The fear of public speaking is one of the most common challenges we see with clients and students.
The lack of preparation is one of the biggest reasons why we struggle or fail in our presentations.
It’s a relatively simple problem to fix. Just take 10 or 30 minutes to practice at some point before actually getting at the front of that room.
So why don’t we do it?
In a word: fear.
The presentation scares us.
The prospect of standing in front of a group, opening ourselves to judgment and criticism, making our ideas and ourselves vulnerable, is intimidating.
The natural reflex whenever we are faced with something intimidating or scary is to avoid it.
As long as we put off the presentation, and avoid that whole situation (even in a simulation), we feel protected.
But ironically, because we have failed to prepare, we do a bad presentation.
This poor performance then reinforces the negative feelings our brain associates with presenting, and then the fear starts all over again: “The last time I did this, I sucked, so I don’t want to do it again.”
We dread the next presentation, so once again, we avoid it, put it off and fail to prepare. Which ensures our poor performance next time.
This vicious cycle reinforces itself over and over again… until we break it.
The simplest way to break the cycle is to start preparing and rehearsing. Just bite the bullet and do it.
When you start rehearsing (either alone or with a friend), after an initial moment of awkwardness or discomfort, you will quickly get into a groove.
Your brain will realize “hey, it’s ok if I mess up because this is just a simulation.” You will feel more relaxed and more free to experiment and try things out: different voice tone, different body positioning and hand gestures, emphasizing different words or phrases, and so on.
With repeated practice you will not only perfect the presentation itself, but you will feel much more comfortable with the notion of getting in front of people and talking.
It won’t be as intimidating and you might even start to look forward to it.
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