How to stop a pounding heart when presenting

Does this sound like you? You know your job well, you can communicate clearly in many situations, you lead a successful team BUT sometimes when it comes to presenting in high-pressure situations you can lose all sense of control? Sometimes your presentations are fine but other times your heart just pounds so much you feel like it may jump out your chest (and you may suffer from some other public speaking speech anxiety symptoms too).

This increased heart rate can kick off the ‘downward spiral’ where one thing leads to another and the situation goes into free fall. You feel your heart rate increase, you begin to worry about coming across as anxious, and then you look worried and actually do come across as nervous – a self-fulfilling prophecy! I’ve worked with clients who have even pretended to get cut off of their own conference call because they felt so out of control.

So how can you prevent your racing heart from sabotaging your business presentations? In the short term, you can control your breathing and use calming techniques (see my Tips for overcoming nerves) and some people even resort to Beta Blockers to slow their heart down (which I don’t recommend for the reasons in my blog on “Why drugs aren’t the answer!“). The best solution is to uncover the cause of the pounding heart in the first place and sort that out (rather than finding just short term coping mechanisms). This long term approach is known similar to identifying and treating the root cause and we call the process “Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys”.

You may not feel like your public speaking nerves are typical – after all you might present all the time and be OK most of the time … but even so, something is making your heart pound and it is likely to be some sort of anxiety or stress. We call those unconscious voices of doubt and feelings “Public Speaking Monkeys”. Don’t believe those people who say “this is something you need to learn to live with”. We believe you can learn to Tame and Train your pesky monkeys!



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Dee Clayton

Posted by Dee Clayton on 6 Sep 2017

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