How and Why to Have a Presentation Ritual

Read Time: 3:30 Minutes

In today's blog post I want to share with you my perspective on how you can build a presentation ritual which will remove the fear of speaking at its root and put you in a state of mind which fuels peak performance as a presenter. 

The Power of Habit

The way I see it, the power of habit for us as people who present on a regular basis is that it enables us to put ourselves in the mood we want consistently. After all, isn't that why we have most of the habits which we do? 

We eat habitually because it gives us comfort and reminds us of the comfort of home. 

We exercise habitually because we like the endorphin rush and we like the emotions of achievement it gives us. 

We smoke because it gives us a moment to breathe deeply and let go of stress. 

The model of building habits which I like to use is one which I picked up from the book 

Here is a three step model of how habits are built which I learned in the book "The Power of Habit" 

Trigger, routine , reward.

  • Trigger - The stimulus that lets your brain know to go into autopilot
  • Routine - The pattern you run automatically
  • Rewrd - After the routine is completed this is what strengthens it as the correct routine

As nutty as it seems, I treat my presentation ritual as one big habit. From 6 hours before the presentation to 6 hours afterward. Taking this attitude toward presentation success as a product of ritual and habit has made speaking something which I look forward to, this routine can do the same for you.

My Ritual

Before diving into the nuts and bolts of the ritual that I have built around my presentations it's important that you know why it works. The way I see it, the root cause of the presentation anxiety which destroys most speakers ability to be engaging is that we have an innate fear of rejection and we have learned that speaking equals rejection. Here is a post I wrote about why we get anxious about presenting. This entire routine is built around the core notions that:

1. We present in a more captivating way when we are less stressed

2. A presentation ritual that tackles the inner dialogue and rejection issues which cause stress around presenting helps us present in a more engaging way. 

Now, here is my ritual: 

  • 6 hours out - no stimulants, if anything, a soothing substance like 5-HTP or chamomile tea The reason is that coffee reduces your emotional intelligence. 
  • 1 hour out - sneak in a 10 minute meditation in some quiet space
  • 30 minutes out - laugh and talk loudly. No matter what it takes. Laughter and loud talking are both great ways to soothe stress because they both signal safety to the brain. 
  • 10 minutes out - find a quiet place to visualize knocking it out of the park (more on that in a later post) 
  • As I walk up to speak - I press my confidence button. This is a certain gesture which I have conditioned myself to associate with confidence. It is known as anchoring and you can read more about it here.
  • Immediately after speaking - I reward myself with something simple. Like cake. 
  • ASAP after speaking - get on the phone with someone I love and have a great conversation. This acts as another reward and also soothes the primitive part of the brain which fears rejection and ostracism. 

Now What? 

If there is one big takeaway from this post it is that your ability to present well is contingent on your ability to get yourself in a great state of mind and overcome presentation anxiety. 

Try this ritual out for yourself, and let me know below how it worked for you. 

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