Create your own ‘what if?’ plan to overcome public speaking nerves!

Why are you nervous about your presentation?

Because I think XXX might happen…

The majority of our fears about public speaking arise because we imagine negative things happening when we stand up to speak.

  • We lose our voice
  • The projector breaks
  • Someone at the back of the room heckles us.

These things are unlikely to happen 9 times out of 10, but our nervous, negative mind tells us that they are a certainty. Before we know it, we believe we can’t possibly succeed.

A great way to overcome our inner ‘negative Nigel’ is to create a simple ‘what if?’ plan to account for all of the terrible things that might happen. It’s a simple checklist of solutions to put our mind at rest. Here’s how it works…

Grab a blank sheet of A4 paper and draw three columns on it. Give the columns the following headings, from left to right:

  • What I fear will happen
  • What I can do before my presentation to avoid this happening
  • How I can handle this if it happens during my presentation

List all of your fears in the first column, and then complete the remaining two columns with your masterplans for ensuring those things don’t happen. Here’s an example for my own favourite fear, ‘what happens if I forget what I have to say?’.

What I fear will happenI get halfway through my speech and forget where I am and what I want to say next. I freeze!

What I can do before my presentation to avoid this happeningrehearse lots, make notes and ensure that they are clear so that I can use them during my presentation, have a good night’s sleep before my presentation, drink enough water on the morning of my presentation.

How I can handle this if it happens during my presentationconsult my clear notes, prepare a line such as ‘and they said there would be no after effects from when I was dropped on my head as a baby’ to make light of the situation whilst I find my place, have a glass of water to hand to sip on whilst I regain where I was.

Once you’ve made your ‘what if?’ list, use it as a checklist before your next big speech or presentation to guide your preparation and your delivery on the day. I bet those things you imagined don’t look so scary now that they’re down on paper, do they?

Creating ‘what if?’ checklists is just one part of the public speaking training that I deliver on a daily basis. If you’d like to talk more about your presentation skills and public speaking training requirements (and even have me design and deliver an original course for your business) please contact me here.

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