I have to give a presentation next week and I am extremely nervous about it. I had addressed a crowd before but I got so nervous that I goofed up and forgot a lot of what I had to say. This incident seems to be haunting me again and I can’t seem to get over it, even though it will be almost two years now. Any suggestions on how I can get through this?
Thank you for your email and sharing your situation with me. Let me start by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” I can’t imagine how terrifying an experience it must have been almost two years ago, but guess what? You still survived it. Experience is one of our best teachers. Don’t let the fear of the past control the joy of tomorrow.
Speaking in public does come more naturally to some people and the fact that you’ve been selected to make a presentation implies that you do have an edge over the others and that should be a thought to hold on to.
Have you ever tried making flashcards? These are sometimes useful and can help you remember but if not used during practise sessions, they can prove to be the enemy at the final performance.
When preparing for a presentation, it is important to know your audience. This can guide you with the content and context for your presentation. Use humour where possible – it never killed anyone in the past. Try to personalise the content a little; your passion and beliefs will show through your body language. Keep it very simple. The more complicated you make it, the easier are your chances of losing your audience’s attention as well as your own train of thought.
Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. Remember that practise makes perfect or something quite close to it at least. Being a little nervous is good. Fear is the brains way of saying there is something for you to overcome. Use positive self-statements like, “I can do this / I got this”.
Believe you can and you will be amazed as to how you did it! All the best.
My confidence level over the years has dropped down to its lowest. I am a very sensitive person and take what people say to me very personally. Over the years, my family has been saying mean things to me as my performance at school has been going down. They were hoping that it would instead motivate me to do better but it’s been working in reverse. Every time I tried to work hard, I’d think of what they said the last time and get lost in those thoughts and feelings, making way for history to repeat itself. I don’t know how to get back to my old self and achieve my goals anymore. I feel so worthless. Help.
Thank you for writing in and discussing your feelings with me. Feelings are just like waves, let them come and go. Sometimes all you need to do is forget what you feel and remind yourself of what you deserve and move towards it.
It is really hard to hear the people you love tell you things that you’d never want to hear or feel (some of which won’t even be true). But when people hurt you with their words and actions, think of them as sandpaper. They scratch and hurt you but later you will be the one shining and polished. When you know your worth, nobody can make you feel worthless. It is what you think of yourself that counts.
Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for. Believe in yourself. When you think you can and when you think you can’t, you are right. Choose what you think very carefully. Life never gets easier, you just get stronger. Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Go ahead and fill it with faith, positivity and love. When life puts you through the next test, don’t say “Why me?” say “Try me”. Work hard and let your success speak the next time. Shine on!
‘It is not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority. It is necessary.’
– Mandy Hale
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Until next time, stay safe and (mentally) positive (only)!
(The columnist is psychologist and counsellor, currently working as a school counsellor.)