Visualizations can be powerful. Many star athletes and big time presenters use visualization before a big game or presentation to help them perform better. Can visualization replace the hard work, preparation, and practice? Not at all! But visualization is one extra tool you can use to enhance your performance, especially if it’s something anxiety producing. An important key element of visualizations: you want to engage all of your senses as your visualizing yourself in the situation. This is not just imagining a fantasy in your mind where you have the ability to fly 10 feet into the air. You are walking through the situation as if it is actually happening and you’re aim is to walk through the scenario without anxiety and with a calm, centered mind and body.
Here is an example of how to do a visualization if you have to give a presentation or speech that you are nervous about. First, close your eyes and take a few deep breathes to help center and calm your mind. Now visualize the actual setting where you will be giving the presentation (if you’re going somewhere new and don’t know what it will look like, visualize your best guess of what it would look like). Continue to breathe slowly and deeply, taking note of any anxiety that starts to creep up. See if you can fully engage your senses; smell what the room might smell like, notice the details of anything else that may be in the room, feel the temperature of the room. If any time you start to feel anxiety, pause the visualization and continue breathing until you feel the anxiety fade away, then continue. Visualize yourself walking up the podium/stage/front of the room, again, engaging the senses. Feel your feet walking, feel the temperature of the air, notice what else may be in the room, and most importantly, feel yourself feeling confident and prepared. Now visualize yourself getting to center stage and actually going through your speech/presentation in your mind. Again, if you start to feel anxiety, pause and breathe deeply until the anxiety fades away before continuing. Feel yourself feeling confident and comfortable. Finally, visualize yourself ending your presentation with a big smile and the sense that you nailed it. Sit with that moment as you continue to breathe deeply. Then open your eyes when you feel ready.
Now go and nail that presentation!