Just Breathe: Relaxing Before an Investor Meeting

By: Muhammad Yasin

It makes sense that you’d get hyped up—nervous, even—before an investor meeting. You’re about to meet with people who may fund this crazy idea you have that could change your life forever. The thing is, when you have that much nervous energy rushing through your body, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. You can’t perform well. To really crush the meeting, you have to calm down, and slow down. Lucky for you, there are a few ways that you can calm yourself down that don’t involve deep, soothing breaths and chanting mantras.

The Nasty Amygdala Hijack

You’ve heard of the fight or flight response. That’s controlled by a little gland on the brain stem called the amygdala. Whenever you’re faced with a stressful situation, it kickstarts the amygdala, which produces adrenaline. In all of about .8 milliseconds, your brain is hijacked by the amygdala, and the only thing you’ll think about is either fighting or flying out of there. The worst part of it is that it can take up to 18 minutes for your brain to get back to normal. So, if your brain gets hijacked in the middle of an investor presentation, you’re out of luck.


You can counter the amygdala hijack, but it’s certainly not easy. The best way is to keep away from any dramatic situations. Don’t get into a fight with your significant other before the meeting. Don’t take any calls from a college friend who’s in desperate need of a job. Just stay focused on the task at hand.


The Positive Hijack

If your brain does get hijacked, you’ve got two options: counter it, or try a positive hijack. To counter it, you do something that doesn’t make any sense at all. Do something you wouldn’t do if a tiger was about to attack you. Lean against a wall. Drink a glass of water. Smile really big. This will slow you down and counteract the 18 minutes of adrenaline you’re about to deal with.


On the other hand, you can try to trick your brain into being completely calm. You can override the amygdala hijack with something positive. Smells are usually the most common way to do this—something that reminds you of something happy. Maybe it’s a song you sang with your brother when you were in high school. Whatever it is, let it put you in a happy place.


Slowing Down

From the minute you wake up the day of an investor meeting, your brain’s going to be flooring the gas pedal. You’re going to go over things again and again and again, practicing your talk, playing out the scenario of potential questions. But here’s something you need to realize: after you get in the car to drive to your meeting, there’s nothing more you can do to prepare yourself. You’re either ready, or you aren’t. So take that opportunity to slow down. Relax, realize that you can’t cram anything more into your brain, and just enjoy the presentation. Speak slowly, speak clearly, and answer any questions as they pop up.