I hope you’ve experienced the buzz when you get your presentation delivery spot-on. But have you ever questioned why it feels so good? And have you ever wondered why the fear of public speaking overwhelms some people?
The answer, it seems, lies in something we all treasure, aim to protect, and hate to have damaged: our self-esteem.
Thanks to advances in neuroscience we can see that the emotional pain and hurt feelings we get when our self-esteem is damaged activate similar brain processes to physical pain. As this recent article in The Guardian explains, damaged self-esteem affects our behaviour. It can cause minor squabbles to escalate into long running feuds and disputes.
Which brings me back to the fear of public speaking.
If self-esteem really is so precious, you can see why being judged by a whole room full of potential critics makes some people crumble under the pressure.
Fortunately, there’s a very positive flip side. Imagine how nailing your presentation is going to pump up that self-esteem.
Positive feedback from your audience feels good. It makes you feel better about yourself and feeds a basic psychological need.
How do you get to feel the ‘buzz’?
The positive sensation of nailing a presentation might seem out of reach when you don’t have much experience. If you’re particularly self-confident and resilient you might get there eventually by repeatedly getting back on the horse and taking every fall as a learning opportunity.
But most of us aren’t like that. We need help and support to build our confidence.
I get frustrated when I see people set up to fail by their employers by being ‘asked’ to deliver presentations without preparation or coaching. They are expected, somehow, to suddenly become competent.
I’m sure some managers even look at this as a way of testing the mettle of their team.
I can feel their fear and discomfort. And I wonder how this benefits anyone: the presenter or the organisation they have become the spokesperson for.
What people need is positive feedback. They need the experience of delivering their presentation well in front of a non-judgemental audience. One that will only make constructive suggestions to improve their delivery. This is a large part of what I do as a coach.
Once people know they can do it, they will do it
Chip away the fear of failure and people grow and succeed - I’ve seen this work so many times. Success feeds self-esteem, it builds self-confidence and leads to even greater success, which hopefully is what you’re looking for.
Help your team lose the fear and feel the buzz of success: