Presenting can be stressful but as much as you would happily avoid making a presentation, it is a necessary stepping stone to increased responsibility and recognition. A meeting where you are being asked to present (e.g. at an offsite or large gathering) may also denote your increased visibility, trustworthiness and reputation in an organization.
Learning about the relationship between anxiety and excitement is a key milestone in developing your presentation skills.
Once you understand how to leave anxiety behind, a new world opens up where you can in fact enjoy or even volunteer to make presentations!
Turning anxiety into excitement prior to making a presentation follows the process below:
–First, remember that our bodies react in the exact same way to both anxiety and excitement. Shaky voice, sweaty palms, heart racing…all those reactions are common for both anxiety and excitement. The difference will be made by how our mind interprets those signs.
– Second, think about how you would feel for a second, if you were able to put those feelings of nervousness aside. Will you continue to be afraid or will you in fact feel excited about the opportunity at hand, to share insights, to present…? By turning the excitement button on, instead of amplifying your fears, you will trick your brain into taking it all in as a positive versus a “fight or flight” experience.
– Third, as you are identifying how excited you are and why, state it out loud or mentally. For instance “I’m excited to share my findings in…” means you are seeing yourself doing it. This is in fact akin to visualization, a technique widely used in sports psychology by world class athletes. Furthermore, in the process of focusing on what you are excited about, it becomes less about you and more about the opportunity and journey ahead, or how you might be of service to someone or something… This diminishes what phycologists refer to as the spotlight effect, a social anxiety that is likely to occur when people overestimate how much other people are paying attention to them – “although one is the center of one’s own world, one is not the center of everyone else’s“.
The journey to great communication and presentation skills may be a long one. Great public speakers are made, not born.
However, once you learn how to turn nervousness into excitement, you are graduating to a new level of public speaking and communication skills. Over time and with practice, you will master this transition in a matter of minutes or seconds. It becomes second nature, a liberating step and fertile ground for future breakthroughs.
I would love to hear from you as you practice the above, applicable by the way to any situation you feel nervous about, like a presentation, call or meeting.