how to calm your nerves before a big meeting
Our nervous system responds to how we breathe, likewise our heart rate and blood pressure is directly correlated to certain breathing patterns. Public speaking is listed as one of the top phobias amongst people. Whether on Zoom or in person, presenting in front of peers/colleagues can induce extreme levels of emotional and physical stress.. We all know that feeling– elevated heart rate, dry mouth, sweaty palms, it's almost an out of body experience. So how do we calm ourselves down? How can we ease our nerves while still delivering information in an impactful way? We can start with a double inhalation through the nose and a large sighing exhale out of the mouth. This is known as the one of the quickest reset breaths available, and for those with small children we see them do this breath regularly but often they double (sometimes triple) inhale with the mouth and exhale exclusively with the mouth as well. This breath known as the Physiological Sigh was brought to popularity by Andrew Huberman, a neurobiologist from Stanford University.. This is the best breathing method to settle nerves in a short amount of time or a one breath reset.
If you only have a minute or two before the meeting then I would recommend 6 slow inhales and exhales through the nose with your eyes closed or off of screens. Ideally put your eyes and line of vision in a panoramic view. Six slow nasal breaths is sufficient to lower heart rate and blood pressure. It's something that I use before presenting and will often have the whole room do with me to help myself and others relax. Take your time with these and you will feel a reset within the first few breaths. This is my go to breathing exercise when I lead clients, everyone benefits from the simplicity which makes it perfect before a big presentation.
Finally, if you have 3-5 minutes to really settle down before the meeting try a 5 second inhale and 5 second exhale (all nasal). This is in line with our bodies natural rhythm and will help calm the nervous system while lowering heart rate and blood pressure. This cadence is the one I recommend most often whether you're a CEO or professional athlete, I recommend to everyone adding this to their morning and evening routines. It can help boost cognitive function and lift brain fog and also functions as a great way to down-regulate before a stressful moment. If you find that 5/5 doesn't hit the spot then play around with the numbers. For example, some people prefer an inhale of 4 and exhale of 6 seconds - they both serve the same purpose and get the participant to 6 breaths per minute which is ideal. If you notice that you feel high levels of anxiety and stress and no longer have control of your breathing I'd recommend looking into adding 5-10 minutes daily of slow nasal breathing or look into attending a restorative yoga or meditation class. Another option is to connect with a breathing coach who can help create better breathing habits while improving sleep, performance, and energy.
Connect with me at avigreenberg.com to set up your first breath consultation!