mooting in general and pleading in particular is a potentially stressful activity. No matter how laid-back your attitude is, no matter how well-prepared you are, no matter how much experience you have, when you enter the courtroom, you can become really nervous! And it fine – as long as it does not affect your performance, of course. I have seen extremely knowledgeable speakers being overwhelmed by stress they feel when they are in front of the tribunal. It is always a pity to see people who were ready to beat every opponent and sway every tribunal in their favour – but lose only with themselves. That’s why everyone should learn a couple of ways to combat moot-related stress!
Stress generates pressure that our body has to release. The worst part is that pleading involves very little physical activity that we are prepared for under stressful circumstances. Arbitrators are nor predators and we do not confront them by fighting or running. As a result, mooties end up seated behind a desk with only their willpower to suppress their nervousness.
However, there is a way to cheat your organism into believing that the danger is gone. Just before the pleading you can try to jog in place for a short time. This way you will release some pressure your body accumulates every time it feels threatened. A short jog in place before the pleading can help you enter the courtroom more relaxed. Just make sure the tribunal does not see you do it!
- Drink a lot of water
Drinking a lot of water before and during the pleading is essential to remain effective when stressed. When you are nervous, you sweat more and your throat becomes dry. In consequence, your voice projection is worse and instead of focusing on your arguments, you focus on how difficult it is for you to speak. Drinking water will hydrate you and cool you down, so always make sure there is a bottle or two nearby! Make sure that water is still – sparkling water makes your throat drier and can have some other unexpected side effects, so you better avoid it…
Music has been known for ages to be an excellent remedy to stress. It can deeply affect our mood – for the better, or for the worse. You know best what kind of music settles you down – use it to your advantage when needed! A short piece before your pleading when you need to calm down, focus and clear your mind can do wonders. Just make sure you do not annoy other people around you.
Although it is somewhat more advanced and requires more effort and consistent practise than the abovementioned ways to relieve stress, it has the potential to give you a lot of control over your emotions. I personally never tried it, but I met plenty of people who praised meditation for giving them clarity and focus that is necessary to perform intellectually challenging tasks – like pleadings. They say it takes time and practise to really feel its impact, so if you wish to try this technique out, you probably should do so a couple of weeks before the actual competition.
- Be well prepared
Last but not least, probably the best way to eliminate stress is to strike at its very source. Most people become stressed when they feel unprepared, that they failed to check all the boxes on their lists. When you enter the courtroom aware of the fact that you did everything you could to get ready for the challenge ahead of you, then you are far less likely to become too nervous! Fortune sometimes favours the bold – but more often it favours the ones who are prepared.
I hope these ways of fighting stress will come in handy. Try them out and check which one works best in your case!
All the best,