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How to Stop Stress Sweat and Keep ‘Cool’ During Your Next Big Presentation

When you entered the business or sales arena, you signed up for the stress. But you probably didn't anticipate the stress sweating that gives away your nerves and destroys your self-confidence.

Sweating under pressure is never an enjoyable or pretty experience, but it’s the body’s natural, evolutionary response to stress. We simply can't help it.

Stressful scenarios like sales pitches or interviews trigger our fight or flee response and the physiological effects including increased heart rate and sweating. You’ve probably felt that extra boost of adrenaline course through your veins when interviewing with a new company or presenting to your CEO - and some unfortunate underarm wetness as a result. It’s instinctive and unavoidable.

Fortunately, you don’t have to fret about fighting a physical predator in your sales pitch, but your body still treats both situations the same. Combine a stressful scenario with axillary hyperhidrosis, and your sweat game is guaranteed to be on.

For many, stress sweating is a natural byproduct of being in the spotlight. But there are some ways to calm your nerves and suppress the body’s sweating reaction before the whole room has to know.

1. Accept that you’ll make mistakes

Your presentations never go exactly as planned. But by accepting that blips or mistakes are inevitable, you won’t be thrown off when you skip a point or something goes awry.

Although practice doesn’t make perfect, it does aid your confidence. By over-rehearsing your presentation or walking through every potential interview question, you will feel self-assured going in (and subdue nervous sweating).

2. Visualize success

The brain often struggles to  discern actual experiences from imagined ones, so visualize every detail of your meeting or presentation going flawlessly, and your brain may believe you. By homing in on success, you subdue the perceived existence of threats and the sweating that follows.

3. Try progressive muscle relaxation

This is one of the most effective relaxation techniques. While closing your eyes, tense each body part of the body (starting with your feet) for 5 seconds then relax it. Once you reach your head, your nerves should melt away along with your inclination to sweat. As a forewarning, this method requires patience, but it will get easier and faster with time.

4. Take focused breaths

Sounds simple, right? You’ve probably heard this one before and might take some conscious breaths to keep calm from time to time. But to truly relax – and offset nervous sweating – you can’t just take a couple deep breaths and call it a day.

Breathing techniques are powerful relaxation strategies, but to actually reduce stress long-term, you need to dedicate 20 to 30 minutes a day to focused breathing. For more detailed breathing strategies, check out the American Institute of Stress’ recommendations.

5. Listen to soothing music

Music helps you escape everyday anxieties and settles your nerves. In fact, studies show that listening to music lowers heart rate and blood pressure and slows breathing. Before your next speech or interview, turn on your favorite tunes beforehand to lower your heart rate – and the chance of nervous sweating.

6. Skip the coffee

The heat from warm beverages alone makes you sweat. But caffeine is also shown to mobilize the nervous system and invite those anxious feelings that also fuel nervous sweating. Opt for other ways to amp yourself up before a big presentation like listening to music or imagining success.

7. Distract yourself from stress and sweating

Rather than dwelling on the fact that you’re nervous and probably sweating profusely, direct your attention to positive stimuli around you. Worrying about sweating inherently makes you sweat more than your nerves are already causing.

Many Thompson Tee customers have told us that simply wearing a sweat proof Thompson Tee (and knowing sweat isn’t pouring through their clothes and visible to others) keeps them calm and collected in otherwise stressful sales or business situations. If nothing else, wear cool, breathable clothing to avoid feelings of wetness.  

8. Stay hydrated

If you’re dehydrated, your body will sweat more to cool you down. Extreme stress also dries out the mouth, so make sure to drink plenty of water beforehand to prevent potentially distracting cottonmouth.

Don’t let nervous sweating take the wheel on your professional path. Try these techniques, and start putting mind over body to end the stress sweat and show clients and your boss what you’re truly capable of.

What other rituals help you stay calm and dry under pressure?