That bad presentation is your fault.
You sabotaged it.
Screwed it up.
All of us sabotage our own presentations more often than we imagine. And we do it through self-defeating behaviors.
These self-defeating behaviors come in many forms, but negative self-talk is one of the chief culprits.
We tell ourselves repeatedly that we’ll fail.
We envision humiliation, embarrassment. Complete meltdown.
We Set Ourselves Up for Bad Presentations
Negative self-talk begins with the most ubiquitous cliche in business school. That cliche is “I hate presentations.” This culprit leads to awful presentations. It undermines everything we strive for in business school presentations.
How can we build a positive presentation on such a spongy foundation?
Negative self-talk translates into bodily reactions of nervousness, trembling, faltering voice. Shaking knees, sweating, and flushing.
Moreover, our sour and weak attitude can infect our teammates if it happens to be a group presentation. The negative spiral down means things get worse before they get better. If at all.
There is, in fact, no greater guarantee of failure. How could anyone succeed at anything with this type of negativity?
Do You Think Like a World-Class Athlete?
The world’s elite athletes train the mind as well as the body. Visualizing success is a technique they use to prepare for competition. I work occasionally with sports psychologists and mental toughness coaches who train athletes in visualization techniques.
All of these experts agree that the mind-body connection – healthy or unhealthy – impacts performance tremendously.
Let’s leave aside the specific techniques and the psychological underpinnings of it that go back more than a century. Let’s just say now that we must at least rid ourselves of the negative self-talk. Let’s give ourselves a fighting chance of success at delivering a good presentation. Even a great presentation.
So why do we talk ourselves down into the morass of self-defeat? It could be the widespread ignorance of how to deliver a powerful presentation. This ignorance means uncertainty of performance.
This ignorance and uncertainty breed fear.
It’s this fear of the unknown that drives up anxiety and can result in a bad presentation. So the key to reducing that anxiety is uncertainty reduction.
And we can reduce uncertainty through preparation and by controlling the variables within our power.
Preparation is the second of the Three Ps of Speaking Technique – Principles, Preparation, Practice. Can we foresee everything that might go wrong? No, of course not, and we don’t even want to . . . instead, we plan everything that will go right, and we focus on that.
We rely on our own adaptability and confidence to field the remaining unexpected 10 percent.
Envision Your Triumph
No one can win by constantly visualizing failure.
Envision this, instead – you deliver a tight, first-rate presentation that hits all the right notes. It weaves a story that grips your audience, that keeps the audience rapt. And it ends in a major ovation and a satisfying feeling of a job well-done.
When we take the stage, we focus. We charge forward boldly, presenting with masterful aplomb and professionalism. With this kind of psychological commitment, we squeeze out the doubts and anxiety. We wring them dry from our psychic fabric.
We eliminate the bad presentation.
The right kind of preparation allows us to deal with unknowns that nettle us.
Positive self-talk is essential to preparing an especially powerful presentation and developing personal competitive advantage.
Find more on how to eliminate the bad presentation in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.