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  Jane Miller


Articles -- Presenting

Many people are nervous about delivering a presentation, and there are quite a number of practical tips aimed at overcoming some of the challenges - like using PowerPoint slides to avoid having your mind go blank; focusing on individuals to avoid being psyched out by that "sea of faces", etc.

But the underlying fear often remains, and that fear is probably due to the way you're interpreting the situation.

This fearful interpretation stems from two assumptions. The first is that the idea you're presenting is an intricate part of yourself, so if it is shot down, you will be 'destroyed' or at least badly wounded. The second assumption is that your audience is there in order to judge, criticize and attack you. This situation would strike fear in even the bravest of souls!

But let's re-interpret the situation. First, let's make it clear that you are presenting an idea, and that idea is separate from 'you'.

It's an idea that you may think is great, but if you receive new information that suggests differently, you can change or even abandon the idea. When you place the focus on the idea (rather than yourself), you are no longer the target.

Let's also re-interpret the role of the audience. Think of them as colleagues who share your enthusiasm for the topic and with whom you can partner to improve on your idea, or who can help to develop it further. So invite questions and welcome criticism as an opportunity to expand and improve your idea.

And don't be afraid to admit you don't know something. You can respond, "I don't know but I will note that as an area for future investigation." Or, "Please send me some references to that so I can review it, and perhaps we can discuss it further."

By changing the focus to the idea you will no longer feel threatened; and by embracing your audience as colleagues you will instill an atmosphere of inquiry and creativity.

Think of the venue as a great big playground where you can toss your idea out there and bounce it around with others, building on each others' knowledge and creativity. Every idea is a work in progress and there is nothing more invigorating than inviting others in to join in the process of its evolution.

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