There is a saying in presenting, that you need to be in “the ‘right state’, and not ‘a right state’!”.
Whether we stand up to speak feeling positive and resourceful, or stand up with dread and trepidation depends on what we see happening to us in our imagination.
It sounds simple and it is – the trick is knowing how to manage our imagination to work for us rather than against us.
This is the basis of creative visualisation: being able to ‘picture’ your presentation going well before you even start. We do this naturally when we are dreading something and we ‘imagine’ everything that might go wrong. What you probably don’t find yourself doing naturally is imagining everything going well (which is understandable if you don’t enjoy speaking in public).
The good news though is that visualisation is a simple skill to learn and it is incredibly powerful in helping you present with confidence and manage your stress and worry in the days leading up to a presentation.
There are many ways to manage your mental preparation to be in the right state for a presentation or speech.
Try this quick visualisation exercise next time you need to present or speak in public. I would love to hear how you get on, so please leave a comment or send me your feedback at email@example.com.
Step 1: Close your eyes and imagine the scene of your next presentation as if you were watching a film of yourself giving this presentation or speech. You are going to make this film the most positive version you could possibly deliver. Notice how well you start, who is there with you in the room, what noises if any you can hear before you speak – make it as real and as positive as you can. Continue to watch yourself and make any adjustments to your ‘performance’ that could make it even better.
Step 2: When you have reached the end of the presentation, slowly open your eyes and come back to the present moment and notice the room you are in now. Take a deep breath in and out. Now you are going to repeat the mental visualisation of your speech or presentation going well by repeating Step 1, but this time make even more improvements to your performance, as you close your eyes for this second time and watch yourself give an amazing speech or presentation.
Step 3: You are going to visualise your presentation or speech going well one more time and this time, rather than watching yourself, you are going to step into the ‘movie’ you have created and imagine you are seeing things through your eyes. As you mentally rehearse your presentation or speech this final time, notice what sounds you hear and what you are saying to yourself as you make this the most positive performance you can imagine. Notice what you see around you and any feelings you experience as you continue to enjoy this experience of your presentation or speech going really well. Also notice how people’s reactions are changing as you make improvements to your presentation. When you have come to the end of your presentation or speech, notice how you are feeling, having had such a positive experience as you allow this feeling to relax and fill you with confidence about what to expect. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and come back to the present moment.
Creative visualization is such a simple and powerful tool to practice – and its effectiveness is proven in the world of sport for athletes and professional sportspeople who rely on it to enhance their performance and get into the right state (and not a right state like so many nervous presenters).
Caroline Hopkins is an NLP Master Practitioner specialising in presentation skills coaching and training, who works with clients in the North West of England and London to master their confidence and their skills. Click here to find out more about her 1-to-1 coaching and workshops.