A woman approached me after a recent presentation. She had recently changed careers. Previously she was in the insurance business presenting programs to prospects. She was accompanied by other staff who supported her presentations. Now she was selling her own consulting services–by herself. She was making presentations to groups and she was terrified. She asked me how I delivered effortless presentations that were also effective. Her question brought me back to eleven years ago when I started my business and the fear I also faced. Here’s what I did to get past it.
I was successful in Corporate America. My fear was that I would not succeed on my own. Imagine that? What terrified me more than anything else was the idea that me, someone who had always succeeded in business, might fail at something. Failure to me was delivering a nervous, ineffective presentation. I was determined to succeed.
First, I prepared so well that if the LCD projector broke, if my laptop failed, if every technical aspect of my program stopped, I could still deliver my programs. How did I do this? I practiced so much that if you woke me from my sleep and said Slide 4, I would be able to speak as if I were right in the middle of my program. Just kidding, but it’s not too far from the truth. I remember practicing my delivery and my daughter would walk by my office. She thought my practicing out loud was talking to her. After a few hours of this she began to understand that talking to myself was my preparation.
How did I know when I was done practicing? When I got totally sick of the program. When I would say to myself, “Enough already” that’s when I knew I was ready to present. You can practice and get a gut feeling of when you’re ready, too. If you want to deliver conversational, effortless appearing presentations, you have to remove all sources of nervousness. Knowing you are prepared is a big confidence booster. Practicing will get you there.
Here’s what sealed the deal. When I first started my business, my daughter was in high school. I drove her to school. The first time I had a program to present, she told me something I will always remember. As she left the car, she turned to me and said, “Mom, you are going to be great. You’re very good at what you do.” What she said told me that she believed in me. Her belief in me gave me a sense of peace and calm.
Who believes in you? Who knows you well enough to tell you the truth about your work? I have a family that I can trust who tells me not what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. They nourish my spirit. Going out on your own, delivering presentations or doing anything more challenging than you’ve done in the past is easier when you have the support of people who care about you. I have my family. If not family, you can have a group of people who do for you what my family does for me.
There are going to be many situations in business that challenge and frighten you. Yes, you can succeed by hard work alone. I don’t recommend it because it’s much too difficult. The confidence that comes from those who you trust believing in you is even more powerful than the confidence you get just from preparation. When you and your spirit are both prepared, you will be unstoppable and successful at anything you do. Your success will be even more satisfying when you have others who enjoy your good fortune, too. What better way is there in business to get past your fears and be successful?