How I Handle Pre-Performance Nerves

How I Handle Pre-Performance Nerves

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
~ Nelson Mandela

I want to share with you a few things I do whenever I feel nervous about “performing” in my business. That might be teaching a class, doing a live video, being interviewed, or speaking to someone else’s audience and even though I dislike the term performance, I trust you’ll get what I mean when I say that’s how it can feel to us!

As a solopreneur who is committed to getting the word out about conscious business and ethical marketing, I regularly need to face my fears and put myself at the front of the room, so to speak.

To give you a few examples, I presented on authentic outreach to Sarah Santococe’s Humane Marketing Circle, hosted a live online workshop (or 2), and was one of 4 speakers at a roundtable discussion on business model for Tad Hargrave. All of these things, to varying degrees, result in what I’m calling pre-performance nerves.

Back when I had a 9–5 office job, I had a lot of presentations to do and they absolutely terrified me. My voice would start shaking, my stomach would be in knots, I’d feel my face flush and I’d be dying inside (side note: people always told me I came across as very confident and didn’t see any of what I was experiencing inside). The thing was I didn’t have a choice, they were part of the job description, so I sucked it up and somehow got through the excruciating anxiety of it all.

So, you can imagine as a business owner, choosing to volunteer myself for speaking opportunities or “putting myself out there” has required some courage on my part. What spurs me on though is knowing that people need to know that I and my business exist if they are going to buy from me. So I’ve developed a couple of strategies I always do when I start to feel the nerves of presenting get the better of me.

I think about people who love me

I’m a proud Mama of two gorgeous boys and I have a wonderful and loving partner. I keep on my desk at all times photos of the four of us together as a family. Whenever I’m about to do something scary, I’ll pick up one of my photos and take a good hard look and I remind myself that no matter how badly I do in this… interview, presentation or speaking slot, they will still love me. They won’t care if I umm or ahh, they won’t care if I forget my words or encounter a tech snafu. To these 3 people, I’m already a hero and that really helps me to put whatever I’m about to do into perspective. Their opinion matters to me more than anyone else’s and it won’t be affected by how I perform for a work thing and just remembering that can be enough to calm my nerves.

I think about the future

In a similar vein, if I’m feeling particularly nervous, I like to think about a point in time after the event has happened and imagine how good it will feel once it’s over.

Usually, that point in time is the boys coming home, full of energy and life, wanting to hug me and tell me about their day. I like to think about and revel in the sensations of the relief and elation I know I’m going to feel once the scary thing I had to do is now over. I’ll even look at the clock and calculate how long it will be before this scary thing will be out of the way and not something I have to worry about anymore. Focusing on those future sensations often is enough to override or at least quieten any anxiety I might be feeling.

I think about my mission

Sometimes, pre-performance anxiety can come in the form of inner chatter like “who am I to share this stuff”, “there’s nothing special about what I have to share”, “everybody’s probably heard all of this before” etc, I’m sure you know how it goes! When that’s the case, I remind myself of the relief I felt when I first heard or learned of some of the things I now share with my audience and other people’s.

I think about the impact everything I have learned about conscious business and ethical marketing has had on me as a business owner and the growth and evolution of my business and I remind myself of my mission to spread that message.

When I was on a speaking panel with some giants in my industry who have been in business twice as long as me and make far more money. Initially, I felt totally inadequate, but as I remembered my mission I realised that for many people in the audience, the gap between themselves and some of these speakers is so huge that it might feel intimidating or overwhelming to consider how to bridge it.

My goal then became to tailor my message for those people in the audience earlier on in the journey who I can still relate to. That really helped me to anchor into the fact that I have an important message and experience to share.

I remember previous performance successes

Given I’ve felt pre-performance anxiety and nerves many times in my life but have yet to really blow a speaking opportunity and have always received positive feedback. I also like to remind myself that even though there is fear and anxiety, I can do this. I have a wealth of experience of doing things like this and not messing up.

Now each of these things on their own might not seem like they’d be enough to quel pre-performance fears but for me, they do the trick. Plus the more times I put myself out there and face the fear, the easier it becomes. Will I ever be nerves free ahead of an important speaking opportunity? I don’t think so but I think that’s a good thing. It’s what drives me to prepare and practice, which I do regularly. It’s a sign that I care about doing a good job.

How about you? I’d love to know if you have any tips or tricks for managing your nerves in situations like these. Feel free to let me know in the comments.



Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

Stop Copying Other Business Owners

Stop Copying Other Business Owners

“Whatever you do, be different — that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.”
~ Anita Roddick

As a business coach and more importantly, as a business owner, I’m pretty obsessed with the importance of having a sustainable business model.

I started out as a brand new coach over a decade ago and between then and now I’ve pretty much made all of the business model mistakes a business owner can make.

Copying other people’s models without knowing the full picture, undercharging and overgiving, overcharging and under delivering and many more besides.

From it all, the greatest lesson I’ve learned regarding business model is the importance of sustainability.

A business that not only sustains you financially but that fulfils you personally. A business that gives you energy, rather than drains you of it.

A business that you actually enjoy showing up for, week after week, month after month, year after year.

So what makes a sustainable business model?

Most newer business owners, trying to figure out how to make money, will jump straight to looking at what combination of products and services they will offer, asking themselves “what can I sell in order to start bringing money into my business?”

And with this question comes a tendency to look around at what others in our field (particularly those who are more successful) are offering and try to copy it even when what they are copying might be totally unsuitable for the individual business owner.

My alternative to this is to take time to consider the following elements in order to create a business model or offering that is unique to you.

What stage of business are you at?

If you are brand new in business, the types of offerings you want to be considering will be significantly different to those for a more established business owner. My recommendation to people early on their business journey is to focus on a simple but impactful 1:1 service (like my subscription model).

When you have a small audience, it’s far easier to get 1 person to sign up for coaching with you, than it is to get 5–10 people into a group program, even if the latter is cheaper for the customer. I’ve seen many newer business owners get burned by trying to do group offerings too soon.

Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule so the important thing is that you consider your unique situation rather than follow blanket advice.

What would you enjoy to create and deliver?

When you seek to create a new offering, rather than copy what “seems” to be working for others in your field, it’s crucial that you take into account your own gifts and strengths, preferences and tendencies. Are you a gifted speaker, for example, who thrives when teaching a room full of people? Or do you come alive when working 1:1 and going deep with individuals? Are you introverted or extroverted? Does lots of contact with people drain you or sustain you? These and so much more are really important things to consider as you design your next product or service.

What your audience wants (and needs) and would be prepared to pay for?

As business owners we often assume we know best when it comes to what our clients “need” but this isn’t necessarily what they want or what they are willing to pay for. What is key here is doing some research with your people before you create something. Most business owners do little audience research before creating and launching a new offering and the effects of this are few if any sales.

What your audience would be able to bear in terms of marketing?

This comes into play when we consider the product or service we want to create and sell. With a small audience, getting a new 1:1 client a month may still be pretty achievable. A small or stagnant audience, won’t however bear a big group launch 2 or 3 times a year. Here you want to be taking into account not only your audience size but it’s rate of growth. How many new people are getting to know you each month?

What marketing the business owner can bear or afford to do?

This is the one that tripped me up in the early days of my business. I got all excited when I came across a business membership for female entrepreneurs. The founder had hundreds (if not thousands) of members all paying less than £40 a month and I thought it was genius.

I figured I could make a membership for ethical and conscious business owners and I wouldn’t need half the members they had and could even charge less. To begin it was great — I had nearly 20 members sign up from my tiny list but pretty soon I was completely burned out from creating content and trying to retain the members I had (most of whom had paid a super low beta rate). Plus I didn’t have the energy or the desire to do the marketing required to enrol new people. A year later I had to close it down as it wasn’t financially sustainable.

All products and services require different levels and types of marketing to be successful. Make sure you take this into consideration before copying someone else’s business model. If they’ve been in business a while, they may have a whole team and advertising budget to support them (like the business I was seeking to emulate!).

The problem with copying

When you are early on in the business journey, it can take a lot of courage to ditch conventional advice and forge your own path.

I remember myself when decided I wanted to move away from the classic 3 and 6 month coaching package and instead offer a coaching subscription, I was actually terrified, it took me a year and lots of testing behind the scenes with existing clients before I changed my business model and made my coaching subscription the only way people could work with me 1:1. My business took off from there.

Creating something unique

It can be hard to create a unique business model or offering when we see nearly everyone doing the same thing. So I wanted to share some examples of unique (and successful) offerings that demonstrate how it can be done.

My subscription model for 1:1 coaching. When I realised that my clients weren’t able to achieve results in an arbitrary 12 week timeframe, I ditched the traditional 3 month coaching package in favour of a lower priced ongoing subscription and the results have been amazing both for my business (more clients + more income) and for my clients. Because of the lower price point, they’re able to stay with me longer and therefore get better results.

My favourite ethical copywriter Lauren Van Mullem realised that she didn’t only want to do full service copywriting for people and wanted to find something less intensive for her and more affordable for her clients so she created Loom Reviews. Lauren also ditched convention with her freebie. Rather than a “5 ways to make your copy stand out” PDF, she created Craft and Copy hour. A way for her to make time for her love of crafts, a chance to meet Lauren, do some crafting with her and ask her any copy related ideas you have. Talk about unique!

Tad Hargrave found he didn’t want to spend so much time in front of a computer, he wanted a less
cluttered home but resented tidying AND that some of his people couldn’t afford his full 1:1 coaching rate of $300 an hour so he created puttering sessions — a unique solution to all of the above. Lower priced coaching sessions, because Tad will be puttering around his home tidying up while he talks to you! Genius.

All of the above, hopefully demonstrate what’s possible when you create something that is truly unique to you!



Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.