When working with a group on a Powerful Presentations Workshop recently, I was struck by how many people suffered from a real lack of confidence and in some cases extreme nervousness about making a presentation. Most of these people were actually good presenters, but they thought they weren’t! Their self perception was very different to the reality!
On the Powerful Presentations course we learn how to analyse the audience, how to plan and structure presentations, how to handle questions, multi-sensory ways of communicating, visual aids, body language and how to use your voice. But probably the most valuable area is building your self-belief and confidence and handling nerves.
The way we approach this, is by looking at the links between Inner Dialogues, Feelings and Behaviour.
Who do you talk to most in the day? Yourself!
All day long we talk to ourselves in our heads about our views on events in our lives. Sometimes our inner dialogues will be positive and sometimes we get caught up in negative self-talk. These Inner Dialogues are incredibly powerful as they affect our feelings, both physical and emotional, and then affect our behaviour.
If we approach a presentation with Negative Inner Dialogues, imagining everything that could go wrong, we will work ourselves up into a state of anxiety, and experience unwanted mental and physical feelings, e.g. feeling anxious, hot and bothered, heart rate raised, breathing shallow, clammy hands, etc. This is our body’s natural response to what we perceive as a “danger situation” – we are preparing ourselves for flight or fight.
So by the time we start the presentation, we may use sub-optimal behaviour – perhaps we sound a bit shaky or we fidget and keep looking back at the screen instead of making eye contact with the audience.
If you want to do a powerful and professional presentation, you need to engage a Sound Inner Dialogue. Face up to any negative thoughts you are having – write them down – and convert them into positive Sound Inner Dialogues. On the course last week, everyone wrote the fears, concerns and negative thoughts they had about their presentations onto post-its. We examined the impact of these and then each person converted them into Sound Inner Dialogues and experienced the real sense of empowerment that this gave them. We then symbolically screwed up the negative inner dialogues and threw them in the bin!
Here is a selection of the Sound Inner Dialogues that the group came up with. Try them for yourself next time you are preparing for a presentation!
- I will talk about areas I feel confident in and so build more confidence.
- I will engage my audience.
- I will be cool and confident.
- My presentation will be so good that everyone will hang on my every word.
- I will be taken seriously as I come across as confident and knowledgeable.
- I am competent and interesting. I know my stuff and can put it across well.
- I will keep the attention of the audience.
- I am well prepared and practised.
- It’s ok to be challenged and not know the answer. I can say “That’s an interesting point / perspective to consider.”
- My voice will be clear and steady.
- I can time my presentation well.
- I will remember my topic and words and speak clearly.
- I will prepare well, get feedback from my manager and deliver a great presentation.
- I will pause for breath!
So by the time the participants made their presentations, they had talked themselves into a positive state of mind and yes, they gave some fantastic talks!