You have to give a presentation. You’re nervous; what if something unexpected happens? What will you do? Here’s the most important thing to remember: something unexpected will happen.
Most people I work with are terrified of what might go wrong when they speak, and that if something does (and it probably will) that it will de-rail the whole thing, the audience will then lose their faith in them as a speaker and they will die of embarrassment.
The Solution Strategy
Here’s what to do; think of it like a game of American Football* or rugby; you’re starting at one end of the pitch, and to deliver your presentation, you simply have to get to the other end. Between you and that Q+A end zone* is a series of possible problems, manifested as large gentleman equipped with body armour, crash helmets, superior mass and power, and a focused desire to violently knock you on your back. Here’s what you do:
- Step up to the challenge and attack this situation with absolute focus. If you hesitate you’re more likely to succumb to the pressure.
- When a problem appears, turn and slip past it by adapting e.g. ditch the technology that’s letting you down, answer the unexpected question, smile and accept what’s happening. Maintain control as each problem appears.
- With the end in sight, accept your nerves, and embrace the absurdity and unfairness of any problems you’ve encountered and realise that this will be a great story to tell people another time.
- Touchdown! You have achieved something wonderful. Smile, enjoy the moment and answer those questions like the professional that you’ve just convinced them you are.
Afterwards, note down all the unexpected things that happened and think how best to prepare for them for the next time you speak.
Expect the unexpected. Or, expect the best and prepare for the worst.
* If you’re American, then just ‘football’.
* Great metaphor, this. Very pleased with it.
My YouTube video on when Things Go Wrong