It's natural to be a bit nervous before a major speech, important presentation, or media interview. It isn't necessarily a bad thing; it can energize you. But if you're overwhelmed with a case of nerves that's another thing. You can lose focus on your messaging and not represent your business in its most positive light.
Here are some tips I give to clients during media training sessions. And if they work for media interviews, they can work for presentations and speeches as well.
- Get plenty of rest the night before.
- Eat light and stay hydrated. Studio lights are hot and if you are dehydrated or your blood sugar is too low you run a risk of fainting.
- Give yourself plenty of drive time. Rushing in at the last minute is a sure way to make yourself nervous.
- Leave a few extra minutes for some alone time--so you can do some deep breathing exercises (outside of prying eyes).
- Go over your main talking points one last time just before your interview. I recommend having them handy on your mobile phone or mobile device.
- Wear something professional-looking but also comfortable. If you are dressing to impress but your new shoes hurt your feet or your collar is too tight, you'll be distracted.
- If you tend to sweat, remember to bring blotting papers. Give you face a quick blot before the interview. An overly shiny face isn't a good TV look. Sweat stains obviously aren't good either so plan accordingly there too.
- Control your hands. Sometimes when a person is very nervous she'll do odd things with her hands. If this sounds like you, just cross your hands loosely throughout the interview.
- Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Nervous people who forget what they are trying to stay often shift their eyes upward. The answers aren't up there.
- Watch what you do with your lips. I have had clients who had nervous habits of pursing their lips and licking their lips. They didn't realize they did this. The first step toward breaking a bad habit is realizing you do it.
- Visualization is another way to control nerves. Instead of dwelling on the fact your interview may be seen by a large number of people, think of the interview as a one-on-one conversation with a friend, spouse or partner.
- Don't go in to an interview cold. Of course you'll have your talking points. But it is also important to know about the person interviewing you. Watch or read their interviews to learn their interview style.
- Give yourself a mini pep talk before your interview. This could be internal or outloud (if you are alone). It helps. Remember the journalist wants to hear what you have to say. He needs you. You are an expert in your field.
- Think of every media interview as an opportunity and not as a chore, waste of time, or the last thing on earth you want to do.
- You are making news. Make sure they remember you for your messaging and not any nervous habits.