How to present when you would really like to curl up in a ball and die

imagesSo here is the thing.  You need to stand up in front of a group and deliver a presentation.  This is part of your work, your job, and your career.  You have tried everything you possibly can to get out of it (the dog ate your homework, your junior staff member can do it as part of their self development, you are coming down with a cold, surely a memo would be a better form of communication? Etc. but nothing has worked). You would rather curl up in a corner and die…what do you do?

Here are five steps to take so that you can physically stand up and deliver and moreover not just survive but thrive (honest!)

  1. Take a deep breath…and release.  And again.  And again.  Sometimes just the very thought of public speaking sends our unconscious minds a-racing and following time-worn patterns without us realising it.  Interrupt those old patterns by being attentive to what happens physically and emotionally and mentally when you start to think about speaking in public.  Observe and notice without judgment and without labels.  Perhaps you notice a physical reaction in the pit of your stomach or at the back of your throat.  Perhaps you notice a sense of alarm in your chest or a wobble in your tummy.  Notice, accept and keep being attentive. This can help break the pattern of one thing leading to another.
  2. Prepare effectively.  People who are nervous about speaking often do one of two things.  They either prepare well or not at all.  Preparation IS key but what matters is effective preparation.  Writing everything down, reciting it so you know it by rote, cramming all the detail on slides may initially make you feel more prepared but actually result in a presentation that is unlikely to engage and sound dull and squeezed of personality and energy.  Prepare by identifying the one key message you want people to take away, what you want them to do and know at the end, writing out the flow of your presentation (the chunks of information and how they link together) and finally the stories and examples you can use to make this come alive for this particular audience
  3. Practice effectively.  Practicing to learn everything off by heart is rarely a good idea although it feels comforting.  What it does though is makes you focus on the fear of forgetting or getting it wrong.  And what you really need to do is focus on building rapport with your audience and their experience.  Learn the flow and each time you practice focus on what words you are using, what your body needs to do, what space you need to take up. In other words practice standing up, moving, thinking and feeling.  So that when you stand up to deliver the whole YOU will be delivering (body, mind and soul!) all working together and taking out the fear factor.
  4. Be kind to yourself.  Things will go wrong.  And that is OK.  People want to see other humans deliver presentations.  Not automatic robots.  So if a word doesn’t come out just right or you have to check with your notes to recall the next piece, so be it.  They will understand provided you can keep on going in a respectful way.
  5. Seek feedback.  The only way you get better is when you understand the impact you had on your listeners.  And ask what you did well, what you could do more of and what you could start doing.  You need to focus on the positive so you can repeat and be consistent about your presentation performances.

If you would like to chat about standing up and delivering without crumbling into a bag of nerves then call Catherine on 07946604859 or email on Catherine . Click here to receive regular email tips for Experts Who Present.

The Expert’s Presentation Game plan is an online training programme available using this link.


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