Skillset New Zealand Blog

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Richie McCaw, world-famous rugby player, doesn't know it but he has just provided this top tip for nervous presenters.

'Turn up' for your presentation

I'm serious. After a recent game, Richie expressed his satisfaction with the way his team played. He said, "The boys turned up for the game." He means, of course, that their minds turned up along with their bodies. And that leads to an excellent bit of advice for nervous presenters. Let me explain.

When nervousness stops you 'turning up'

Very nervous presenters are not fully present. Too much of their mind is disengaged (not conveying message to audience), away in a dungeon of thoughts like:

I'm no good at this...
I don't like everyone looking at me...
I wish I could stop saying 'um'...
I need them to like me...
They can see right through me...
My topic is boring them...

and so on.

It gets worse: that word 'present' also means present in time. But nervous presenters don't occupy the present, they're wallowing in the past and the future, second guessing themselves:

I shouldn't have said that...
Oh no, I made a mistake...
Why didn't someone tell me that expert was going to be here...
And, I'll forget my words...
I hope they don't ask questions...
They'll find out I don't know much...

and so on.

When we allow our thoughts into that destructive closet we disengage from real and present contact with the audience. We make our worst opinions of our own abilities into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What it means to turn up as a presenter

So, here's that tip again, expanded for presenters:

Turn up, mentally. Choose to focus your thoughts on engaging the audience. Be with them in every instant.

Thank you Richie.

Michael

About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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