An excerpt from Chapter 4: Giving Your Presentation focused on managing anxiety before you begin speaking.
Hopefully, with all the work you’ve already done to prepare for your presentation, you are feeling confident about the big day. As the presentation approaches, however, you may find yourself feeling a little uncertain. The anxiety management strategies in this section will help you overcome any nerves that could undermine your managerial authority.
A tried-and-true method often utilized by professional athletes, success visualization calms and reminds you that an impressive, effective presentation is within your reach. When anxiety threatens to get the better of you, mentally rehearse your presentation, imagining the successful delivery of every word, gesture, demonstration and answer. Visualize what you will look like and feel like as you confidently move about the room, communicating your vision, inspiring your team and showcasing your leadership capabilities.
Visualize Worst-Case Scenarios
Another approach to combating nerves and uncertainty is imagining potential presentation flaws or set-backs while mentally rehearsing your presentation. Similar to the Conquer Your Fears exercise in Chapter 1, visualizing worst-case scenarios allows you to mentally plan for potential problems, recognize that they aren’t that threatening, and develop a strategy for coping with them should they arise.
What is causing you the most anxiety as the presentation draws near? Name that fear, and then consider what the likely outcomes are if it actually happened. As you encounter each imaginary set-back, visualize yourself rising to the challenge, addressing the problem, and successfully continuing with your presentation.
By igniting and relying on your problem-solving skills, you’ll be able to re-conceptualize the presentation as a hands-on, pragmatic project and team-building activity instead of merely a public-speaking task.
Live speaking is always rife with uncertainty, but you can manage anxiety by taking control of all the things within your power.
Using the advice and strategies in this book, you’ve already exercised a considerable amount of control through planning, developing and practicing your presentation. In the last 24 hours before you are scheduled to speak, make a detailed checklist of everything you’ll need to bring and do to deliver a confident, successful presentation.
For example, the day before the presentation you should gather all the materials and tools you’ll need (or anticipate needing) in one convenient place. Organize your notes, visual aids and hand-outs in chronological order. Include extra copies as back-ups or in case additional people decide to attend the presentation at the last minute. Likewise, include both an electronic and hard copy of your presentation so you’ll be prepared to share your content no matter what technological disasters may befall you. Among other things, you should also select and try on your clothing, practice your presentation, review your schedule for the following day and get a reasonable amount of sleep.
On the day of the presentation, set the stage for success. Activities should include running a thorough technology check, energizing your body with proper nutrition and warding off a dry throat or mouth with a strategically placed source of water. You may also want to include one or two visualization exercises on your list.
Immediately before you begin speaking, meet your team and other audience members at the door, welcoming them and thanking them for their attendance. Your list should also include reminders to prepare your voice and collect your thoughts.
For more presentation tips and techniques, get The Manager’s Guide to Presentations from Impackt Publishing.
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