heart pounding, palms sweating), we will no longer fear our presentation, but will present better as a result.
Instead of attempting to calm down our nerves we should be harnessing them. It takes practice but it’s certainly an interesting challenge to explore.
5. Nerves Enhance Your Performance
Alison Woods set participants in her study a series of tasks which would make most people nervous. The participants were then told to either say “I am anxious,” “I am excited,” or nothing before they completed the task The “excited” participants not only felt more excited, and they also performed better
With nerves, the adrenaline gives you a boost of energy. Actors use the adrenaline rush to take their performances to a higher level. This can be seen in their physical and vocal delivery – presenters can also harness this.
The day I lose my stage-fright is the day I will stop acting.
Sir Laurence Olivier
Conclusion: Embrace the Butterflies!
There is nothing wrong with having butterflies in your stomach, provided you make them fly in formation
Nerves certainly mean an element of discomfort but if we are able to keep ourselves from turning our focus in on ourselves, then nervousness can be a helpful tool.
Focusing on your surroundings and your audience during a presentation, rather than on the thoughts inside you, is the key.
And the final word goes to the Lady herself
ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.