Downward Spiral while presenting

Have you experienced the ‘downward spiral’ while presenting?

Read time: 3 minutes

Executive Summary

  • Worry before the presentation can lead to poor preparation and increased nerves.
  • Nervousness can make you rush, forget to breathe, and avoid eye contact.
  • Poor presentation skills can disconnect you from the audience and lead to a rushed and unsatisfying delivery.


Here’s how to recognise and avoid it

I talk about the downward spiral a lot in my self-help book, and it gets a mention in my upcoming book too. Why? Because downward spirals can negatively impact your presentations – and ultimately your career. However, if you recognise and address the signs, they can be so easily avoided.

A downward spiral can look like this: before the presentation has even begun (and in some cases months before), the presenter begins to worry and lose sleep. Instead of spending their valuable time preparing, they waste their time and energy on worrying. Most people in this situation go into denial/head-in-the-sand-mode and leave their preparation to the very last minute, hoping it will all go away. When they finally get round to it, they discover that they have no idea how to prepare efficiently – after all, they don’t do public speaking very often if they can help it.

One thing leads to another

When it comes to presentation day, the audience can see the presenter’s nerves – even before they have said a word. They are probably looking scared, avoiding eye contact and nervously grasping their hands/pen/notes. In response, the audience stop smiling and wait nervously too. The presenter dares to look up from their notes and is greeted by a sea of uncomfortable-looking unsmiling faces.

Then the presentation begins. The presenter is in a rush to get it over and done with, so speaks way too quickly. Their throat goes dry and there is no water nearby. They forget to breathe correctly, and the sound of their own gasping voice makes them feel even more nervous. They keep looking at their notes or the screen rather than the audience, so fail to build a rapport with the room. If they do happen to look up, by now they see a disconnected look on people’s faces and assume they are bored. So they speed up even more, and rush through the remaining slides.

Do you see why I call it the downward spiral? It just keeps getting worse. Each little thing builds on the next to make the presentation pretty poor. The only thing the presenter and the audience have in common is that they are both glad when it’s over!

Let’s turn that spiral around

Do you recognise this downward spiral behaviour in yourself or someone you know? The good news is that you can easily do something about it. It all stems from public speaking fear. Once we have worked together to address and conquer that fear (“taming your public speaking monkeys” as I call it), I can give you the presentation skills coaching you need to become a confident and brilliant public speaker. Life is too short for those downward spiral moments.

Simply Amazing Training offers professionalpresentation skills coaching and public speaking coaching* for individuals and companies in Bournemouth, and across Dorset, Hampshire, Herts and London. Have a look around the website, or call me today on 0330 223 4392 for an informal chat to discuss your requirements. And check out my‘Pass It On’*

Author: Dee Clayton

Dee Clayton - Simply Amazing TrainingDee Clayton, an acclaimed coach and winner of the prestigious Overall National UK NBW Award in 2022, has over 30 years of experience in communication. With over half of her career as an author, mentor, and trainer. Dee offers a distinctive blend of skills and insights. Her mission is clear: to empower high-performing individuals to excel further, while guiding their teams to unprecedented success. Connect with Dee via LinkedIn.

Posted by Dee Clayton on 15 Oct 2015

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