There’s a Reason Why You’re Choking Under Pressure

You practiced that major presentation all week. You memorized your speech front and back. So you walk into the room, face the crowd, and take a deep breath. Why is nothing coming out? And why are the words that are coming out not sounding the way you rehearsed?

Surprisingly, you may be bombing the presentation because you’re overthinking it, and there’s research to prove it!

According to a study done by University of California Santa Barbara, overthinking can be detrimental to human performance. Without getting too technical, here was the result of the study:

Participants were shown a series of kaleidoscopic images for about a minute, then had a one-minute break before being given memory tests containing two different kaleidoscopic images. They were then asked to distinguish images they had seen previously from the new ones.

“After they gave us that answer, we asked whether they remembered a lot of rich details, whether they had a vague impression, or whether they were blindly guessing,” explains Lee. “And the participants only did better when they said they were guessing.”

So basically, when people thought less, they remembered more.

This doesn’t mean you should go through life “winging it”. If anything, it’s a reminder that as long as you practice and make the proper preparations, you should be able to perform just as planned—even for crises and other emergencies that may come your organization’s way.

Simply take a deep breath, calm your nerves, and trust yourself!

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

4 responses

  1. Guilty as charged! Overthinking is the enemy of preparation. I remind myself of this often!

    1. You aren’t the only one guilty, Enna! That’s why we have to practice until it becomes second nature, and then let it come automatically.

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