man presenting while sweating

How not to feel sick before giving a presentation

You know you have an important work presentation coming up, you know you need to look professional and the last thing you need to do is be worrying about if you are going to feel sick before. Giving a presentation should be easy right? After all, you know your topic and normally you are so good at your job and competent, so why do you begin to fall apart when it comes to presenting?

Contrary to popular belief there is something you can do about this feeling! You weren’t born with a fear of public speaking, worrying yourself so much to the point you feel sick. So why do so many people believe that a fear of public speaking is something you need to ‘learn to live with’? Read plenty of expert articles and they will tell you that “all speakers deal with fear and nerves before they present” suggesting that fear or nerves have to be there every time you speak. Perhaps it is even the public speaking training industry itself that profits from keeping this myth alive!

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Let me tell you about a senior manager we worked with many years ago who is still delighted with the results she saw. She used to worry that every time she had to give a presentation she would be physically sick when she presented – so much so that she would carefully plan to ensure her seat was by the exit to get to the toilets quickly. We worked together with her through the three stages of our training programme and uncovered her ‘Public Speaking Monkey’. The cause of this issue turned out to be a wedding where she gave a (good) speech. But she subsequently suffered acute food poisoning (from the wedding meal) and had unconsciously and accidentally created a link between the two issues in her mind. By working through the whole programme we got to understand the root cause of the issue and then got to work on a new mindset, new body language and new breathing techniques to support calm, confident and clear presentations instead.

In my view people are given bad advice – they are told to ignore the problem (aka monkey), not listen to it. They are lead to believe it is something they have always had, rather than to find out why and when it began and told to “just get over it”, instead of understanding the problem first. We don’t believe it is useful to suggest that you will always have a fear of public speaking. In fact, I’m so passionate about it I developed a trademarked technique called “Taming Your Public Speaking Monkeys” which has won over seven business awards so far.  The monkeys are the negative chatter in your mind that causes you to feel sick before a presentation. If you didn’t start the chatter you wouldn’t need to feel sick. Perhaps it sounds too simple to be true? There are three key steps in our training ‘Mindset For Speaking Success‘:

  • Don’t ignore your monkeys! In fact, the first stage, Catching means you uncover the negative voices and really listen to what they are saying (something you’ve perhaps completely avoided doing before!)
  • Uncover when the monkeys first started – Monkeys have a purpose and by listening to them you can connect with them and begin to see when and why they were “born”.
  • With all the evidence you can take the monkey to court to Challenge and prove that they are telling fibs!

You do not need to be nervous and fearful of public speaking. Yes if it is a big presentation or a new situation you may feel adrenaline (some people call it that feeling of butterflies). That’s what professional athletes experience before a race, and it can be helpful to aid performance, but you wouldn’t hear them saying they were nervous would you?! Don’t get me onto why I think the word nervous should be banned from the public speaking dictionary!  The word nervous should be banned!

If any of what we’ve said rings true then give us a call or drop us a line and let’s have a chat about which training course is right for you so that you can stop feeling sick and thrive, not just survive in your role and career.

Posted by Dee Clayton on 14 Jun 2017

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