“Don’t try to be perfect – just be you”. Underneath this “You’re wrong” fear (or Public Speaking Monkey as I call them) there’s sometimes a desire to be perfect. If you know people who worry constantly that things they’re saying or doing are incorrect, or fear making a mistake – then now you know why.
Presenters with this fear “beat themselves up” immediately after the presentation. Even if the presentation went well they’ll focus on one point they didn’t say well or one sentence that wasn’t perfect in their eyes. Perhaps they’ll make way too much of something they missed out which the audience wouldn’t even know about anyway!
If you actually made an error then correct it e.g. “I’ve seen that this should be 78 instead of 780 perhaps you can amend that in your notes”. Just be honest and upfront – that’s OK we all make mistakes.
BUT the kind of people who over-worry have not made a real mistake. In their own mind the problem is its not been “perfect” – they over focus on what may go badly even before the presentation. Is something doesn’t go as well as they like they go over and over it in their minds after they have done their presentation. A good approach instead is to give a constructive and helpful feedback sandwich which feels nice (unlike some feedback!).
Don’t try to be perfect – just be you. I illustrate this point by telling my presentation skills participants about Kriss Akabusi MBE and a keynote talk I heard him give. Technically he made tonnes of “mistakes” – speaking too quickly, with a lisp (as have I), and he was so passionate he really was spitting over those in the front row. He repeated a few things unintentionally and got his words muddled up and as far as I’m concerned and the rest of the audience that wasn’t important. He was amazing – he was enthusiastic, inspiring and easy to like. I only noticed the “technical mistakes” because I was giving a presentation skills workshop immediately after his presentation. I shared with my participants that even a professional who maybe gets thousands to speak isn’t “perfect”. But he was, (and you are) perfect . despite and perhaps because of our imperfections.
If you have a presentation coming up and need to “Tame Your Public Speaking Monkeys” or this has give you food for thought – take a look at the different communication training courses we offer.
Read Presentation Fear #2!