Greetings fellow presenter…If you’re feeling nervous about giving a talk then you’re in good company. Hundreds of really successful people feel fearful and anxious before giving a presentation.
So here’s something that’s useful to accept straight away…
There is no need to let the nervousness stop you. You can be nervous and still give the talk anyway. Most people do!
I know it would be great if the nerves would go away and I expect that after you read the following article that they will reduce somewhat. But here’s a key point: The unpleasant feeling that your brain is creating is probably hitting you way harder than it needs to. Your brain is sending your body a message which is something like:
Whereas in fact, this signal is probably over the top when you logically consider the situation you are facing.
Am I right? Think about it.
Of all the situations that you have dealt in your life, especially the really important ones, where does this presentation stack up in comparison? If you’re anything like I used to be (and I was) you are probably unconsciously exaggerating the importance of this presentation.
Here’s a Rational Emotive Behaviour Technique that you can use to reduce your nervousness right now.
Consider that, anything that you have to deal with that is REALLY important, will make you nervous. If, for example, you were dealing with a situation where your life, or the life of another person depended on your skills, well then you have good cause to be nervous.
So if you’re saying to yourself “This presentation is life and death important!”, then you’ll be justifiably, really nervous!
Now – don’t be embarrassed or feel stupid if you are saying something like that to yourself. We humans tend to be very black and white in our thinking. Life is either a breeze or a hurricane – we forget about the areas in between. And emotionally, that gets us into trouble.
So here’s what to do – Consider that you are RATING the importance of this presentation against all the other things that you have handled in your life (and I bet you’ve handled things way bigger than this).Things that have lasted longer, meant more, involved far more important people etc.
When it comes down to it, does this presentation rate the emotional discomfort that your brain is generating for you?I doubt it. So be realistic. Stop telling yourself that this is the most important thing in your life (100% important) and give it an accurate rating (60%? 30%? 10%?). In three months time, will you even remember this moment? I doubt it.
This process is deceptively simple but if you do it properly – IT WILL REDUCE YOUR NERVOUSNESS. Try writing down your “importance rating” of this talk. Now write down some of the really important challenges of your life – and rate them. Now, RE-rate the presentation.
From now on, every time you think of “how bad” this talk is, stop for a moment. Change the direction of your thinking. Rate the situation accurately using the information and numbers that you have just come up with. Stop exaggerating. Put it in perspective and give up the drama!
Then, instead of focusing your mental energy on making a mountain out of a molehill, you can use it effectively by preparing the talk and doing the job that is meant to be done – which is, providing something useful to your audience.
We're happy to talk - after all, speaking is what we teach!