Leadership and Management

How To Overcome Performance Anxiety, Shared by a Top Psychologist

Having anxiety before performing or presenting yourself in front of the crowd is totally normal. But sometimes, we have this fear of not knowing what to say once standing on stage. A lot of people say that you need to fake confidence until you make it but they never teach you exactly how it should be done. Do we just rewire our brains overnight? Or do we just have to face it head-on? They said fears could be overcome by facing them. While that is true, saying it is easier to say than done.

“The main skills are awareness, self-talk, and breathing,” according to the top performance psychologist Michael Gervais. He has elaborated on it below:


He said, “You’re not really in the game of becoming your very best without awareness.” An individual without awareness could never improve. He said that the highest-performing individuals, such as athletes and public speakers, should foster a sense of awareness. This has been shown in research in order to improve performance in daily tasks.

Building awareness requires hard work, and this is why not everyone has it. If one does not have self-awareness, it can be trained. In awareness training, it has three forms, which include mindfulness, journaling, and conversations with wise people. An activity that is as simple as walking could build awareness. Others are journaling, cooking and deep meditation, which could help in gaining inspiration.


Research says that people who engage in self-talk are geniuses. Why? It stimulates memory, helps you stay focused and clarifies thoughts. In this way, processing thoughts becomes a lot more easier and usually, things fall into place and you get that Eureka moment.

If you ever heard that thoughts could influence your actions, it is actually true. This is why awareness comes first. You need to be aware of your thoughts and how they influence your behavior. “Thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors influence performance,” says Gervais. He recommends that you empower yourself with words that could combat those negative thoughts. “For me, one of the most dynamic things that I can say to myself is, ‘I can do hard things,'” Gervais explains.

This could help you create a mindset that will bring you a lot of benefits and success in the future. One of the ways to do this is by writing them in a notebook. Speak these words to yourself to back up your intentions. During stressful or worrying situations, these examples could be used to ease the negative thoughts running through your mind.

While it may sound as if it is forcing toxic positivity, it is actually different. If you are doing this by dismissing your negative thoughts, it is toxic. Meanwhile, if you are doing it while embracing and accepting the emotions that you feel, it is healthy.


Breathwork is the typical exercise to be done when we are facing difficult or stressful situations. It is as simple as breathing deeper within a few seconds. One of the prominent leaders, CEO and co-founder of HubKonnect, Michael Koch, has used this exercise, which is called the navy box breathing. It needs to take four seconds of breathing in, hold it for four seconds, breathe slowly for four seconds and hold another four seconds. Then, repeat the cycle for 5 minutes if you can to maximize the effects.

“Breathing is meant to be able to help you find that ideal state where the porridge isn’t too hot, it’s not too cold, but it’s just right.” Gervais says.

With the three skills, while it may not eliminate all of the stress, it could help you show up better in the world. Also, it could help you to be a person with emotional intelligence, a person who could handle stressful situations in a calm manner.

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