When asked for advice on how to be less nervous in presentations or other high-stakes social situations, some will tell you to imagine everybody naked. I don’t know about you, but being in a room full of naked strangers does not sound particularly calming to me.
Another piece of advice is to remember that everybody is insecure, or that even your heroes have imposter syndrome.
I’ll always remember director Jane Campion battling nerves when making The Piano because actor Harvey Keitel was so much more experienced than her. He took her aside and told her that as an actor, he just wants to please the director. Cool!
But to me, one realisation made the biggest difference:
Those you need need you back.
Job interview or audition? The employer needs a skilled person to take the position. They wouldn’t be hiring if they didn’t.
Pitch or presentation? One time, I was in a room and realised that if the person I spoke to brought their bosses a good pitch, they themselves would get a promotion. Publishers need authors to publish. Distributors need movies to acquire. Agents need talent to represent. Great actors need great roles to play.
In business and dating alike, there’s no greater deterrent than desperate energy. Arrogance is a sure sign of an insecurity cover up.
Focusing on what you genuinely have to offer, rather than what you want the other person to provide, will reduce your anxiety and heighten your chances of success.