Hello and welcome to the Good Talent Podcast. It’s wonderful to have your company. My name’s Tony Nicholls, the CEO of good talent media, and we’re a team of ex-journos and we aim to get your message across in the media. Today’s topic is really important. It’s all about nerves: your nervous system. How do you manage your nerves in the lead up to these big moments, these big interview moments or these big presentations that you have to give?

[00:00:41] Nerves are a really funny one because it doesn’t necessarily relate to your nerves for the moment that’s in front of you. It often relates to the health of your nervous system. If you are run down, if you are working enormous hours, if you are burning the candle of both ends and you’re generally not in great shape, you’re likely to be quite nervous than the leader to a big presentation or a media moment.

[00:01:03] Now I spent a lot of my working life as a journalist and a live cross reporter. You’re on end nonstop every half hour, every hour. So you would think that people sitting in that part of their career are never nervous: they’re just cruising all the time. But I did notice in myself, if I was worn out at the end of a 10 day shift, if, when my kids were little and you weren’t sleeping that well, the more generally worn down you were, the more potential you’d be getting nervous in the lead up to moments that weren’t necessarily that big for you.

[00:01:33] So I think tip number one in managing your nerves is just to get on top of your general relaxtion. You’ve got a big event coming up and your body’s getting nervous about it already, and you’re not sleeping that well, and you’re always thinking about it. So I think that’s the time for you to start having shorter days at work, if you can. Making sure that you rest on the weekend, making sure that you’re eating well and getting some exercise. Try most certainly to be in the moment with your family and friends. If you’ve got a meditation practice or a yoga practice, get into it.

[00:02:04] So what I’m talking about now is mindfulness and looking after yourself. Yes, you are nervous about this big event coming up in a couple of weeks or seven days time. But now is the time to start looking after yourself holistically. So you can be in better shape for that big moment, cuz if you keep doing the 80 hour week and if you keep the same momentum up in your normal social and personal life and working life, you’re not gonna be in great shape to handle an event that you’re nervous about already. So just think about yourself holistically: how you can relax and be in better shape for this big moment. So here we are now, and you’ve got the interview, which is minutes away or hours away, or the presentation, which is on your doorstep. So you get up that morning and you are nervous, right? Your body’s on.

[00:02:47] Now, I want you to start thinking about these nerves as a good thing. So being nervous is your ally, is the adrenaline that you need, that your body needs to get through this big moment. Because let’s face it: you can’t nail a media interview or a huge presentation, if you are laissez-faire, sleepy, if you’re in some sort of yogic sleep. right? It’s not gonna work. Your body’s not charged up ready for this huge moment. You need to be switched on. You need to be ready to go and your brain needs to be synaptic and the ideas need to be dropping quickly onto your tongue, right? Because that’s what’s required in this moment. So you can’t be all sleepy about it. That’s why you’re nervous. So your body’s actually getting you ready so you can perform really well.

[00:03:30] There’s an association technique I want you to use: I am trembling. I am shallow breathing. I am extremely nervous. And you can start saying to yourself right now. Well, this is good: my body’s getting ready. Thank you so much for this. My body’s getting ready for this big moment. You do need to be in a bit of a heightened state to perform really well. There you go. Hopefully you’ve relaxed in the lead up to this moment. You’ve slowed down your regular schedule, but you’ll still have your body pumping and beating and telling you that there’s something important coming up. So get cool with those sensations.

[00:04:01] Now I want you to have in your mind that you can’t stop these sensations. This is a big problem, at least to panic attacks. If you think to yourself, okay, I’ve got a big interview coming up or a big presentation coming up and I’m not gonna feel nervous. If you make that your goal, you are in for big trouble. Because you will feel nervous. It’s natural for you to feel nervous. Now I was just at a company function the last few days, and Andrew Westacott was there: the CEO of the Grand Prix corporation. It was great to see him and thank him for some tickets that he flicked me to the Grand Prix some years ago.

[00:04:30] Now he’s one of the best media performers in the country, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get nervous. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t make mistakes. That doesn’t mean that he’s not full of adrenaline when these media moments come up. Of course he is. He needs to be like that to perform well.

[00:04:44] So you should not have it as a goal that when I get to this big moment, I will not be feeling any fear. I will not be nervous, because that’s a false goal. And if you have that as a goal and you start feeling fear and nerves, and you don’t associate those being good, you’re gonna start freaking out.

[00:05:02] So, very important note here, accept that your heart will be beating faster. You might be sweating a little bit. You’re not breathing normally. This is okay: you have to accept that you’re having these sensations and they’re not going away. Because if you resist these sensations, you’re gonna start freaking out more and more and more.

[00:05:21] The goal is not to be nervous before a presentation or an interview; that is not the goal. The goal is for you to show up and give it your best shot; do really well. Listen to some other podcasts and we’ll tell you how to set goals, target an audience, and create messaging. Your goal is not to be nervous. Your goal is to get on there and play your part and do the best you can. You will be nervous. You have to accept that; that’s important.

[00:05:43] Now, on the morning of: when you wake up and you do feel these nerves—and hopefully you’re associating them as a good thing now; you can see the positive message in them—I want you to be breathing in and out of your nose. Now it’s a yogic breath; it’s a mindfulness breath. The nose inhalation is a long breath; it’s a long cooling and soothing breath, and I want you to put that breath right into your tummy. And feel your tummy expand when you get to the bottom of that big nose inhalation. You can do that now, if you like. So you put your hand on your tummy and you breathe in through the nose, feel your tummy expand, and then breathe out again through the nose.

[00:06:21] Now give yourself 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 of those deep through the nose, deep out through the nose. This starts relaxing the body. The mouth breath is a shallow breath and it goes into the chest and it’s more the runner’s breath. We’re running away from a line breath: we don’t want that. We wanna start relaxing your body deep in through the nose, deep out through the nose. That’s very important.

[00:06:43] Here we are, you’re on your big day now, and you’re starting to think now of this moment and you’re okay with being a little bit nervous. The nasal breath is relaxing you. Now I want you to start forgetting that it’s about you, cuz it really isn’t about you. That’s another big problem with nerves, debilitating nerves, going into a presentation or a media moment.

[00:07:03] If you are thinking it’s all about you. It’s too egoic. It’s too self-centered and individualistic. And of course that’ll create contraction and make things even worse for you. Start expanding your consciousness out and remind yourself. It’s not about you. In fact, it’s about the audience. So if you’re giving a presentation, you should be there to help the audience.

[00:07:22] That’s why you’re there. You’ve only been asked up on stage for you to add value to the audience. So get it into your mind, this is not about you at all; this is about you helping those in the audience. How can you help them? So, for example, when I’m presenting, it’s very difficult to be nervous cause I’m totally obsessed with helping everyone in the room.

[00:07:40] That’s the only reason I’m there. It’s not financial, actually, it’s the time they’re spending that’s the most valuable thing. They are spending time with me. So, CEOs of different organizations around the country, they need to be getting huge value for that time. So it’s not about how I look. It’s not about my nerves and I can get nervous, absolutely. It’s nothing to do with me at all. It’s all about helping these CEOs get to the next level in how they’re presenting themselves in the media.

[00:08:05] So for you as a presenter now, or a media performer, how’re you there to help them. That’s your only focus. That takes the focus off you. So it’s okay that I look how I look and it’s okay that I’m nervous, but I’m here to add enormous value to this audience right now. So if it’s a five minute interview on Virginia Trioli, 774 ABC: great! How can you help the audience that morning? It’s not about you at all. Or if it’s a big keynote somewhere and you’re an ASX listed company and you’re speaking to your shareholders: great! How can you help that audience? It’s not about your at all. Cuz if it’s about you, you will be nervous, you will be contracted, you will be stiff and you’ll be reading a script. You’ll be boring everyone to death, and congratulations: That was all about you; it was a total waste of time.

[00:08:48] My last tip on nerves guys is that make it about your audience and focus on being of service to your audience. That’s a very relaxing feeling. You’re here to do the best you can for your audience today, and help them in any way you choose. So you help them find their life’s purpose, whatever your topic is, help add enormous value, help them grow their businesses, help them perform well on the media, wherever you sit in the economy.

[00:09:13] So just to wrap that up, just remember that nerves is not necessarily about the event that you’re about to participate in. So your mind associates: ‘Oh dear, media interview’s coming up. I’m so nervous.’ Well, it’s not really like that. I recall I went through a brief stage of being scared of flying. Now I had a panic attack in a plane, and it was actually trying to get in the media, actually. I was flying all over the country to these little country radio stations interviewing. And it was a lot of stress, like I’m working hard, I’m doing these interviews, I got a young family. So I was worn down, naturally enough. I broke down at some point and I associated that with flying.

[00:09:48] It wasn’t the case at all. I was just really worn out. So it’s not that you’re nervous necessarily about a presentation or an interview. You might just be really worn out right now. So first step in getting ready for this moment is to lower your routine: start relaxing, start looking after yourself, start eating well, start exercising.

[00:10:07] Just remember that nerves are very good for this performance that you’ve got coming up. You have to be thankful for them because they’re gonna get you to rise up to the next level and be a strong performer. So start associating nerves as being extremely positive. Remember the nose breath. Remember when you’re feeling anxious, don’t resist those sensations: start breathing deeply in through your nose, deep into your tummy and out through your nose. Get 10 breaths in. Repeat, repeat, repeat. You want a lot of deep nasal breathing. It’s a very relaxing breath; It’s a yogic breath.

[00:10:39] And just finally, now you are here, and you’re okay with the sensations in your body, and you’re relaxing yourself through your nose. Just do your best. No one knows what you’ve pre-prepared; no one knows your script. Do your best to serve whoever you’re presenting to. Do your best to communicate to this niche audience that you can help in some way, and be of service to them, and add huge value. That’s a wonderful way of not focusing on yourself, but focusing on your audience.

[00:11:04] So there you have it, guys. Everyone gets nervous. Everyone needs to use these nerves ideally to perform really well. They’re there to serve you. Thank you, and good luck with your next interview.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


Your contact details are safe with us!


Your contact details are safe with us!

Get in touch

Get in touch