Using a whiteboard to help your nerves

Jane Sheffield
Lead Trainer & Owner
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Does presenting make you feel uncomfortable? If so, you are not alone.

Standing at the front of the room, with people staring back, is not the most comfortable situation for anyone. Presenting can make you feel exposed, vulnerable, and judged.

So, when we present, we naturally (and understandably) look for places to hide. Behind our slides. Behind a podium. Even under the desk.

Well if this resonates with you, let me give you a new hiding place: the whiteboard!
But not to hide behind – rather, to work alongside.

When coaching in my ‘Speak Like a Leader’ workshop, I often ask participants to turn off their slides, turn over the notes, and have a go at explaining their point using a whiteboard.
Nine times out of ten, the presenter feels more comfortable, becomes more engaging, and communicates more effectively. Why? Because using a whiteboard:

1. Takes the focus away from you             

A whiteboard provides your audience with something to look at other than you – which works wonders for a very nervous presenter. It also allows you, the presenter, to focus on the job at hand, rather than how you are feeling.

2. Takes you out of your notes and into the room.

When we are focused on remembering an exact sentence or a list of bullet points, our communication style can become dry and stilted. When, instead, you force yourself to use your own words and pictures, you get to prove (both to your audience and yourself) that you know your stuff. (But do remember to practice this, lots of times. Nothing worse than realising, during the presentation, that you actually do not know your stuff).

3. Provides you with a purpose to your movement.

Standing still at the front of the room feels very unnatural for many of us. When we can use purposeful movement (as opposed to restless repetitive movements), it helps us look and feel more natural and comfortable.

So, in your next presentation if you need to:

  • Explain a concept
  • Detail a step-by-step process
  • Talk around a series of points, e.g., A list, 3 key words, or a timeline,

Why not put away the slides, and try using a WHITEBOARD as your helpful, nerve-reducing visual aid instead.

Stop presenting. Start talking.


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