You and 200 million others. If we’re all afraid, why do we let the anticipation eat us up so bad? We have potential for both rational or irrational thoughts. We basically have predispositions for self growth and happiness or self destruction, self blame, procrastination, and avoidance. What fuels these irrational thoughts is the repetition of this way of thinking – you know when you put that rude comment on replay in your head. We tend to internalize these negative thoughts and eventually believe them. This has to be true, I mean I have thought this way for so long.
Humans tend to create these notions that lead to self-defeat. For example, “I must do well”, “I need the approval of others”, “I can’t fail”, “I have to be good at this, I was a communication major.” Typically, people that let the self-defeating irrational thoughts dominate them and let simple events trigger this process. Keep in mind, it’s a presentation, it’s not the end of the world. It’s all about perspective. Change the way you think, and change the way you perform. Think about this, it’s 4 minutes of your 50 minute meeting of your 8 hour work day of your 24 hour day. Whatever your speech length, you can’t let your mind get the best of you. Business professionals, students, and musicians can benefit from the ideas of sport or performance psychology.
We tend to focus on the worse case scenarios. We create these irrational beliefs that will occur if we don’t do well. The reality of it is, most people aren’t paying attention and they’d be just as worried if they were in the hot seat.
So ask yourself what are you afraid of? “I will make mistakes”, “I will look dumb”, “No one will like me.” If you don’t make the sale, it may be upsetting, but it isn’t awful, it’s just inconvenient. Use logical questions to yourself after each fear you state you have. Will people laugh at me or with me? Will I look dumb or will I make others comfortable that someone else messed up before they have to go? Learn how to use new statements. Even if you do mess up, you aren’t foolish. Trust me no matter the size of the audience, half of them are asking themselves what they’re eating for lunch and when will we get out of here. Remember if you draw attention to your small mistake by saying, “I’m sorry” or “let me start over” or “wait” you’re creating incentive: now people want to listen, what’s going to happen next? Keep going and the majority will watch as your presentation flows smoothly. Practice, practice, practice, often overlooked, but whether you’re a good speaker or not, if you practice what’s coming next you’re preparing to avoid those “ums” and “waits”.
So to dispute your irrational way of looking at speeches, recognize your “musts”, “self doubts”, “have to’s”. Then question your way of determining their worth. Is it worth this anxiety and torture you put yourself through? Take the importance down a notch. Then restructure. Replace those faulty thoughts with productive thoughts. It doesn’t have to be fake like, I’m going to nail this, but it can be I will do well. Step back and challenge your perspective.