Hear the sound of your self-esteem. Coach accordingly

by Peter Watts

I became aware of a damp patch.

Inevitable with a Victorian cottage. Moisture slowly creeping up an outside wall. Tell-tale watermarks on plaster in the hall.

Months of contractor confusion led to my hiring an independent surveyor to take charge. He promptly nailed the source of all my problems as being a tiny pipe, steadily and slowly dip drip dripping beneath a floor.

Seemingly tiny little leaks of self-esteem can have exactly the same effect on our confidence.

The most damaging are those hidden beneath the floor-boards of our bravado; the inner comments we make to ourselves when offered the chance to take on new challenges.

  • “I’m no good at x”
  • “I’ll screw it up if I dare to have a go at y”
  • “I’ve not got what it takes for z”

Over months and years, those drips become a damp-spreading mantra, soaking foundations. Our confidence water-logs from within.

My surveyor told me that to identify a hidden leak it’s important to listen both to what you can hear, and to what you can’t.

Listen for noises that shouldn’t be there (in my watery case, an almost inaudible hissing sound), and then listen for the sounds that are missing, such as the high pressure surge of water rushing through a healthy system.

  • As a presenter, do you suffer a low level hiss of negative internal criticism?
  • After speaking, how clearly can you hear your that healthy surge of success?

Maintaining a constructive inner-dialogue is essential presenter care-and-maintenance. Self-coaching can be one way to do this, but sometimes problems require the help of an external expert for true diagnosis.

Professional coaching assists presenters at all stages of their careers, in the same way that my professional surveyor was able to help me.

It’s well worth taking the time to fix those little leaks.

At the end of the day, nobody enjoys a presentation from a damp-patch.

I think, therefore I am: Part of “Presentation Nerves”

Cogito Ergo sum

by Peter Watts

The philosopher Rene Descartes said “I think, therefore I am”. For presenters, this line of wisdom is extended to:

“I am what I think”

Start a presentation thinking “I’m confident and I’m prepared”, and your session unfolds in accordance with that thought. Nerves diminish, and you move easily from point to point. Go into a presentation thinking “I don’t want to do this and I can’t remember what I’m meant to be talking about”, and you’ll find that this too will come to pass!

What we tell ourselves is our reality before a presentation, all too easily becomes our reality during the presentation.

This is the same world as that inhabited by professional athletes. What words go through the mind of an athlete as they line-up at the start of a race?Words that focus on victory, or words that focus on defeat?

If an athlete focussed on the message “I’m going to come out of these blocks, surge forward ten steps, and then trip over my own feet and go flat on my face” this self-destructive mantra would become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Professional sports people visualise success and maintain a continuous inner-dialogue that supports that vision. As presenters we have that same inner dialogue.

What is yours telling you about presenting? Is it positive or negative? Passionate or pessimistic?

Be aware of what your inner voice is telling you. Challenge negatives and praise positives. If the voice predicts doom, then challenge back with success. If the voice says “You’re going to fail”, then say back “I’m going to succeed!”

Remember pro-athletes and what works for them. The same sports psychology techniques also work for us!

“I think therefore I am”

I am therefore, what I think

For more ideas on how to control presentation nerves, try the following Presenters’s Blog posts:

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