Do you suffer from any form of Presentation Anxiety including fear of work presentations, exam nerves or stage fright? At Swindon Feelgood Solutions Therapy I’ve worked with many people helping them overcome such issues and hope that, in sharing my own personal experience with you that I can help you recognise that there is a solution!
An upcoming conference
In just over two weeks time, on October 29th, 2016 to be precise, I’m giving a talk at The Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy Annual (APHP) Conference. At one time the thought of presenting filled me with dread – ‘What if I forget what I was talking about?’ ‘What if what I’m talking about is perceived as a whole load of rubbish?’, ‘What if I really am talking a whole load of rubbish? – Once these seeds of doubt were planted the fear would continue to grow. By the time the presentation arrived I would be an absolute bag of nerves. My stomach full of bats on acid resulted in constant trips to the loo. How my heart didn’t explode through my chest is beyond me, yet somehow I managed to get through these events.
Typically, after about 15 minutes of talking my nerves would calm down and the presentation would generally be ok. I base this perception of ‘OK’ on the feedback I’d get from the audience – if there was anyone left in the room I figured it was ok. If they were applauding I figured they got some enjoyment out of it. And if they were jumping up and down in their seats waving their hands in the air to ask me a question, I figured I’d triggered their interest in whatever topic I was talking about.
Attempts to rationalise my fear
Even though, on a rational level I knew that I was an ok presenter, that I always put my heart and soul into my work, and that the worse that could happen is the audience didn’t enjoy my talk (actually, that still feels slightly scary) I was unable to control those darn presentation nerves. The few weeks prior to a talk I would be like a cat on a hot tin roof – my presentation fear wasn’t just impacting on my life but on those around me!
Attempts to understand my fear
Now, if I only presented once or twice a year this wouldn’t have been such a problem, and actually, once upon a time it wasn’t. Many moons ago I worked as a tutor and, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t prepare too much for the daily tuition sessions. This led me to realise that the more time and energy I invested, the more I thought about the upcoming presentation, and the more I questioned my ability – was this increasing my anxiety? One theory in psychology argues that negative interpretation of a precipitating event leads to us being hyper vigilant when we are then in that situation, thus increasing anxiety. My over planning led to me over analysing what I was delivering, and this often resulted in me thinking about what I feared would happen. I had become caught in a pattern of negative behaviour.
Fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail – really?
I now recognise that my over planning most likely stems from a time when I was told ‘fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail’ combined with a talk I did on behalf of an organisation I worked for that was fine but we didn’t get the contract – I had done some prep but clearly not enough as, in my mind, we had failed! Looking back I realise this was ridiculous as the feedback had been very positive – but the brain works in mysterious ways!
Somehow, I’d come to doubt my own ability which resulted in hours of practice/re-writes/practice/re-writes/hair-pulling/practice/re-writes… you get the picture! and it was then I realised that over-prepping was causing the problem and that this over prepping was because I doubted my own ability – I had become locked into an unhealthy pattern of behaviour and the result of this was that, for a number of years I avoided presenting as much as I could That was until, in January this year I was asked to present at a BWRT workshop on working with Children and young people!
How Brain Working Recursive Therapy® helped me
I agreed, knew that I knew the subject matter, and so decided to book a BWRT® session to help me change the unhealthy pattern of behaviour I’d got into. My preferred response – to feel as confident in my ability to present as I am in my ability to make a cup of tea (actually, I hope none of you reading this have tasted my tea….!).. Then I relaxed. The presentation went well and it was on the back of that talk that I was asked to present at the APHP conference.
I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter that I’m presenting at a conference full of world-renowned hypnotherapy experts. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on preparing my talk, but not enough for it to take over my life. I know my subject matter – I should do having spent 20 years working with children and young people, and if I don’t know the answer to a particular question it doesn’t matter – there is always a way of finding out the information. This time I’m looking forward to enjoying the experience!
Can BWRT® help you?
If you suffer from presentation nerves why not see how BWRT might be able to help you. Call me now on (01793) 677817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org