How to overcome and challenge Fear

by ltconsulting on October 4, 2011

Our presentation courses are planned to significantly improve presentation skills to allow delegates of all levels to be able to make powerful presentations.  The presentation seminars that we provide are packed full of presentation tips and techniques that demonstrate strategies which will show delegates how to reduce nerves in presentations and to allow them to present confidently when presenting to clients or colleagues. Our presentation skills workshops are designed not just to show delegates how to make a simple presentation: they are designed to show delegates how to create a successful presentation also maximising the applications of PowerPoint to make great presentationsPresentation training will allow delegates to build on their presenting skills; make better presentations; enjoy making presentations and teach delegates how to present successfully.  Delegates who have taken our Presentation Courses have expressed how much they enjoyed the variety in our presentation skills training and now feel confident to present in any situation.

Fear

A distressing emotion aroused by an impending pain, danger or evil; or by the illusion of such.

According to some surveys, presenting before a group is a leading fear. Often people feel anxious that they will make embarrassing mistakes, damage their careers, forget what they are going to say, look nervous, sound boring, be challenged or be attacked. These fears can be accompanied by accelerated breathing; increased heart rate; dry mouth; sweating; upset stomach and shaking hands, arms and legs.

No matter what nervous symptoms you experience before your presentation, you’re normal and not alone! The secret is to control nervousness – not eliminate it.

Physical stress reducers

  • Deep breathing
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Isometric exercises
  • Moving and gesturing
  • Eye contact

Psychological stress reducers

  • Acceptance/surrender to it
  • Positive attitude
  • Affirmation
  • Visualisation
  • Worst-case/best-case scenario
  • Preparation
  • Practice

Suggestions for Overcoming Fear of Speaking before a Group

  1.  Know the material well (be an expert).
  2.  Practise your presentation (possibly video yourself).
  3.  Use involvement techniques (participation).
  4.  Establish your credibility early to the group – let them know of your .history, track record etc.
  5.  Use eye contact to establish rapport.
  6.  Anticipate potential problems (and prepare probable actions/responses).
  7.  Check the facilities and AV equipment in advance.
  8.  Obtain information about the group in advance (through observation or questionnaire).
  9.  Convince yourself to relax (breathe deeply; meditate; talk to yourself).
  10.  Prepare an outline and follow it.
  11.  Manage your appearance (dress comfortably and appropriately).
  12.  Rest so that you are physically and psychologically alert.
  13.  Imagine the audience in a silly situation, e.g. with big ears or wearing pyjama.
  14.  Use your own style (don’t imitate someone else).
  15.  Use your own words (don’t read).
  16.  Put yourself in your trainees’ shoes (they’re asking, “What’s in it for me?”).
  17.  Assume they are on your side (they won’t necessarily be antagonistic or hostile).
  18.  Provide an overview of the presentation (state the end aims and objectives).
  19.  Accept some fears as being good (energising stress vs. destructive).
  20.  Introduce yourself to the group in advance (via a social context).
  21.  Identify your fears, categorise them as controllable or uncontrollable, and confront them.
  22.  Give special emphasis to the first two-five minutes.
  23.  Visualise yourself as a good speaker (self-fulfilling prophecy).
  24.  Practice responses to tough questions or situations.

Exercise

Make stress work for you – not against you. Make a list of other stress reducers which will work for you.

Portraying Confidence

Eye Contact

  • You will connect with your listeners when you look at them. You’ll feel more relaxed, less isolated and your audience will have more confidence in you
  • Make positive eye-contact. Keep regular eye-contact with the whole of your audience, but don’t stare at any one individual as this can be perceived as intimidating.
  • Don’t present to just one person and exclude all others. This happens when you’re nervous and you focus on the only person in the group who’s smiling at you, or you focus all of your attention to the most important person in the group, e.g. MD or key decision maker.
  • With a small group: focus on each person but for no more than two seconds.
  • With a large group: use the ‘Z’ approach in which you scan the audience in a Z shape, starting at back left and finishing at front right.
  • Pick out several friendly faces, address each person and move on.

Gestures

They should be varied and appropriate for the meaning you are conveying. They should support your words and not detract from them.

Facial Expressions and Gestures

They can affect how you are perceived by others and how they react to you.

  • Practise smiling and using friendly expressions. Get a happy medium – you don’t want to scowl or look too serious, but you don’t want to look inane either.
  • Make sure your gestures, movements or facial expressions are natural. Nerves can make us exaggerate our body language which creates the wrong effect.
  • Avoid tense facial muscles; constant smiling or overuse of poker face

Hand Gestures

  • Use open gestures; these are hand gestures made with up-turned open palms.
  • Strong hand gestures show confidence and conviction in your subject.
  • Keep your hand gestures in an area about 18” diameter in front of you to ensure you don’t use wild, extravagant or theatrical gestures.
  • Ensure you have a comfortable position for your hands that they can return to after gesturing. This allows you to make gestures and ‘bring your hands home’ – helpful if, as a result of stress, you have wandering hands.
  • Develop 2 or 3 strong, consistent hand gestures and practice using these in combination with a strong facial expression and strong vocal delivery to give your presentation that ‘extra edge’. Very strong presenters use this technique to build their credibility.

Posture and Body Movement

  • Your posture is closely linked to the mood of the audience. If you’re too stiff, your listeners will be uncomfortable. If you’re too relaxed, your listeners can become too relaxed and lose interest.
  • Practice your stance. Stand with your feet less than shoulder width apart. Don’t lean into the audience, but don’t turn your body away either.
  • Use an open posture. Stand upright and not slouched. Keep your shoulders back but keep them relaxed. Don’t fold your arms across your body, or put your hands across your face. Never put your hands in your pockets. Point your feet at the audience with the weight evenly distributed.
  • If you can, take the opportunity to see yourself perform on video. This is a useful way of getting a critical look at the body language you are using and practise improvements.

Dress

The way you dress can add to or subtract from your visual image.

Basic principles:

  • Dress appropriately for your audience
  • Be conservative and aim for a neat and tailored look
  • Emphasise quality in your dress sense.

Excellent presentation skills give you a platform to demonstrate your sales skills, leadership qualities, communication skills, influencing abilities and promotion potential. Our objective over the two days is to teach you the skills and techniques that will give you both the confidence and competence to enjoy making presentations in all situations. We will be giving action points to sharpen your image; reduce nerves; allow you to appear both confident and competent and increase your credibility in the eyes of colleagues and clients.

PowerPoint presentation skills, Advanced Presentation skills and Presentation skills are three of the courses trained by Total Success Training, a training consultancy specialising in communication training and management skills in London and throughout the UK. Other related courses include sales presentation skills, training the trainer, assertiveness skills, selling skills, negotiation skills and communication skills for managers. Click here if you need more information regarding presentation skills course information or contact Total Success who will be delighted to talk to you via e-mail.

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