Self-defeating behaviors come in many forms, but negative self-talk is one of the chief culprits and can be remedied by the ready application of Power Words.
I think you already know that we sabotage our own presentations more often than we like to believe.
We tell ourselves repeatedly that we’ll fail.
We envision humiliation, embarrassment, and complete meltdown.
We concoct a destructive fantasy that we then dutifully fulfill.
The Negative Spiral Down Begins . . .
Negative self-talk begins with the most ubiquitous cliche in business school – “I hate presentations.” This is the chief culprit that leads to inevitably awful presentations.
It undermines everything we strive for in business school presenting.
How can we construct any positive presentation experience on such a spongy foundation?
Negative self-talk results in physical reactions. We essentially talk ourselves into failure.
Nervousness, trembling, faltering voice, shaking knees, sweating, and flushing.
Moreover, our sour and weak attitude ensures that we aren’t the greatest source of strength to our teammates if we happen to be delivering a group presentation.
The negative spiral down guarantees that things get worse before they get better . . . if at all.
We have, in fact, no greater guarantee of failure.
How could anyone succeed at anything with this type of visualization?
Let’s try something different . . .
Think Like a World-Class Athlete
The world’s elite athletes train the mind as well as the body. Visualization of successful outcomes is one of the techniques they use to prepare for competition.
At moments when confidence is most needed, many athletes go to their “power words.”
These are words that help visualize success and victory rather than failure and defeat.
The words can be anything that the athlete has found to negate nervousness. It can be something as simple as mentally reciting “Power!” or “Victory!” at a crucial moment. Say, just before a critical service in a tennis match.
This technique works. And it can work for you.
I collaborate occasionally with sports psychologists and mental toughness coaches who train athletes in visualization techniques and who affirm the utility of Power Words.
They assert that power words can affect performance in positive ways.
All of them are of one opinion that the mind-body connection – healthy or unhealthy – impacts performance tremendously.
Leaving aside the specific techniques for a later time and the psychological underpinnings of it that go back more than a century, let’s say here that we must at least rid ourselves of the negative self-talk.
We do this to give ourselves a fighting chance of succeeding at business presenting.
So why do we talk ourselves down into the morass of self-defeat?
Quite possibly, it’s the widespread ignorance of how to deliver a powerful presentation. This ignorance can mean incredible uncertainty of performance.
Ignorance, uncertainty, and pressure to perform breed fear.
This fear of the unknown drives up anxiety and results in stage fright. So the key to reducing that anxiety is uncertainty reduction – thorough preparation and control of the variables within our power.
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 leave to 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, weaves a story that grips your audience, that keeps the audience rapt, and ends in superb closure, a major ovation and a satisfying feeling of a job well-done.
When we take the stage, we focus mind on our intent, and we charge forward boldly and confidently, executing our presentation with masterful aplomb.
We mentally recite our chosen power words to squeeze out the doubts and anxiety, wring them dry from our psychic fabric.
The right kind of preparation allows us to deal capably with the handful of unknowns that nettle us.
Positive self-talk . . . power words . . . is an essential part of your schema for preparing an especially powerful presentation and developing personal competitive advantage.
Find more on preparing the right way in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.