This article outlines the essential steps and thinking strategies to overcome fear of presenting at work so that you give presentations with comfort and ease at workplace. In essence, this article will guide you to see presentation as a non-threatening event, overcome stage fear, and become comfortable with the thought of presenting at workplace. 

3 Steps to overcome fear of presenting at work

As part of the work, managers often make presentations to groups of various sizes. However, a lot of executives and managers suffer considerable discomfort at the thought of giving presentations. They do not know the effective steps to get rid of the stage fear. So, here is an article providing the most effective tips, strategies, and steps to overcome the fear of presenting at work.

Listed below are the steps to overcome the fear of presenting, and see yourself as a confident speaker-in-progress 

1: Specify the internal discomfort during presentations. 

2: Identify how you are generating the discomfort. 

3: Change the way you think and behave in order to overcome your fear of presenting at work.

Step – 1: Determine your internal discomfort.

The first step to overcome the fear of presenting at work is to highlight the symptoms that emphasise your stage fright or fear of public speaking. So identify the internal body signs that indicate the presence of such fear in you.

What specific internal body symptoms do you experience as you think about giving presentations at workplace?

For example, the throat constricts, mouth becomes dry, heart beats rise high, legs become numb, or there is tightness in the chest, a sensation of butterflies in the stomach, so on and so forth.

Specify the specific sensation or sensations you experience within you. 

Your answer will help you in identifying how exactly you are experiencing the fear of presenting. So, take some time if you want, and do not move on to the next steps unless you discover the accurate body sensations you experience.

Step – 2: Identify how you are generating the discomfort.

In truth, fear is just a state of mind. So, the second step to overcome the fear of presenting at work is about tracking down where your brain goes and how exactly you are creating the issue.

What happens as you think of giving a presentation? 

Here’s some information on how to unpack the sequence of thoughts and perceptions that leave you in the undesired state of mind-

First, imagine some future time or likely situation in which you need to make an impactful presentation. And specify the physical symptoms that validate the presence of discomfort.   

Now, figure out what first thing lets you know to begin experiencing the discomfort. In other words, find out what exactly happened as you thought of giving the presentation.

For example, did any picture flash in front of your eyes? Was there any specific sound that you heard? Or did you say any words to yourself in your mind?

Now backtrack. Check what happened just before that, and before that. Identify the sequence you used in processing the information? And at each step, become aware of the criteria, comparisons, or associations you used in the process. 

Determine the sequence of what you do inside your head, that gets translated into the fear of presentations.

Here is an example to help you understand this process-

When one of my clients working in a pharmaceutical company in India saw the email mentioning that she will have to present the proposed departmental budget to senior executives in the company, she experienced severe headache.

Just before experiencing the headache, she said to herself sentences like ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I can not do it’, ‘I will be judged’, ‘they can reject me’, ‘they know so much more than me’, ‘what if I make a mistake’, etc.

Prior to that she had felt largely disconnected from the senior executives. Earlier, she heard herself saying ‘this isn’t working’

And just before she heard herself saying ‘this isn’t working’, she saw the picture of her team talking amongst themselves while she was presenting, and had heard them whispering.

How do you create your fear of presenting? 

What do you experience just before you feel uncomfortable? 

How do you know to experience that? What conditions do you satisfy, what criteria do you use, and what assumptions do you make?

As noted above, your answers will help you understand how specifically you are creating your problem. 

Furthermore, it is important to note that whatever responses you get, are not random in any way. They are the consequence of how your mind works. So, do not silence any voices inside your head. They will guide you in tracing the blueprint of your stage fright, and making the required changes in your thinking and behaving.

Step – 3: Change the way you think and behave to overcome your fear of presenting at work.

Now that you are aware of how you are creating your fear, I encourage you to change the elements of your internal experience, and embrace new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

strategies to overcome fear of presenting at work

Listed below are 5 strategies that you can use to change your thinking patterns, and overcome the fear of presenting at work. 

Use outcome focussed thinking

To get better the results in your life, it is essential that you use outcome focussed thinking. For this, describe in specific terms the behaviour that you want to exhibit. State it in positive words.

Then, identify the existing resources (thinking patterns, motivation, beliefs, etc) that are helping you to do well in this context. Next, find out the additional resources, skills, and behaviours that you need to put yourself in a better mental state. Lastly, identify how you can best utilise these resources, and commit to some of the things that you can begin doing now.

Eliminate your limiting beliefs to overcome the stage fear

One of the most important things you must do to subside the anxiety for presentations is getting rid of unhelpful beliefs. You must figure out how specifically your thinking is creating limitations, and then adopt the effective ways to change your experience to something more useful.

For this, first identify the specific beliefs that are making you anxious, worried, nervous, concerned, or apprehensive. Then check how valid they are. Are they logical? What evidences do you have? Now, become aware of what you have to lose and gain from continuing to believe in those limiting beliefs. Accordingly, decide what you want to do next to overcome your stage fear. 

Change your perspective to get rid of the fear of public speaking

Learn to look at fear from a new perspective.

For this, make a still image of yourself in the situation where you are afraid of presenting. Then float out of yourself so you can look down and see yourself being afraid. In other words, imagine watching a movie of yourself being afraid of presenting. Stay in the observer position.

As you looking at yourself being afraid, say to yourself ‘that’s ridiculous!’ ‘enough is enough’. Add a little laughter if you want. Further, look at the situation in the context of learning. Identify what you can learn from this experience.

When you can look at this memory in your mind and not be afraid, then you can float back in your body, and then prepare an action plan.

Change the intensity of your emotions

In case you are holding on bad memories, then it’s time to freeze the visual image of the memory in a frame, shrink it, send it away so you can’t see, and let the whiteness literally replaces the memory. Alternately, imagine a brightness knob in your hand. Rotate it to whiten out the frozen frame really quickly.

Do this very very quickly. Repeat this process two or three times to overcome stage fear.

Similarly, you can run the movie of a bad experience backward. That is, see the sights backward, hear the sounds backward, and spin the feelings in your body in the opposite direction to change the intensity of your emotions associated with the memory. Also, the more you do this, the harder it will be for you to remember them.

Ensure that there’s nothing left to be worked upon that is still giving you feelings you don’t want. Very often, just one change makes a huge difference. And sometimes it takes a little extra work to bring the desired changes that you want. Remember that there is nothing wrong in taking a little extra time, as long as you are making progress in the desired direction.

Visualise that you are giving presentations confidently at workplace

To use the technique of visualisation, start by imagining yourself in the future where you have become comfortable and confident at presentations, and you have overcome the fear of presenting at workplace. Then, describe what you are doing, hearing and seeing that tells you that you have overcome the fear of presenting at workplace. Additionally, determine the useful beliefs and values that empowered you to bring about the desired change faster and quicker.

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