by Peter Watts
When I train presenters, I sometimes start by offering each participant a whip and a five minute break; if anyone’s in the mood they can pop outside and give themselves a good thrashing. “Go ahead, have fun!”
Of course, participants greet this suggestion as ludicrous. So why then do so many of us insist on giving ourselves the most monumental thrashing after every presentation?
“I messed that up” <Thwack>
“I did it all wrong” <Thwack>
“It was dreadful, I did nothing right” <Thwack, Thwack, Thwack>
While it’s important post-presentation, to reflect on how we can improve our skills, many of us undertake this with a harsh, cruel judgement.
As you finish one presentation, you mentally set yourself up for the next. Reflect on what you did well, and you build confidence; internalize failure and you build a barrier against ever presenting again.
Professional coaching helps you to focus on success, followed by reflection on areas for improvement. The coach’s role is to encourage you forward by ensuring improvement points are noted while confidence is built.
Often though, professional coaching isn’t available post-presentation. No-one offers feedback except ourselves, through the filter of our own judgement, which is a severe critic; “I botched that up, I messed up this, I should have done that….”
What gets neglected is “What did I do well? What am I proud of?”
Have the discipline after each presentation to reflect on what was GREAT! Be generous to yourself and focus on what you are proud of. You made an investment of time, energy, and courage to stand up and make that presentation. Now give yourself return on investment. It’s not only fair, it’s essential!
For more ideas on how to control presentation nerves, try the following Presenters’s Blog posts: