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Idling away some time on LinkedIn recently – or rather, raising my profile and social marketeering as I prefer to call it – I became drawn to a thread where the question asked was ‘What has pushed you out of your comfort zone this week?’

I was not surprised to find that most of the answers related to some form of public speaking.  It still seems to be most folks’ No1 nemesis.  What I was unprepared for was that those contributing certainly shared their individual horror stories – but occasionally went on to add how great they felt once they had conquered this demon.   When they found (often to their own surprise) that their presentation had been well received, words like: euphoric, thrilled, amazing, exhilarating and elated were bandied around.

This gave me pause for thought.  We spend so much time ‘hamster thinking’ (stressing in an endless loop about what could go wrong, much like a hamster on a wheel) and dreading an upcoming task that we feel ill-equipped to tackle, when what we should be doing is redirecting those wasted hours into doing something to mitigate that fear.  Instead of panicking about a presentation why not spend time more usefully by preparing?

‘Well that’s all very well for you to say Sonya – what could we have done instead?

Here are a few ideas:

  • research your subject thoroughly and check your facts
  • find stories or anecdotes to illustrate those facts and bring your speech to life
  • practice your opening and closing sentences so they spring forth fluently
  • check out whether current affairs have any resonance with your subject matter and if so, highlight the correlation
  • time how long your presentation takes to ensure you don’t over-run
  • plan for tricky questions and have an answer for them

If you are unsure how best to go about this, then engage a presentation skills coach to help you craft your presentation, create a slide set or other visuals if necessary, engage your audience and deliver more confidently.

Then you might be in the position one of my clients was in not long ago when I was asking them how they felt after giving a successful talk.  ‘I can’t believe how well it went Sonya, when I got to the end and they were all applauding, I felt absolutely fabulous…. it was … it was …. well it was better than s*x!’   Now far be it from me to cast aspersions about anyone’s private life, but even to my ears this sounded quite dramatic, although of course I was thrilled their confidence levels had increased so exponentially.

However, if you remember the old chestnut that more folk fear public speaking than death, then perhaps it puts it all into perspective.  And if I can help all my clients to feel this good, maybe I should put up my coaching fees!

Your Reaction: If you want to ensure that your upcoming presentation is better than a date with George Clooney or Margot Robbie – or that at least you can feel more comfortable, capable and confident when delivering it, then contact us for additional information or to arrange a chat with one of the Stratus team

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Stratus Associates