Imagine a room filled with people. Imagine their eyes following you as you walk to the front of the room. Imagine them waiting, expectantly, as you stand facing them.
Enough to send your stress level into the stratosphere?
That's the reaction many presenters have as they step to the stage, podium or head of the conference table. But by re-framing the picture and visualizing a smooth, confident presentation, you can overcome those initial nerves.
Visualization, referenced in literature as far back as Plato, is a technique where you create a mental image of an event or situation. Since the body cannot distinguish between a real experience and one which is vividly imagined, repeating a sequence of thoughts and images makes it more probable that they will occur in the actual situation. Sports professionals, in particular, use this technique.
Several days or even a couple of weeks before your presentation, start visualizing the event, imagining each segment in vivid and precise detail, to imprint these images on your muscles and brain.
- Visualize yourself walking to the front of the room with energy and serenity.
- Visualize the confidence you feel as you gaze out at your audience and connect with each of them on some personal level.
- Visualize your hands, sweat-free, clasped loosely before you.
- Visualize your voice, strong and modulated, as you begin to speak.
- Visualize the audience riveted on your words, eager to see where this journey leads.
- Visualize the passion you feel about your subject reaching out to touch each person in the audience.
- Visualize the ease with which you respond to questions, adding a little more nuance and insight with each answer.
And, finally...visualize yourself smiling as the audience rises in their seats to give you a standing ovation.