Calm your inner crazy person!
You may be sitting there thinking "Simon, I don't have an inner crazy person", well, that voice that just said that to you - THAT's your inner crazy person! Don't get me wrong, it's not always crazy, but when it is, it can make presenting well a much bigger challenge than it needs to be. Read on to see how, within minutes, you can massively increase your confidence.
How is it crazy?
Think back to a time when you were lacking a bit of confidence, did these types of statements flow through your mind at any point?
"They are never going to listen to me"
"There's no way I can do this"
"I'm going to freeze in front of them"
"Nothing's going to go the way I want it to"
"If this doesn't go well I'm going to be in so much trouble"
I'm guessing these, or ones like it, probably did pop into your head. Now, if you take a closer, objective, look at these, you will soon realise that these are not the statements of a sound mind. These types of statements are generally not rooted in reality, and as such, are crazy! However, the problem comes when we start to believe them!
How to calm it
First up, you've got to gain awareness of what's going on in your head. Often, we're reacting to all this subconscious negative stuff without ever really getting to grips with exactly what is being said. So, any time you're getting a bit nervous or stressed about something, take a minute or two to really identify what it is you're actually saying to yourself. Ideally, write this down so it's out of your head and on a bit of paper (you're probably going to want to keep that piece of paper to yourself though, and maybe shred it afterwards - no one else needs to know you're crazy!). Even this act alone may start to help, as by making your subconscious mutterings known explicitly you may find that you can already see their absurdity.
Once you have your crazy mutterings written down (there might just be one that is playing like a theme tune, or you might have a few like the list above), you can then apply your objective mind to each of them and assess their credibility. The type of questions I would suggest you use would be the following:
Is that REALLY true?
- What are you basing that on?
- Has that happened every time you've made a presentation?
- Have you had an experience where, in fact, the opposite has happened?
- Does it actually have to be 100% perfect? Has anything, ever, been 100% perfect?!
The above is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully you get the picture. In essence, we're using our conscious powers of logical reasoning to help our subconscious mind calm down, and stop panicking about things that are very unlikely to happen.
Replace the crazy with logic
By this point, hopefully you will already be feeling much better about the prospect of giving your presentation (or doing anything else you're stressed about). However, there's one final step you can do that should cement your fledgling confidence. Once you've dispelled the craziness of your original thoughts, move on to creating alternative statements that are based on reality and optimism (although don't go crazy the other way - unbridled optimism is just as bad!). For instance "They're never going to listen to me" might turn into "If I prepare well and deliver a presentation that's focussed on them, there's every chance they will be engaged with what I'm saying". Or "There's no way I can do this" might become "I'm going to give this my all, and treat it as a learning experience which will boost my confidence for next time". Your own versions of these new statements might be completely different to mine, and that's fine. What matters is that you can replace your original crazy statement with a logical one that you can believe in.
My last suggestion is to take a moment after the presentation and review how you did compared to your statements. Firstly, remind your crazy self of how wrong it was (probably do this in your head and not out loud!), and then make a mental note of anything that happened that went well, which of course will be your 'logical ammo' for the next time your crazy person starts to speak!