Social phobia: Are you phobic when it comes to making presentations?
Here are some tips for mastering this very common problem.
Over the years I have had many clients in my psychology practice who have been plagued by social phobia causing anxiety, fear and dread when contemplating the idea of making presentations to large groups of people. Often their career success depends on being able to make impactful presentations and so there is invariably a great deal at stake.
If this is your particular issue, what can you do?
1. Mastering your anxiety is key. Don't allow yourself to go into "what-if" or catastrophising thinking – this will make your anxiety sky-rocket! Rather speak to yourself asif you were your own sports coach – use encouraging language, say things to yourself like "I will take things one at a time".
2. Remember to breathe deeply. Take a couple of deep breaths if you feel your anxiety start to build.
3. In the days before the presentation, take some time to close your eyes and to visualise yourself going through the presentation in a confident way, from start to finish.
4. Make sure you are well-prepared and know your subject matter backwards so that you hardly have to concentrate on bringing the material to mind during the presentation but can focus of making your talk interesting and checking your audience to see whether or not they are involved and interested in what you are saying.
5. If you are using audio-visual material such as a powerpoint presentation, make sure each slide is uncluttered and pleasing on the eye!
6. Just before the presentation, close your eyes and get into "the zone" where you access your "confident self" and go out there and act the part, even if it is an act initially.
7. When you are presented with your audience, focus on them and not on yourself!
8. And practise makes perfect! Practise on small groups of people initially, perhaps colleagues who are supportive and will give you helpful suggestions.
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