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When you are able to take control of your emotions and

manage your confidence and fear levels, you’ll dramatically

improve your presentation skills

their eyebrows may well be raised and

straightened, their mouth slightly open and

lips tense (small) and drawn back.


Take a look at TV programmes such as

Dragons’ Den

and you’ll see fear in many of

the contestants pitching for the investment

of the dragons. It’s a good idea to make a

list of the things that signal a person is

fearful. This helps you recognise the factors

more easily and more efficiently commit

them to memory. Study confident people,

too, and compare their individual actions

with what’s on your list.

Now, using a mirror or a partner, adopt

a fearful posture and then switch to

feeling confident, now switch back again.

Spend a few minutes moving between

these two states so that you can turn each

on and off like a switch.

It’s been scientifically proven that 55 per

cent of what governs how we feel (fearful

or confident) is based solely on our posture

and physiology. So any time you sense a

feeling of fear, simply adopt your now

learnt confident physiology. Fear gone or

greatly reduced in an instant. It really is

that simple to change how you feel!


When you think of standing up and

presenting and you start to feel that feeling

of fear, what is your focus? Take time,

either alone or with others, to think about

and list all the things you are focussing on

when imagining presenting to others. If you

are thinking ‘all those people’, why is that

your focus and what is it about them that

frightens you?

By now, you’ll begin to uncover the root

causes of your fear by understanding it in

relation to what you are focussing on and the

real reasons why. Now all you need to do is

refocus and the fear will diminish. For

example, if the root cause of your fear is a

sense of impending embarrassment by

forgetting your lines, fluffing your message

and generally going wrong on stage, then let’s

give you a new focus.

Imagine yourself leaving the stage to a

standing ovation. People are patting you on

the back and coming up to shake your hand.

For this to be effective, you need to really

develop this mental image within your own

mind. You can do this by adding detail and

making your internal mental representation,

big, bold and in colour. The sounds are loud

and clear and you can even smell the room,

and feel the steps of the stage under your

feet. Now close your eyes and spend five

minutes developing and clarifying your

internal movie. Once you have this clearly in

your head, relax and open your eyes.

Whenever you start to sense fear about an

impending presentation, play your movie and

focus on all the detail as much as possible.

You’ll be astonished at how your feeling will

change… once again, in an instant.



One final step for removing your sense of

fear comes from a simple technique of

changing how you internally communicate

with yourself in relation to what is making

you fearful.

On a sheet of paper or a computer screen,

write a page or so describing how you are

feeling towards an upcoming presentation

and how you think it will go. Write down what

you think will be good and what will be bad,

make notes of the individual things that you

think will or might happen and your thoughts

and opinions of them.

Now, read through what you have

written and highlight every word and

phrase that is negative (can’t, won’t, fail,

miss, lose and so on). In other words, pick

out every time you associate something

negative with your presentation.

As a separate exercise, do the same, but

this time highlight every word and phrase

that is positive (will, can, win, success...).

How many of each do you have? Typically, the

more the percentage is negative, then the

more fear you are associating with the event.

The final stage of this exercise is to replace

all of your negativity with positivity. Literally,

cross out every negative reference and

replace it with a positive alternative and

write a nice new pristine version with no

negative references. Now, as regularly as you

can, read to yourself your new, entirely-

positive thoughts about your upcoming

presentation and, lo and behold, that’s what

your brain will provide you with.

In summary, whenever you start to sense

any fear related to presenting, firstly stop

negatively focussing on yourself and

reframe your mindset to what others may

be concerned about.

Next, adopt your confident posture and

physiology. Thirdly, mentally play your

internal success movie and make sure to

focus on the sensory detail. Next on the

list is to read your positive presentation

commentary to yourself, and do so with

feeling, really believing what you are

telling yourself.

Finally, remember that exuding confidence

and managing your fear is mostly due to the

way you mentally process. So if you dwell on

negatives that is what your brain will deliver

for you. But if you concentrate on successful

aspects, that’s a much more appropriate

focus for your mind and likely to significantly

enhance your performance.

Phillip Adcock

is a commercial

psychologist and

author of


Your Brain:

Training Your

Mind for Success

in Life

. Available

from Amazon