By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels
Presenting or speaking in public – as you will likely have experienced – makes people nervous… In fact, it’s one of the commonest social fears.
1. Why do we get nervous?
When we are faced with a dangerous or difficult situation our body’s automatic “fight or flight” response kicks in, pumping adrenaline into our bloodstream.
In its most extreme form, it produces a condition psychologists term ‘glossophobia’ – where the sufferer literally freezes and can’t speak.
For most of us, it’s thankfully not so severe. We just get any combination of the more typical, ‘milder’ symptoms:
2. How does it affect our performance?
Here, we need to consider three key questions:
A) When does your audience judge you – deciding you’re a ‘good’ presenter with an interesting message for them (so you’ve got their attention)… or vice-versa (so they switch off)?
Answer: in about the first ten to thirty seconds
B) When do nerves affect us the strongest?
Answer: in about the first thirty seconds
C) How often do speakers recover after a ‘nervy’ start and fully recapture the audience’s attention?
Answer: very rarely, if ever
So, we have a crucial coincidence of the peak of a speaker’s nerves and ‘instant’ audience judgment together with the fact that if you don’t start well, you’ve lost an ‘ideal’ level of audience interest and impact you will most likely never fully recover.
With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that after your presentation or speech you might feel like…
… you’ve underperformed…
…not kept the audience’s attention as you wanted…
…not had the impact you hoped for… Continue reading