Nervous About a Big Meeting? Journaling Can Help
Big meeting coming up? Can’t stop having dreams (or nightmares) about it? If you can see your event room wallpaper in your sleep — down to the off-centered flower designs where the seams meet — you’re probably more than a little anxious.
First thing’s first: take a deep breath. Relax. Center yourself. Now, breathe out, and be calmed by the fact that you are in the right place. That’s right: we’re here to help you help yourself.
How? Simple. Start keeping a journal.
Now, you might be thinking: journaling? Really? That thing I used to do when I was thirteen and stuck in (adolescent) love? But we’re here to tell you that if you’re suffering from intense pre-presentation anxiety, or you can’t stop obsessing over an event you’re planning, you are exactly the person who needs to start journaling.
Why is journaling the key to presentation confidence?
People have been journaling about anxiety for centuries. There are countless logs from some of our greatest leaders documenting their apprehension for big events. Why did they journal about their presentations — and why should you?
Simply put, journaling is a wonderful anxiety reduction technique. When you’re experiencing anxiety, you’re dealing with intense, racing thoughts. They come one after the other, nonstop, to the point where anything seems impossible. You can’t sleep, do the dishes, or even prepare for that presentation you really need to practice for!
Here’s the secret: journaling acts as the externalization of anxiety. By writing your thoughts down, you’re pulling them out of your head and putting them into a real, concrete place. Why does this help?
Before we can answer that, we need to do a quick Psychology 101 crash-course. Here goes: when your thoughts are locked in your head, your brain starts to get confused. Your fight, flight or freeze response — those animalistic instincts that exist within all of us — activates because it senses a threat (the presentation). And when you sense a threat, things start happening: your heart starts racing, your mind starts thinking of escape plans, and your body starts sweating in preparation to run, fight, or stand your ground.
Under normal circumstances, this is good. If you’re being chased by a predator, chances are you want your heart pumping extra blood into your body. But a presentation is not a predator. Say it with us: a presentation isn’t a life-ending threat! Despite that, when your thoughts are in your head, it feels like a life-ending threat, because you can’t get your hands around it. You can’t physically point to the upcoming presentation and say, “this is not threatening,” so your body goes into fight, flight or freeze mode anyway.
How do you solve for this? The best way to help your body realize that your presentation isn’t a threat is by journaling. By putting your worries down, your brain will see them as a separate, physical entity. Instead of an unknown, un-addressable danger, your presentation anxiety will be an entry in your computer. A log of harmless words.
Unfortunately, we know that writing out your worries doesn’t always stop them entirely. So, if you’ve tried journaling already and you need some extra help, check out this additional tactic you can use when those presentation blues have got you down.
Journaling… with another person?
That’s right! Instead of simply journaling, have you tried journaling with a certified responder — someone trained to read what you write and provide quality responses? Through our journaling service, The Journal That Talks Back, you get paired with a professional responder specifically trained in things like event-anxiety-reduction.
A responder will read your journal entries, think on them, and reply with questions, thoughts and ideas about how to reframe your anxiety. If you’ve got an intense fear of public speaking, certified responders are the exact people you want in your corner: these individuals are trained to help navigate major life stressors, including speaking events.
How does this work, exactly? Let’s say you’ve got a presentation next Monday. You’re stressed. You sign up with our journaling service and, after getting paired with a qualified responder who matches your specific needs, you write an entry. Upon reading your entry, your responder notes any problematic thinking patterns that are plaguing you, and then helps you navigate those patterns with thoughtful questions and meaningful answers. They help you move toward a confidence mindset — allowing you to feel like you can take on not just your presentation, but the world.
Armed with the confidence a certified responder provides, you walk into your presentation feeling refreshed, ready and prepared. You’re not worried about failing, because you’ve already worked through those feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. You give the presentation and absolutely crush it. Everyone afterward tells you how amazing you were. Your boss is especially impressed. They like your attitude — how did you become such a public speaking expert, they ask?
It sounds like a fantasy. But it’s not. If you’re curious about how you can turn presentation nightmares into confident dreams about every single meeting room you walk into, check out The Journal That Talks Back and let us know what you think.