Nicola Adams became the first British boxer to retain an Olympic title for 92 years by winning gold in the women’s flyweight final at Rio in 2016.

Speaking after her fight, she said  “I am always nervous…you need that to give you the adrenaline”.

The same principle applies to giving a presentation.  You perform better with adrenaline or energy than without it.  The key is how you manage the adrenaline.

The Adrenaline ‘rush’

The problem for many people is that as soon as they experience adrenaline – quickening heartbeat, rush of blood, sweaty palms – they focus on their fear and spend the presentation battling nerves.  When you reframe your response to adrenaline, you can channel it into ‘performance energy’.

If you have prepared well, created interesting content and know your stuff, you will be in a great position to manage your adrenaline.

What are you saying to yourself?

Adrenaline triggers your ‘self-talk’ which can be positive or negative.

When Nicola Adams was asked about her imminent fight, she said: “Another gold-medal fight – I can’t wait. This is what I’ve been training for for the last four years. I’m excited…” which is also what she would be saying to herself to get into the right state when her adrenaline gets triggered.

Fear is emotional, not rational. You need another emotion to replace the fear – like passion, pride or desire to help others – which are also linked to a surge of adrenaline.  Like Nicola Adams, you need to get excited, not afraid.

Steve Jobs of Apple always created his ‘passion statement’ before giving a presentation which went “I am excited to be giving this presentation because….” So that he could connect with what engaged his passion as a channel for his adrenaline.

Try it next time you have to stand and speak. Rather than interpreting your adrenaline as fear, think of it as passion. Remind yourself why you are excited to be speaking to these people and how listening to you could benefit them.

Think of Nicola Adams about to go into the boxing ring telling herself all the reasons she “can’t wait” despite her nerves. You’ll be a knockout.

Like more help from Caroline?

Let me know how I can help you with your next presentation by getting in touch with me here.


I have helped many people, who were once nervous and rambling to become confident and engaging public speakers.  Giving presentations, like driving lessons, is a skill you learn so you can get somewhere… and with my help you will get there in no time.