“You are walking slowly up one of the aisles. You have spent the previous night sleepless. You knees shake, your mouth is dry, your eyes reflect your sense of horror. You have been invited to give a keynote speech to a national conference of business owners. Those who invited you respect your work and want to give you the chance to promote your services to the assembled company.
You stumble and trip up the stairs. You get up and make it to the centre of the stage. You are now very agitated. In a clumsy move, you accidentally knock over the podium. It falls to the ground with a loud crash. This is a waking nightmare.”
In 1984 a New York Times study on Social Anxiety asked people what they feared the most. Death came third. The top two fears were walking into a roomful of strangers and speaking in public.
My client has no trouble walking into a roomful of strangers. In fact, she is pretty confident. She is owner of an international franchise and is typically warm, enthusiastic, charismatic and effortlessly commanding. Naturally anxious, she is not! However, however. We all have our Achilles Heel. Her challenge has been her horror of public speaking. The scenario that I described at the top is actually what happened to her a year ago.
Her business was expanding fast and she knew she needed to represent her company at higher levels. Which of course meant public speaking. Her business adviser recommended me and we started work together in August this year.
I started by exploring the different audiences she was due to encounter. We looked at a simple DISC personality profile and examined which audience would be more likely to fit which profile and what their needs and concerns would be. As with every presentation, the audience is present for their reasons, not for the presenters’.
Then we looked at the content recognising that most would be forgotten within 48 hours. I find that examining the content and getting the shape really clear increases confidence nicely. We looked at how to manage the crescendos that lead to the “call to action”.
Especially, this talented business owner had a marvellous ability to tell a funny story. So I got her to pick out 3 stories to demonstrate her expertise. Then we looked at PowerPoint. She really ‘got’ that PP is excellent to illustrate, not to inform. Except for the company logo, the rest of her slides were pictures to show off her stories. One of her pictures showed a brussel sprout.
Then I taught her relaxation techniques including self hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Technique to reduce agitation and worry that causes tension before a presentation.
On the day after the presentation, I received this email with “Thank you, thank you, thank you” in the subject box.
“I can’t thank you enough for all your help.
I did the brussel sprout presentation this morning and it went down a storm. I had a standing ovation at the end with comments such as:
“Angela, that has to be the best presentation we’ve had all year”
“What a brilliant way to illustrate what you do – I’ll never see another brussel sprout again without thinking of you!”
“I’m going to a big Christmas Dinner where I’m bound to be served up brussel sprouts – that’ll prompt me to talk to everyone on my table about you.”
I couldn’t believe my luck because as I was driving to the venue, there was a thing on Radio 4 about this year being the best year ever for brussel sprouts and there’s going to be a bumper crop, so I used that as my introduction and told them that the aim of my presentation was to ensure that whenever they saw or ate a brussel sprout in the future, they would automatically think of my company.”
Notice how clever she was in ‘anchoring’ the suggestion to make her company more memorable.
Bright lady. And a pleasure to work with.