Why People Have a Fear of Presenting

Filed Under (NLP coaching for artists, NLP coaching for retail, NLP life coaching) on 08-07-2023

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Fear of presenting can devastate people. Immensely many people fight it meeting by meeting and don’t know where it comes from and why it hits them so much. Every professional person knows someone who has a strong fear of presenting if he himself doesn’t have the fear. All the people who have this fear try to figure out where it comes from and mainly how to overcome it forever. So these tips will definitely help.

Fear of presenting comes from a positive intention

The intention is responsibility to do things well. In performing arts the fear of presenting is called stage fright. It’s the same thing. The intention is responsibility to do things well. When an artist is to perform in front of people who came to his performance for money or for free, the artist feels responsibility to give the audience a good experience. When a professional in the corporate world presents facts at a meeting, he feels responsibility to deliver the facts and agenda well so that his listeners understand correctly and act in a desired direction.

Doing things well is another intention of the fear of presenting. Every decent adult wants to do things well and right. The highest grade of doing things well is perfectionism. Most decent adults want others to see them in the best light. We want to show that we know, that we’re competent. We want to be credible and taken seriously. But the flip side of wanting to be perfect is that when we’re not perfect, we can block ourselves. One wrong word can totally derail us in stress. Sounds familiar? Perhaps…

Other factors that play a role in the fear of presenting

Some people are born performers. They thrive on being the centre of attention. Others are the opposite – they hate being the centre of attention. Hence if a person who hates being the centre of attention is to present at a meeting, of course s/he will feel stressed by the sheer fact that s/he suddenly must be the centre of attention whether s/he likes it or not! Just the words “introduce yourselves” at the beginning of meetings can trigger hellish stress, because they directly invite one to be the centre of attention. And one will be because all eyes will be on him and all ears will wait to hear the introduction.

The second factor is how prepared one feels. A performing artist can prepare for a performance for years and feel supremely prepared until the moment when he is to step on the stage. Yet at the moment of having to step on the stage when he feels stage fright he never feels 100% prepared. It’s the nature of the beast, it’s a natural manifestation of the responsibility to give a good performance. It is therefore impossible to influence, manipulate, correct, suppress, or eliminate.

The only remedy is to prepare to really 100%. After all, preparation is a true mark of a professional, and the more prepared one is, the better he will handle mistakes, surprises, and blocks in stress. So always prepare as well as you possibly can. If you’re a student, this advice will stand you in good stead for exams! Students are always immensely afraid of exams because they don’t study enough to feel prepared!

The third factor is adrenaline. Many people report that they get hot in the body when they have to present at meetings. This is simply the result of an adrenaline rush. Public speaking raises adrenaline big time. So getting hot is a natural reaction. And a necessary one, because when we get hot, we start sweating. Sweat is a cooling mechanism which balances the adrenaline rush.

The fourth factor of the fear of presenting is the surprise element. What if someone drops something and the drop makes such a loud bang that we get completely distracted and won’t know where we stopped in stress? Or what if someone interrupts us and the interruption derails us? Alternatively what if someone asks a question to which we won’t know the answer even when we feel prepared? ┬áThere’re unforeseeable elements in every situation. And surprises are hard to handle because we cannot prepare for them. So here comes improvisation versus interpretation.

Interpretation is following exact text, choreography, wording, notation, agenda. We interpret what someone composed. Improvisation is making things up from our expertise and experience. Interpretation is usually memorised. We have to memorise the text, wording, agenda, dance, piece of music. If the memory fails, we will be lost… until we find ourselves and pick it up somewhere. In contrast, when we improvise, we don’t feel the stress of what might happen if the memory fails… We don’t have to be afraid of how we’ll handle the situation. We make things up from expertise and experience. And while making things up we sometimes even get brilliant insights! So we always have something to keep us grounded in knowing.

So how to handle the fear of presenting?

  1. If you often present at meetings, accept that you will be the centre of attention for the time when you present. It is a fact which you can’t avoid, so accept it instead of fighting it. Fighting or wanting to avoid it won’t avoid it and will only stress you out. Even if you don’t like being the centre of attention, experiment with imagining that you’re an actor and present as if you were the actor. This plus knowing that you will go back to your normal self after the meeting will definitely help.
  2. Expect a certain degree of stage fright. It’s that natural reminder of responsibility to deliver the best you can. Instead of fighting it embrace it as a gift and treat it as an advisor. It’s a natural phenomenon, it will always be with you to a degree. You’ll never completely get rid of it, so what’s the point in fighting it? Now you know that it’s there for good reasons.
  3. Always prepare as well as you possibly can. Even if you may not feel like preparing, don’t cut corners, because it is the law of life that the cut corners will come to haunt you. You won’t know how to react to the question out of the blue etc. if you don’t prepare well.
  4. Be as good at your profession as you possibly can. Not cutting corners of preparing will get you there by a great deal! And always aspire to being the best, because the best have the most experience. The most experience predisposes one to the highest expertise. And the highest expertise is the best cure against surprises. When we’re not experienced and expert enough, things easily surprise us. Conversely few things will surprise a seasoned expert. Plus when you’re experienced experts, people will take you seriously. Isn’t that what every professional wants?
  5. Expect the adrenaline rush and take it as such. Just think of the bodily heat as the result of an adrenaline rush, not the result of stress. And thank god for the heat, because you can now also think of the resulting sweat as a cooling mechanism with which the body balances the heat of the adrenaline rush!
  6. Concentrate on putting the main point across even if the words aren’t to be perfect. People want to hear the main points. They don’t care about how good your wording is. This applies especially if you must present in a foreign language which you don’t know perfectly. People don’t care about the fact that you don’t know the exact word. Find other simpler words to describe the exact word or phrase which you know that exists in the foreign language, but you don’t know. ┬áPeople want to hear the point of the content.

…and the best for last…

7. bear in mind that others won’t see what you feel. They’ll see you from outside and mainly concentrate on the content of what you say. There will be people who will see that you are nervous. So what? They’ll probably see that you’re nervous because they feel exactly what they see you feeling when they present! And that’s also exactly why they’ll empathise, not criticise. The rest will not even notice your nerves. They’ll take your presenting on the face value and concentrate on the content of what you say.

8. Be human! If you get stuck, say that you’re nervous or forgot what you wanted to say or forgot the word… Or turn the fact that you’re stuck into humour. Say something funny or pull a face that will make people laugh. Who says that the corporate world has to be stiff and cold? Even corporate professionals are human beings who like to laugh. And I guarantee you that if you make them laugh, you’ll make them quickly forget about your nerves. And they’ll very likely remember how you made them laugh at the meeting!

If you feel that despite me having presented the advice in this article to perfection you’d like some NLP coaching on the fear of presenting, I’m here for you.

 

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