“At the end of the 20 minutes I felt exhilarated and a touch relieved to have made a presentation I can be proud of. This is the first time I have been able to do so without spending the previous night and waking hours worrying and fretting and imagining the worst” – the words of a previous client who now spends all his waking hours making presentations to large groups around the world and enjoys it!
For others making a presentation is rated in the top 3 of the most nerve racking things people ever have to do. Speaking one on one is daunting enough to some but speaking to a group of people, whether it is a work or social occasion, is an emotionally challenging prospect for many.
The bottom line is … will I make a fool of myself?
It is important to get the structure and the content right, rehearse etc., but we are often told by people making presentations that although this helps, they are still gripped by nerves. Sometimes to the extent that it prevents them from delivering the messages they want. The bottom line is fear – specifically the fear of making a fool of yourself.
Once upon a time…
The following story illustrates how to remove the fear and replace it with self-confidence.
Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived an enormous giant. He was at least ten feet tall, with a mop of red hair and a beard, and in his hand he carried a mighty axe. Every year on the same day, at the same time, the giant would walk down from the mountains which were his home, to stand outside the castle walls, terrorizing the inhabitants.
‘Come send me your bravest man, and I will fight him,’ the giant would shout, towering over the wall and waving his axe menacingly. ‘Send me someone to fight, or I will knock down your castle walls and kill everyone with my axe.’ And every year, the gate in the castle wall would open slowly and fearfully, and one poor, valiant soul would walk out to face the foe and certain death.
‘Is this the best you can do?’ the giant would laugh mockingly. The poor wretch would stand, mesmerized by the enormity of the giant and the task in hand. Not one person had even managed to draw his sword, before the giant would crush him with his mighty fist, and chop them into tiny pieces.
But then one day, a stranger arrived in the town. ‘Why does everyone here look so frightened and sad?’ he asked a fellow traveler.
‘You haven’t seen the giant yet,’ replied the traveler.
‘What giant?’ asked the stranger, intrigued?
‘Every year, on this very day, the giant arrives and challenges our bravest to a duel. And every year, he slays them exactly where they stand. They don’t even move or draw their swords. It’s as though the giant hypnotizes them.’
‘We’ll see about that.’ said the stranger.
When the giant arrived later that day, he was waiting for him.
‘Send me your bravest man, and I will fight him,’ the giant shouted.
‘I am here,’ said the stranger, throwing open the gate and striding out towards him.
For a moment they stood and faced each other. Although he was still a long way from him, the stranger was instantly struck by the sheer size and shocking appearance of his opponent.
But summoning up all his courage, he started to walk towards the giant, brandishing his sword, and never taking his eyes off that dreadful face with the red hair and the red beard. Suddenly he realised that as he was walking, the giant-rather than appearing larger – actually began to shrink before his very eyes. He stopped and stared. The giant was only five feet tall.
He walked closer to him still then stopped and stared. Now the giant was only two feet tall. He continued walking until he was face to face with the giant, and each step he took, he saw the giant shrink. By now the giant was so small, that he looked up at the stranger. He was only 12 inches tall.
The stranger looked down and whispered to the giant, ‘who are you?’
In timorous fashion, the giant replied, ‘My name is Fear.’
What would you be capable of if you had no fear?
You can get further tips by visiting the web site www.howtobeassertive.com and visiting our Resources page – Presentations You can be Proud of.