How to Overcome Nerves and Perform at Your Best, WHEN IT COUNTS!

  • News > 
  • How to Overcome Nerves and Perform at Your Best, WHEN IT COUNTS!

How to Overcome Nerves and Perform at Your Best, WHEN IT COUNTS!
Friday May 6th 2016

It’s a typical day at work. Our calendar bulges with meetings, con-calls, presentations and conversations. We’re productive, optimistic, relaxed, confident, and in control. All is flowing in success mode. We’re a seasoned professional, and yet…
Why is it, that on the morning of an important event, whether it’s presenting at a conference, having that ‘difficult’ conversation, or interviewing for a career-launching job, we have the potential to wake up to a nauseating, anxious sensation and a devilish inner voice- One that whispers dark thoughts about possibilities of failure and impending doom!

“Why do I do this to myself?” we ask. The answer is, that nothing is more effective at awakening our negative sleeping giant than a ‘high stakes’ event on the calendar.

Once on alert, this little monster redirects our usual confidence, towards our insecurities, fears, and hypothetical ‘what-ifs’. If left to run around, it knocks us off kilter emotionally and physiologically and just when we want to function at our best, it has the potential to cause less effective thinking and a subdued performance. The good news is though, that this bothersome beast can be tamed!

Follow these 5 steps, to overcome this annoying syndrome and perform at your best when it counts.

Step 1: Engage your ‘Avatar’
At next opportunity, before an important event, invite your wise, inner-self to hover on your shoulder to observe and listen. Try to identify the specific characteristics of your negative inner voice. Is it expressing doubtful self-worth, lack of trust in your ability, or the common fear of failure? The more distinctly you can hear it, the easier it will be to clear it.

Step 2: Envision the Ideal
Take a quiet moment, to picture yourself in the upcoming situation, performing at your optimum. Use your imagination to visualise it and experience it with all 6 senses, as if you were sitting in a movie theatre watching the best version of yourself performing. If you can conceive it, you can make it real. What we ‘think about’ with vivid detail and passionate intention tends to function as a catalyst for our real life experience, so this is a powerful and effective step to take!

Step 3: Flick the Switch
This is where real magic happens. Just as you would turn a light on or off, you’re going to do the same with your inner voice. Make the choice to switch the fearful, worrisome thoughts, to ones that are positive, energised and eager. As much in advance as possible, and as often during the day as you can manage, hold this enthusiastic dialogue in your head- Literally ‘get excited’ about the upcoming event. Faking it till you make it counts! And it works. Research in neuroscience demonstrates that new neural pathways can be created through repetitive thinking on the same topic- then the old,
disregarded, thought patterns eventually shrivel up and fade away.

Step 4: Leverage the Excitement
Harness this new storehouse of positive energy to formulate an awesome outcome. Try using a 3-part strategy, “Plan, Prepare and Perform”. In each of these phases you’ll have the opportunity to leverage your ‘excitement’ differently, taking the focus off yourself and using it instead to project manage the upcoming performance.

PLAN: Concentrate your verve on being practical and strategic. What needs to be done, who needs to be involved, what needs to happen?

PREPARE: Now place your attention on more empathic issues. Consider your message, your audience’s needs, and your key objective. How can you create a win for all? What are the driving emotions to address?

PERFORM: Finally, shift into pure passion and enthusiasm for communicating what you’ve so well prepared. With this mindset, your adrenalin rush will have an empowering effect on the nervous system, supporting clear thinking and a peak performance.

Step 5: Bask in the Glow of Success!
And now, enjoy the exhilaration of having overcome the debilitating potentiality of nerves. Instead, you’ve produced a great performance when it counted. Why stop here? You’ve mastered morphing jitters and self-doubt into ‘excitement’, so imagine, trying a similar approach in different parts of your life. Use the same framework to transform THOSE negative, self-limiting thoughts into positive experiences as well. Power on!

Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself, and is an internationally renowned integrative success coach. Born in the US and settled in Sydney, she works as a corporate trainer, executive coach, speaker, author, and counsellor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world.

For more information visit or contact: