6 Effective Ways to Prepare for Your Big Moment

You’ve got a big moment ahead of you, whether it’s a presentation, a performance, or a pitch. You want to own it, but your jitters are threatening to own you. What to do? This week, Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen offers 6 things to do before a big moment (besides power pose in a bathroom stall).

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD,
April 28, 2017
Episode #152

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Tip #4: The Mona Lisa smile.

The Mona Lisa smile also uses your body to influence your emotions, except rather than confidence and presence, we’re aiming for calm and serenity. It’s officially a technique called half-smile from dialectical behavioral therapy, and it’s used to help increase distress tolerance, also known as not losing it when the going gets rough.

To try it out, arrange your face to mimic the Mona Lisa’s barely-there smile. Then, deliberately relax your  eyes, jaw, scalp, and shoulders. The Mona Lisa smile isn’t a tight-lipped grimace—it’s serene and steady, a great antidote for when you’re feeling anything but.

Indeed, think of the serenity prayer and use the Mona Lisa smile during those moments where you’re trying really hard to “accept what you cannot change.”

Beware a creeping sense of 'I don’t care.'

Tip #5: Resist the urge to disengage.

You know when it’s happening—you pre-emptively de-value your big moment in order to protect yourself from potential failure. You may start thinking: “I don’t even want this.” “Who am I kidding?” “This isn’t what really matters.”

Now, it’s fine to get some perspective: “In five years, will anyone really remember if I screwed up?” or “What’s most important is the health of my family, not this job offer.”

But beware a creeping sense of “I don’t care.” Disengagement and devaluing are designed to  protect your psyche if things go wrong, but they may also lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. If you convince yourself you don’t care, you won’t put your best foot forward.

So remember why you went through all the trouble to prepare for your big moment. Stay engaged, stay hungry. If your big moment doesn’t turn out as you planned, so be it. At least you stayed engaged all the way to the end. By contrast, if you disengage, you’ll always wonder what might have been.

Tip #6: Affirm what you’re good at, even if it has nothing to do with the moment.

We often try to psych ourselves up by telling ourselves we’re good at what we’re about to do.“I’m gonna crush this interview.” “I’m gonna run the race of my life.”  “I own this Tracy Turnblad role.” But sometimes that just feels like a lie.

Instead of empty cheerleading, try affirming the values and actions that you believe deeply--affirm those things that make you, you--even if it has nothing to do with your big moment. Murmuring to yourself, “I’m a really patient father,” “I’ve got 25 years of sobriety under my belt,” or “I believe in providing my kids the best education possible,” may seem nonsensical when you’re about to step onstage for your Hairspray audition, but it works by reinforcing your belief in yourself and your values.

So next time you find yourself in your personal equivalent of Eminem’s final rap battle in 8 Mile, put a Mona Lisa smile on your face, a spring in your step, true-to-the-core affirmations in your heart, and vow to learn all you can. You'll turn your biggest moment into your biggest success.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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