It's been said that making a presentation is the most fearful experience for so many people that it's up there with facing death in the fear stakes!
While that may not be meant literally, it illustrates that fear could be the stumbling block behind a great presentation. How it’s handled will make the difference between a really successful, motivating and inspiring communication and something that falls flat.
So, how can you reduce the fear that could make a real mess of your message? Here are three tips to help you:
1) Prepare Yourself
Fear is produced when the emotional brain takes over from the rational brain and introduces feelings of inadequacy. At this point, the fear acts as a protection mechanism and kicks in to try to stop you making a fool of yourself or experiencing a lot of pain related to the whole experience.
Preparing will alleviate some or all of this inadequacy. But it has to be the right kind of preparation. Over-preparation will take away spontaneity, and cause you to put emphasis and reliance on what you’ve prepared. If one thing goes wrong, or your mind suddenly goes blank, you face real problems, as the fear rises again.
There’s an old story of a clergyman who prepared a sermon so well that he decided not to take his notes with him to the pulpit. As he faced his congregation, the reptilian brain took over and fear raised its ugly head. He addressed his congregation, saying “My fellows, when I walked up here to speak to you, only God and I knew what was going to be said. Now….only God knows!”
Preparation should be done in such a way that you can confidently approach the communication, knowing that you can get back on track if anything goes wrong.
2) It's Not About You
Place more emphasis on the audience than yourself. Many people presenting a message are so fixated on the impression they are making, or the words they have to say, they forget the real reason for the message, to provide the
people listening with a fresh perspective.
Your preparation should be carried out with the audience in mind. Ask yourself what you want the listeners to actually do as a result of the message you're putting across. And then concentrate on that, rather than making an impression.
The more you think about others, the less time and attention is spent on you. And that makes the fear subside.
3) Involve the Audience
in as many ways as possible. Whoever it is you’re presenting to, make sure they are actively involved. Create a presentation that can be interactive, asking questions, making startling statements or making them think deeply about what comes next.
The more you involve your audience, the more they are thinking about the content and your questions, rather than judging you. That way, the emphasis is on what they are thinking about, rather than how you are coming across.
Call to Action
It’s said that a coward dies a thousand deaths…a hero only one!
If you are continually worrying about the next thing that could go wrong, you’re killing yourself mentally every single time.
Instead, think through what you want to achieve, concentrate on the outcomes you want, rather than the speech itself, and that fear will dissipate into the distance as you confidently approach the presentation with ease and motivation.