In a post-Olympics story, The New York Times wrote about how elite athletes visualize a successful performance.
They see themselves navigating the turns in a downhill race, and mentally visualize the course over and over. Skiers and skaters plan every jump, turn and landing.
As one Olympian said, “You have to smell it. You have to hear it. You have to feel it, everything.” The visualization even extends to how they would handle themselves in a news conference to show off their medals.
You’re Not Fat Anymore
You can use visualization, too, when you’re making a presentation or meeting with a reporter. Too many business people have a negative image of themselves. They still see that fat kid who sat in the back of the classroom and endured the taunts of his classmates. Or, they’re still the gawky teenager with acne.
If you tend to get down on yourself, substitute the negative images in your head and imagine the way you want to be perceived. Banish thoughts about whether someone will notice you have a chipped tooth or think you need a haircut.
Often when working with executives and video taping their rehearsals we will freeze the video at a point when they are at their best – energetic, assertive and spontaneous. They know what they want to say and are coming across as skilled professionals.
In the replay of the tape at that spot, they will see who they really are now. Not that fat kid or gawky teenager. The true adult mage is the one they need to carry around in their heads.
You, too, can use visualization before making a presentation. As you prepare for the meeting, start by imagining yourself walking confidently into the room. You look and feel good. You smile and engage the audience. They smile back. You can feel the warmth coming your way.
Visualize yourself delivering your talk, remembering to gesture and smile in the right places. Anticipate the audience applauding loudly at the conclusion of your presentation. Remain on stage or in the center of the room for a moment as you’ve earned the applause.
Practice visualization and make it an important part of your preparation for every important meeting, whether it’s a presentation, a client call or an interview with a reporter.
“I’ve tried to keep the track in my mind throughout the year,” said another Olympian quoted in the Times article. “I’ll be in the shower or brushing my teeth. It just takes a minute…you try to keep it fresh in your head, so when you do get there, you are not just starting at square one. It’s amazing how much you can do in your mind.”
Don’t Aim for Perfection
As you visualize your success, don’t aim for perfection. Otherwise, you’ll continue to see yourself as the school kid who failed because you didn’t get all A’s. You just need to do the best you can.
Nora Hooper is personal coach who helps clients (including a past Olympic gold medalist) to achieve greater confidence and creativity. She was watching the Olympics snowboarding competition with her husband, and was struck by the celebratory joy of the athletes.
“We talked about how impressive it was to watch each woman rejoice as she completed her attempt to garner a medal in Sochi,” she wrote “They were not judging themselves or letting expectations of perfection rule their behavior. It appeared to me they were accepting that they had done their best.”
Visualize yourself as the confident, capable person that you are. Not perfect but the best you can be. Trust that others are seeing you that way, too.
- How to Use Visualization to Achieve Racing Goals (fitnessfatale.com)
- What Business Executives Can Learn From Winter Olympians (forbes.com)