Ever felt nervous about speaking publicly? Or in front of your class at school/ Uni?
Yep, me too.
A few years ago I could not speak one, single word in front of a group of people. I could not open my mouth. Now, I am quite alright with that. Sometimes I even enjoy presentations, crazy, I know!
Presentations seem to be this big scary thing that everyone is nervous about, no matter what age or job. There are different levels of nervousness… some may experience some healthy rushes of adrenaline while others are slightly panicked up to the anxiety attack top level. I used to be part of the top level. Most of my anxiety was based on things that could happen, as in, scenarios that my mind came up with before the whole thing even happened. How often did these terrible things that I imagined beforehand actually happen? Never. Not a single time.
Usually the night before the presentation my stomach would be home to a thousand butterflies that were so nervous that they’d make the rest of my body tingle. I would not be able to get a good night’s sleep as my thoughts were racing with thoughts and things that could go wrong. Everything from a black out, to someone hating what I said and telling me so, to just making the wrong pause.
So what happens when you wake up on the morning of your presentation with that chaos in your mind? You get even more nervous. It’s a normal response. You’d rather run than face this big scary monster which will only take up a few moments of your life.
Recently I did an experiment, instead of focussing on all the things that could go wrong, I decided to imagine all the things that would go right. Not in a way that would disappoint me if they didn’t happen but in a way that would soothe my worries and that would help me approach this project with positive energy. When you put positive energy into something you will get positive energy back. It’s simple as that.
How did the positive energy-presentation go? It was amazing! It was probably the best and most fun presentation I have had. I was full of energy and my little audience felt it and was eager to listen and participate.
After that I was on an absolute high (probably from the adrenaline but also because I was proud of myself). Not only did it prove that with a different ‘positive’ approach to presentations you can step out of your comfort zone and actually enjoy speeches or talks, but it also gave me a great confidence boost.
So now whenever I have to speak publicly, no matter how many people are listening, I focus on the positive. I have the opportunity to present my hard work, to share knowledge and opinions, to step out of my comfort zone and to gain some valuable life experience in whatever form that might be.
Try to make the audience your friends, make them happy to listen to you, make them smile.
What they give back in return in form of nods, smiles or encouraging feedback is great.
Remember, no one is out to get you, no one has bad intentions. It’s only the fear in your mind whispering ‘sweet nothings’ in your ear to create some drama for your ego.
But who needs drama when you can be your happy, vibrant self?