Most people experience some form of nervousness when they are in front of an audience. Giving a presentation is no exception. But what if I told you that scientists have proven you can reduce your anxiety by 65% by doing one simple thing?

Let’s explore a ground-breaking study in sound therapy and anxiety research. This could prove to be a powerful weapon in fighting your public speaking nerves.

The Study

Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson from Mindlab International wanted to test whether sound therapy really could reduce anxiety levels. Sound therapy has long been used and studied as a way to promote relaxation and reduce stress. But he wanted to know just how relaxing a song could be. Lewis-Hodgson and his team measured the stress levels of 20 participants as they listened to different songs. At the end of the study, there was a clear winner. One 8-minute track had proven to reduce stress levels in the participants by up to 65%.

How could they tell? Scientists measured the heart rate, respiration rate, and EDA (skin conductance) of participants and found the winning song to be 11% more relaxing that other songs. It was even 6% more relaxing than a massage. So what was this seemingly magical piece of music?

The Song

The anxiety-busting song was “Weightless” by Marconi Union which was created with sound technicians for the purpose of relaxation. Founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, Lyz Cooper, explains why this song, in particular, so drastically reduces anxiety. She says the song “starts at 60 beats pers minute and gradually slows to around 50. While listening, your heart rate gradually comes to match that beat.” In addition, Cooper notes that there is no repeating melody in the song. This “allows your brain to completely switch off because you are no longer trying to predict what is coming next.” Listen now.

The Application

Before you ever begin your presentation, you’ve put a lot of work into making it great. You’ve written great content, prepared thoughtful media, and practiced your speech. Likewise, you should be intentional about preparing your body and mind to deliver your presentation. As this study shows, it only takes a few minutes.

Use this scientifically backed strategy for fighting anxiety the next time you are scheduled to give a presentation. Take those 8 minutes to listen to “Weightless” and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Combine it with other stress-reducing techniques like box breathing to prepare yourself to be your best. If you still feel a little nervous after listening to “Weightless,” reframe those leftover feelings from anxiety to excitement. Remind yourself that you are ready to do this, and to do it well. You’ve been preparing for this, so it’s natural to have some excited energy.

One final thing. During the process of researching and writing this, I conducted my own informal experiment. I’ve been listening to the longer, 30-minute version of “Weightless” to see if it impacted my writing process in any way. I’m no neuroscientist, but I can tell you this. I haven’t reached for my phone once. I’ve felt incredibly focused and relaxed. And I was able to complete my task in less time than it usually takes me. Seems like those scientists might actually be on to something. Something you’ll want to check out for yourself.

We love digging into scientific research that can help us become better storytellers, designers, and speakers. Ready to learn more?

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