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Check out this funny YouTube video outlining all the things that take place in a typical presentation from hell!

It’s funny … right?? Funny … not funny … because most of us have probably found ourselves in this exact situation as recently as last week!! 

But why?? 

Why do these horrible presentations keep happening?? 

We know better … I know we all know better … yet they keep happening!!!

The answer is FEAR!!

Did you know that speech anxiety ranks higher than death as the fear people mention most often!

So why are we so afraid?? 

Everyone has their own unique reasons, and this is exactly where I start when I kick off a session on Presentation Skills

I hand out index cards, and ask the guests to complete the following sentences in their own words:

I love presentations because __________________.

I hate presentations because __________________.

I fear presentations because ___________________.

Then everyone shares their answers.

Here are some of the most common ones that come up for fear. 

  1. I fear presentations because the audience might judge me.
  1. I fear presentations because I might make a mistake.
  1. I fear presentations because I have always been told I am lousy at public speaking.
  1. I fear presentations because I am super nervous when I am speaking in front of professional peers.
  1. I fear presentations because I might not know the answer to a question.

In my humble estimation, the first step towards conquering your fear of presenting is sharing your fear. When you hear that your colleagues often share the same fears, you don’t feel so isolated in what you are feeling. 

Next comes facing the fears head on, and learning how best to deal with them.

At the close of each Presentation Skills training session, I ask the guests to pull out the index cards where they wrote what they love, hate, and fear when presenting.

They then write what they learned, and how they are going to apply it. 

Here are some of my favourite learnings as transcribed on the guests fear cards. 

  1. I fear presentations because the audience might judge me.

I am human just like everyone in the audience. No one is perfect. I have imperfections and that’s okay!

  1. I fear presentations because I might make a mistake.

If you screw up … admit it right there … in front of everyone. It’s better to be honest than try to cover it up. 

Mistakes happen most often when you haven’t taken the time to rehearse!! You must rehearse. 

Mistakes are a result of trying to remember all of the bullet points on the slide … lose the bullet points and lose the fear of mistakes. 

  1. I fear presentations because I have always been told I am lousy at public speaking.

No one has the right to tell me what I am good at! 

The world does not define who I am … unless I let them!

  1. I fear presentations because I am super nervous when I am speaking in front of professional peers.

Peers are rooting for you! They understand it can be nerve wracking. 

Ask a couple of your close peers to smile at you while you are presenting … it helps! 

Call on the peers in the audience to actively engage in your presentation by calling on them by name … conversations instead of presentations.

  1. I fear presentations because I might not know the answer to a question.

No one has all the answers ever … but if you rehearse with a couple of volunteer audiences in advance of your presentation, you can ask them to pepper you with tough questions during the rehearsal.

Never, ever, ever, fake it until you make it. If you don’t know, say so! Ask someone in the audience if they know. If they can’t help, then find out and get back to the guest within a couple of hours.

People often ask me if I am fearful before speaking. The answer is always … and the reason is that I care. 

A few jitters before you begin is a great sign. A sign that you are human, and a sign that you really care about the message you are delivering … just make sure that you are the boss … not your fear. 

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Marilyn

Barefoot Brainstorming

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