Would you rather swim with sharks than give a presentation? Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your presentation skills…
When you were a toddler, I have no doubt that your caregiver encouraged you to speak and took great pride and excitement when you used your first words. So why is it that as we get older the thought of speaking in public brings out a primal fear? Isn’t speaking to others a natural thing?
As a child, I was blessed with having a reputation as a chatterbox, at school I was known as the talkative one in class. This has served me well in my adult life, presentation skills have come naturally to me; and I have built a career delivering training and workshops, and helping others do the same.
Yet, amongst my clients, I have witnessed smarter people than me break into a cold sweat at the thought of standing in front of their peers and delivering a presentation; even though they are experts in their field. These same people have little trouble speaking up in a group that I am facilitating, but were I to ask them to come up the front and speak, I have no doubt they would say that they would rather swim with sharks.
This year I had the privilege of judging year 9 and 10 speech competitions for a local girls college. These amazing articulate young women had researched their subjects well, their passion knew no bounds, and they had clearly brushed up on their presentation skills, they were well rehearsed and polished. Each student had a unique style and they were well supported by their peers. I was excited to witness the possibilities that opened up for these eloquent young women who confidently delivered their message, being able to persuade or influence others will empower them throughout their careers.
But what if you haven’t been given these opportunities during your education or you just hate public speaking?
I won’t delve too far into the deep psychology behind this fear, I believe it often boils down to some mockery that occurred in a childhood playground or home, that just rears its head in the work environment. The mechanics of planning and putting a presentation together is the easy part. Recognising and overcoming deep rooted fears is where the real work needs to take place.
There are techniques like hypnotherapy, EFT and visualisation that can help break the back of your fear. Having acknowledged the fear you decide if you really do want to crush it. If you would prefer not to meet it head on, look at other solutions to get your message across, such as online presentation platforms. But, if you do want to face your demons the very next best move is to take note of what words are present in your head as you contemplate a speaking engagement.
From experience the top three blockers I witness amongst my clients are;
- Who do you think you are? I call it the tall poppy blocker.
- I’ll make a fool of myself! I call it the I’m not good enough blocker.
- Something is bound to go wrong… I call it the what if blocker.
But, I have good news! By simply replacing these blockers with positive statements, you will improve your presentation skills. Try these instead…
- I’m an expert in my field.
- I am a professional and other people respect me.
- I’m prepared, I’ve got this!
It’s not an instant fix but it’s a step in the right direction.
If you’d like some specific help with crafting or delivering training, or improving your presentation skills, then let’s connect by phone. I can help you on your journey to confident public speaking.