Oops I did it again …. How to deal with blushing in a presentation

how to stop blushing

Blushing can be very embarrassing, when it happens during a presentation, it can make us even more nervous.

It happens to the best of us.  I remember on my wedding day, my biggest fear was not whether my husband-to-be would turn up (he did, thankfully!) but that I would blush.  In those days, when I blushed it seemed to go from my cheeks, to my neck and all the way to my toes!  For many people who blush, the fear of blushing while delivering a business presentation can actually impinge on their impact.

Before we look at the tips on how to deal with blushing – just a little bit on why we blush and why we blush less as we age.

Why do we blush?

According to www.science.howstuffworks.com we blush because we feel embarrassed.  When we feel embarrassed our body releases adrenaline, similar to how it does in the fight or flight response.  The latter goes right back to caveman time.  Caveman comes out of his cave – sees a tiger, has to decide… “hmm, will I fight or will I flight?”  Either way, the body knows it needs to warm up the necessary limbs quickly so sends extra blood there.  That is why, one of the things that happens when we get nervous, is that our palms get sweaty.

So, back to the blushing and adrenaline.  The adrenaline makes your blood vessels dilate to deliver more oxygen and increase.  So as the blood vessels in your face dilate, more blood flows there and voila – blushing!  The reason why it happens to some people and not others appears to be a bit of a mystery.

Why do we blush less as we age?

Two reasons why we blush less as we age.  Firstly, we tend not to be as self-conscious.  You probably notice this yourself, in most situations.  Having said that, many adults can actually be more self-conscious as they age when delivering business or corporate presentations.  This can be because they are more senior and feel added pressure to be a really high impact presenter.

Second reason why we blush less is due to the fact that as we age, stimulation of facial blood vessels decreases.

How can we deal with blushing?

Stop thinking about it!

Enrique Jadresic has written a whole book on the topic “When blushing hurts”  We tend to blush as we feel anxious or nervous and the more we think about it the worse we feel. Acknowledge, silently to yourself that you are blushing and move on… One way to take your mind off the blushing is to clench your buttocks tightly for a few seconds and then release.  This can help remove the focus from the blushing… it also works the glutes so it’s a win win!

A blush only lasts a minute

According to Wikipedia a blush will typically last from one to two minutes.  In my experience, most people tend to blush for shorter rather than longer.  Although when we are blushing that one minute can feel like 10!

What is the worst that can happen?

Are people going to walk out of your presentation?  Are they going to totally dismiss what you are saying?

Of course not!  If you were listening to someone speaking and they blushed, you would most likely empathise with them.  Right?  That is what your audience are likely to do too.

In fact, it may even make your audience like you more.  In her fantastic TED talk Brené Brown talks about the power of vulnerability.  I believe that blushing shows a certain vulnerability and in turn your human side, which helps your audience to connect with you.

If you feel that your blushing is caused by excessive nerves when presenting see our post on How to Shake off Nerves.

And remember it happens to the best of us!