How many of you feel anxious when seconds away from presenting in front of a board meeting? Or perhaps, when asking that girl you always see at the coffee shop out on a date? I personally find pitching in front of investors a moment where I lose half by body weight in sweat (awkward shaking hands...). It’s Wednesday. I’m sure that in between now and Friday you will have to stand up in front of someone and present. I came across a paper claiming that feeling anxious right before or during any performance task, such as public speaking, will drain working memory, decrease self-confidence, and overall harm performance. Looking at my own personal experiences, I can say I agree. So what am I supposed to do? According to this paper, “Keep Calm and Carry On” is not the best approach as I always believed. Instead, the paper suggests that it's best to channel that anxiety into excitement, which will increase my self confidence and help me adopt an “opportunity mindset (as opposed to a thread mindset)”, and improve my future performances. Did someone say #winning?
How and why? Excitement and anxiety, although having adverse effects on performance, actually have the same physiological effects on you. They both are felt before a performance and both are classified as highly arousing. Therefore, switching your mindset from “I’m so stressed out right now!” to “I’m so excited!” is easier than switching to “I’m very calm right now” which is an emotion of low arousal. Deliberate attempts to fake your emotional displays can be physically and psychologically costly. Since you wouldn’t have to fake any emotional displays when switching from anxious to excited, all it would take is telling yourself (it’s okay to talk to yourself just don’t let that girl from the coffee shop see you) that you actually are excited. In addition, it can help to have those around you tell you that you are excited. All right, have at it! Comment below and tell us if it worked for you!