I'd Rather Die: Getting our Presentation Butterflies to Fly in Formation

I thought long and hard about what I would share with you today.   A hugely useful exercise, revisiting old speeches, training notes and courses I’d delivered, I could easily create a week long course with all the material I have ... and so much on t’internet about presenting, how to  write a speech, linguistics, body language that you can discover for yourself.  So, I thought about MY stake in the ground for this article and it wasn’t about teaching, informing, educating it was about using presentations to fulfil our potential as business people and human beings. Building confidence to bring success.


1.        As many of you know I am a Co-Active coach working with business owners to fulfil their potential – “Passionate People with a Mission”.  There is nothing more interesting, exciting, inspiring and engaging than hearing someone talk about their passion. I know about my readers and you have important work to do in the world. If the world doesn’t get access to the skills and knowledge you have it will be a poorer place ... It is NOT OK with me if some other person with less than an ounce of our talent steps forward and grab people’s attention because we hesitated, because we didn’t take that opportunity to speak, because we were afraid.


·         Today, together, I want us to take a step towards building our confidence which brings success. Whether it’s a full-blown terror or a little niggle, most of us are a little afraid of public speaking. My Myers Briggs came back that I am a 98% extrovert ... and even I get nervous before I present. A long time ago, when I did a lot of acting, along with Speech and Drama exams and competitions, I have been known to be physically sick before going on stage.


·         We’re not alone.  Apparently the most common fear, according to research on the keyword searched most frequently on Google to find information on the topic, is flying and the second is public speaking. Public speaking is more scary than dying!!


So we all have a Speaking gremlin, self-limiting beliefs, that voice in our head which stops us being all we can be, that keeps us small, that represents the views and opinions of other well meaning people from our past who were afraid for us.  My presenting Gremlin is called Fanella Fanakapanz, no really, this was a pet name my Dad had for me when I was a kid! My Gremlin Fanella Fanakapanz is a nervous wreck ... breathy, panicky, loud and hysterical ... wide eyed and anxious ... “I can’t, I’m going to forget, I’ll be rubbish and they’ll hate me ...”  As long as I can notice myself going into Fanella mode I can laugh – a belly laugh , not hysterical laugh, which instantly relaxes me and grounds me.


EXERCISE: So, what I want you to do now is think about speaking and listen to what your gremlin has to say.

·         What sort of things does it say? Write it down ...

·         What does it sound like? Become familiar with the tone.

·         Try and draw a picture of the gremlin and be clear how DIFFERENT it is from you.

·         Notice their body shape as they are describing it – how are they sitting?

·         Come up with a name for the gremlin and put it in the label.

Now you have a visual and auditory representation of your fear of speaking.  This, in neuroscience terms is fear, coming from your amygdela - your caveman or lizard brain.  If we can just notice when this gremlin pops up we can separate ourselves from it long enough to be in our prefrontal cortex, rational thought and allowing us to CHOOSE our behaviour or emotional response more easily. We can then take control, use the adrenaline to sharpen our thinking, bring our butterflies into formation and push our boundaries by getting our message out into the world!

Let me know if you'd like some help with this.