When Things Go Wrong
by Barbara Rocha
PAINLESS PUBLIC SPEAKING = CONTROL.
I've been nervous and I've been not nervous, and I can tell you this: Not nervous is better. I used to be darned uncomfortable in front of an audience. I continuously felt the audience was expecting more of me than I could deliver. Maybe you experience that same anxiety.
So what's the secret? How do you get over feeling inadequate? Let's look at a typical scenario.
You're ready to go on. Your heart is pounding, your mouth is dry, your knees are weak; you wish it were over. Suddenly everything you ever imagined might go wrong flashes before your eyes - that upside-down slide, a typographic error, the missing budget numbers, that tricky word you kept tripping over during practice.
"What if I drop my slides again?"
"What if I forget how many units we shipped last quarter?"
"What if they notice my hands shaking?"
STOP! You're losing control because you've stopped being rational. At this moment it's hard to believe you can take charge, but you can.
Pause and breathe. Realize: "This isn't about me. This isn't about showcasing me. This is about connecting the audience with information they want or they need". It's about telling them what happened last quarter so they can confirm their decisions and take action. It's about a new opportunity, a chance to make a difference, what the future holds. It's not about you.
Nervousness is a choice. It's most often an unconscious choice (by default) but a choice nonetheless. It's like the default position on your computer - if you don't change the margins, you get what the computer gives you.
If nervousness is your default position before you speak, you can change that too. Instead of worrying about yourself, think about: 1.) Why the listeners need the information and 2.) How you can help them by giving it to them. The choice is yours. Communicate your ideas - not your fears.