April 25, 2008

Visualization is for the body as well as the mind

Visualization is a valuable tool for preparing to speak. By visualizing yourself in the venue, giving 100%, speaking to an appreciative audience, and running through your complete presentation successfully, you ready yourself mentally for the event.

Visualization creates a positive mental framework for your performance, and by using visualization and positive affirmations together, you reframe the way your mind anticipates the event.

However, what you may not realize is that you can also reframe the way your body anticipates the event. Visualizing the speaking situation can actually change the way your body responds to nervousness, taking you from adrenaline-fueled shakiness to relaxed stillness.

The trick to changing your body's reaction to anxiety is to imagine physical sensations during your visualization.

Don't just see the room and the audience; feel the sensations in your body as well.

Visualizing yourself on the stage might make you feel that adrenaline rush, so while you're visualizing, take control of the feelings in your body and imagine yourself relaxing and breathing -- the same way you imagine yourself giving the presentation. Or imagine yourself taking that adrenaline rush and turning it into energy and excitement. Or both: it's your choice!

As I pointed out in my article about the power of the mind, each of us has the power to control our anxiety, just as each of us has created that anxiety in our minds. Well, we have the power to control how our body reacts to anxiety as well.

Athletes are known to visualize themselves performing precise actions in order to imprint their nervous system and muscle memory with proper technique. For elite athletes, mental training is as important as physical training.

The important thing to remember about visualization is that it requires focus. You have to be in the moment, in your mind, seeing and feeling the room, the audience, the stage, your words, and your body -- using all of your senses as though you were really there. It's a powerful technique that can have a profound impact on your success as a speaker.

Try it the next time you're getting ready for a presentation and see if you don't feel more physically as well as mentally prepared.

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1 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

You're right again Lisa: one of the absolute best ways to get over the fear of public speaking is visualization.

I always suggest that as the days and weeks lead up to your presentation, that you should practice creative visualization. Fear stems from the unconscious repetitive thoughts and feelings about failing. The key to successful visualizations is simultaneously feeling positive emotions attached to images that you see. Imagine the room in which you will present. Feel the empowering sense that this could be your break-through moment. This could be when you reach to a higher level than you ever thought possible. Imagine yourself now in front of the audience facing them, looking calmly and intently into their faces. Take a big breath and feel relaxation welling-up within you. Imagine giving the EXACT kind of presentation you want – however that looks, sounds and feels to you. When you are done imagining yourself delivering your presentation, hear in your mind’s ear the enthusiastic applause of your audience. See faces that are pleased, moved and touched by what you’ve done. See others seeking you out, shaking your hand, congratulating you on your performance. For as long as possible, keep experiencing that feeling of triumphal success. Repeat this process as many times as possible.

Not only is this good for public speaking, but is quite therapeutic as well.

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