Its your time to give the presentation. You got that sinking feeling in your stomach, your heart is pounding so hard you feel like it is pounding out of your chest, the sweat is starting to build up in your axillae… your name is called and as you start to walk to the podium the orange spots arrive. You grasp the podium with enough force that all the blood has been rapidly forced out of your knuckles leaving white twigs grasping the darkened wood. As you begin to speak you forget your main topic points as the words come out like a speeding bullet. Your 5 minute presentation was done in two minutes, the audience is looking at you with a look of o….k…, and you quickly sit back at your seat without asking anyone if there are any questions. This didn’t happen to you??? Wait this happened to me.
I hated public speaking and thought to myself what am I getting into when I volunteered to be a Navy Recruiter. In recruiting school they told us we had to do a 5 minute presentation on the Navy and I had no problem making my notes, preparing my presentation and getting everything ready, and then my name was called.
When we find weakness in ourselves that should become the thing that we want to fix the most, and this was a definite glaring weakness. In order to overcome it, I had to find out why I got this way, and I concluded that I was afraid people knew more than me. What if I messed up and showed another vulnerability? There was no way that I was going to know more than everyone else so in order to alleviate this problem I had to get over my fear of public speaking. The trick… do it and do it often. It was a rough go, however, I volunteered myself for every high school presentation (I knew they didn’t know more about the Navy than me) that was available. Once my comfort level was up from doing that I went to doing all the training lectures at our monthly training, with the eventual goal to get much better….
I know that this is something that is a continuous work and now that I don’t give as much public presentations I may regress. I recently sat a board for a qualification, and as I sat down in the room facing the 5 people that were going to be asking me questions over the next hour, I felt that little bit of nervousness seep in. I introduced myself and felt I was beginning to talk fast. The only way to alleviate this was to be consciencious about what I was doing. I purposely talked slower ( channeled my inner Ben Stein). This slower was actually a normal though. When I ensured that I pronunciated everything I was able to talk at a normal speed. I am not sure if the smile on my face was due a cause, or an effect, but it sure made the board go a lot smoother.
Practice practice practice