Do a presentation or die? If you believe the statistics, most people would apparently prefer the latter! That seems a little dramatic and sounds like a lot of people are getting themselves tied up in knots unnecessarily.
And it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a big presentation in front of hundreds of people or presenting in front of your peers at your team meeting. The response for many is the same.
So let’s break it down so that we can understand exactly what’s going on in our brains and come up with a few tips to help the process seem a little less scary.
Why people most hate presenting – a little neuroscience
Firstly it makes sense to start with a little neuroscience. What’s happening in your brain? Basically it’s a stress response. The stress response is caused when we feel stressed due to some sort of threat. Unfortunately the brain can’t distinguish between a physical threat, and an emotional threat to our ego. Given that a lion is probably not about to pounce on you as you’re about to present, it’s more likely it’s all about your ego. Will I look stupid? What will people say? What if people don’t love my presentation? What if they don’t love me? How will this impact my career? And the list of ego-centric, “all-about-me” concerns just goes on.
In essence you are making the presentation about you and your ego. Here’s the thing, your presentation isn’t actually about you, it’s about the value you are a providing to your audience.
So now we know what’s really going on, below are some tips to help you to shift that mindset in advance and become a presenting machine……….
Your presentation isn’t about you – so get over yourself and your ego
When we are coaching people about their mindset for presenting this is the biggest shift we help people make for the biggest results. The presentation isn’t actually about you. Think of the presentation as being all about your audience. Ask yourself questions like the following:
- Why is this presentation useful to the audience?
- What value can these people receive?
- Why do these people need this information?
- What impact will this information have on these people?
- How will the audience benefit from having this information?
Assume the audience wants you to succeed
Maybe I’m deluded but when I’m in an audience, I want the presenter to be successful in adding value to me. I’m there to learn and I’m going to assume the presenter is an expert who will add value to me. And I think that most people generally want the speaker to succeed.
So when you’re presenting, it doesn’t make any sense to spend a whole stack of energy credits on “What if they hate me?” when it’s just as easy to assume that they will love what you have to say and therefore put the energy credits into adding as much value to them as possible.
Sure, not everyone will love you, that’s life. But assume the vast majority will and the ones who don’t, well that’s generally more a reflection on them and what’s going on for them in their world. Again, it will probably have very little to do with you.
You’re the expert – own it!
If there was someone better for that presentation, someone else would be doing it. So again, enough with the energy credits being spent on “Am I good enough to do this presentation?” and more energy credits on knowing that you are the expert who can add value to these people and therefore focus on adding said value.
Take deep belly breaths
At any stage, if you feel yourself getting a little stressed, take some deep belly breaths to send a message to your brain that you are safe and there is no need for the stress response. This will get control back of your pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that will help you to think rationally to give an amazing presentation).
If you might be a little prone to nerves as you start the presentation, try rehearsing the first 2-3 minutes so that you don’t have to think too hard about this part while you get into the swing. Even to this day, when I teach a fitness class with new choreography (just another form of presenting), I always make sure my warm-up is fully scripted and rehearsed so that I can just focus on having fun and connecting with people in the class and adding value to their day.
Life’s short, enjoy the process of adding value to others and have some fun with it.
When you focus on adding value to others, you may find that you learn to love the process of presenting as means to add that value.
Of course if you feel your mindset for presenting could use a little tweaking, please feel welcome to contact us.
If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.