Imagine this. You’re really good at what you do, yet when the time comes to give a presentation, speak in public or conduct a meeting, you feel uneasy. Maybe your heart races, or you have a hard time organizing your thoughts. Maybe you look around the room and wonder, “how the heck did I get a seat at the table?” Or maybe you think that acting like all of the high energy, charismatic folks around you is the best approach, even though that’s so not your style.
If you’re reading this newsletter, chances are you can relate to feeling that way at one time or another.
I know I can.
Feeling nervous is normal
These feelings were expressed by men and women during a one day presentation workshop I facilitated last week. (Side note: Often we read messages for women about overcoming impostor syndrome. But guess what, men feel it, too.)
Guess what else? Feeling nervous is normal. It shows you care or that something important is at stake.
This post is for anyone who has ever taken the stage or their seat at the table and felt “less than” or “not good enough” and left wondering how the heck you even got a seat at the table to begin with.
Your skills, knowledge, personality have value
That’s why you were invited to the meeting.
Take Dan for example. Dan was one of the gentlemen in last week’s workshop. A 50-something, white haired business development executive who loves talking to people. It’s why he enjoys sales. However, presenting at his company, he said, “is awkward and uncomfortable.”
Tell me more, I urged.
He said that more than anything, he cares a lot about his peers and clients. “But I don’t think that has value,” he told the group.
Then another gentleman shared his experience. “I get in these meetings and everyone is so charismatic. That just isn’t me yet I feel like that’s how I need to act.”
Have you ever felt this way?
As a communication and presentation coach, it pains me when I hear comments like this from clients and participants. Probably because I can 100% understand where they are coming from.
Mindset, I told the group. It all starts with mindset.
Then I shared a short anecdote about how my mindset changed a number of years ago. I was invited to share stress management strategies as part of a wellness series at a local library. I, too, suffered from impostor syndrome, nerves, and an overall malaise towards presenting. I shared information and then at the end I guided the group through a 15 minute relaxation activity. The program ended and I packed my things to go. That’s when a woman from the audience approached me with tears in her eyes.
“Are you OK?” I asked.
She shook her head and said, “I’ve lived with chronic pain most of my adult life. For the fifteen minutes of that relaxation activity, I didn’t have any pain.”
Holy cow. That’s the moment everything changed, and I realized that speaking up in meetings, pitching prospects, formal presentations, sharing important information with colleagues, isn’t really about me. It’s about the value I bring to others.
And what I know has real value.
The same is true for the folks in last week’s program. The same is true for you.
Own your value
If you want to feel more at ease during meetings and presentations, it starts with you.
Whether you’re a financial advisor, leader of a small team, coach or consultant who wants to feel more comfortable pitching your services, you, your work, and your ideas, have value.
The question becomes: Can you create a new story about presenting your information and ideas so you can feel more confident and achieve the results you want?
Maybe it’s time to see presenting not as an opportunity to feel less than, but as an opportunity to help, connect and solve problems.
Remember, your voice matters.
It starts with you.
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