Fake it

The previous post introduced some of the ideas I have around p3, the delivery of your presentation.As this blog is not a stepwise instruction manual I am going to deal with stuff just as it comes up and recently a friend on Twitter @@otolaryngolofox  had a chat around presentation nerves.

I firmly believe that preparation is a major factor in reducing nerves. The speaker who steps out onto the stage confident in their story (p1), happy with their supportive media (p2) and well practised is ready to deliver a great presentation. That doesn’t mean they aren’t nervous.

I recently led two sessions at an educational morning for colleagues. Neither topics were new to me and I had delivered teaching sessions on both on numerous occasions. Between the 2 sessions I nipped out to my car and changed my shirt; I had sweated through my anti-perspirant. It is entirely normal to have concerns about your presentation and your body knows this. What you have to do is control and focus that concern.

In this excellent TED talk Amy Cuddy talks about the power of body language. It is clear to most audiences that the speaker hunched behind the lectern, holding on for dear life at the risk of falling off and speaking as though to a mouse is afraid. What Amy points out is that this behaviour also tells the speaker themself they are afraid. Intriguing by telling the speaker that they are confident, safe and in control, the speaker gains confidence, a feeling of safety and control. And the person to deliver this message is the speaker themselves. Our body language affects our body.

One of the tips to confidence in delivery is to take on the behaviour of a confident person. Not simply as an act but because it materially and chemically affects your body and its response to the stress. In effect, standing confidently gives you confidence. What Amy has scientifically shown is that if in your preparation you take up a “power pose” for two minutes before your big moment there are measurable changes in your body chemistry that allow you to be more confident.

The reality, for those of us who do make presentations on a more regular basis is that we are all frightened before we get up there, armpit dampeningly frightened. Practice and confidence in our preparation helps us and that added to the previous experiences tells our body that despite our fear we can deliver. We also know that we to stand up straight, put our shoulders back, stare (relatively) confidently out into the bright lights, “Ladies and Gentlemen…”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.