Listener Adeel from England wrote in to ask how he can perform better under pressure. Adeel has spoken English as a second language for many years and has excellent communication skills. But he notes that in high-pressure situations, he sometimes gets anxious and the words don’t come, plus his accent becomes more pronounced. What can he do to remedy this?
Performance Anxiety Is Universal
Anyone who’s ever been in a similar situation—and that’s all of us—can empathize. Even with tasks we've done a million times—like speaking a second language, walking up stairs, or navigating the grocery store—under pressure or observation, we get psyched out. We lose the most basic skills. A friend told me that once, during a lunch interview, she overthought how to swallow and had to sit for a few moments with a mouth full of iced tea before she could collect herself and figure it out.
It’s universal: pressure, whether it’s pushing down on me or pressing down on you, makes us second-guess how to hold the putter, work the laser pointer, or pronounce niche (is it “neesh?” Or “nitch?”), even though we usually do it without a thought.
So what can you do in the moment? Whether you’re trying to ace an audition, nail a presentation, shoot a free throw, or spell “koinonia” for the win at the National Spelling Bee, how can you pull out all the stops without losing your cool?
This week, let’s get it done with these three tips.