Overcoming Fear In Presentations

Written by Tammy Durden

Did you allow fear to keep you from doing something?  I believe business owners overcome fear every day simply by owning a business.  It took a lot for you to set up your business, market it, as well as, keep it open. I’ll let you in on a little secret, I have a fear of public speaking. Not unlike imposter syndrome, I had to learn to overcome my fear in presentations when I received an invitation to do a national webinar.

When I was asked to do a national webinar for a SCORE Event, I said, ‘Yes’.  Many may say it is a ‘no brainer’ to say “yes”.  I would point out, however, that it was a big risk because I had a fear of public speaking. And this was a national event!

I was very fearful to present a webinar for this organization for several reasons. One simple reason was that is that speaking is not one of my natural abilities.  I am sure you can relate to the fear of public speaking, but add in the fact that I am quite the introvert, truth be told, and you can understand further why I was fearful.

Most people, meeting me today, cannot believe that I was ever shy.  Now I appear very outgoing most of the time, especially online.  That is what happens when you marry, not realizing your spouse is hearing God call him into ministry (stop laughing now). 

As a Pastor’s Wife (now for over 28 years) I have been forced out of my shell. Some would say ripped out of my shell is more like it. Being a PW (Pastor’s Wife) has also helped me in my business because I have taught classes and spoken in front of our congregations which prepared me for teaching and speaking online.  I have since spoken to Women’s Groups, Luncheons, and Conferences (Conventions & Summits). 

This is not in my nature. Yet, I know God has called me (yes, He finally broke through my introverted, fear-ridden heart) to be able to ‘speak’ to large women’s groups whether in person or online. I do not know why but I’m trying to be obedient. Why do I say this? Because public speaking is still one of my top fears even after nearly 16 years of business and 28 years of ministry.

I like to tease and tell others that I, like Moses, when God called, he said “No Lord, I cannot speak, send my sister, please!”(my paraphrase for my circumstance). Yes, I was that girl, when God broke through to tell me and told me I would be speaking with large groups, who tried to tell God “no”. Although, He had other plans (wink). Does this sound familiar?

Just as Moses pleaded with God to send someone else because he did not feel capable of speaking, I too, wanted Him to send anyone other than myself.  I, like Moses, tried to get out of doing this, however, the answer I received was very different than God’s answer to Moses. God allowed Moses’ brother to do His speaking.  He did not raise my sister (or another sister) to do this for me at this time.

God has made it clear to me, that he will not allow a substitute for my voice – it is to be me!  YIKES!  So, if I am genuinely transparent, I can tell you that it terrifies me still, even after all of these years. I have shared, taught, and spoken, but I am still inside me is that little girl screaming to the teacher, “I need to go to the Nurse, I feel sick!”, when it was time to do an oral report. 

Yep, now you know my little secret (let’s keep it between us please). Maybe you feel this way too. If you do then you know why I feel shy and get knots in my stomach at the thought of doing any webinar, speaking with a group, or another event. An event that demands I be ‘present’ and ‘outgoing’ is a real stretch for me.   

Therefore, when I was asked to do a national webinar that may be shown to over 1,200 people (2000 signed up actually -gulp-) I wanted to yell, “NO – Send my sister!” Remember this was not just the average person but this was a professional presentation attracting Professionals and Business Owners, no less.  That is why I considered it a risk. And to say I might have been slightly intimidated was probably a huge understatement. I did it anyway!

Preparing for your presentation in advance is one of the best ways to overcome your fear.

  1. Preparation – This is key to a good presentation. Imagine what could have happened if I had not prepared in advance of the event. 
  2. Slides – I had to prepare all of the slides, including a new template. I wanted it to contain my branding but did not ‘push’ my business. The appearance of the slides can be inviting or can push someone to tune out. If this is not an ability in your wheelhouse, I would certainly recommend outsourcing. 
  3. Content – The content contained on the slides must be accurate, contain good information, and provide value for all who will be watching.  Remember attendees are giving up their time to watch this in the hope of receiving great content as a trade-off.  I needed to be able to reach a wide audience so that many would be attracted to attend the webinar.  Not only does it have to appeal in appearance, but the content must also be concise. 
  4. Research – To help with content research is necessary. Present facts and statistics when able to prove your points.
  5. Presenting Your Webinar or Course – This is all on me here, as long as the technology works well that is.  You want to present as flawlessly as possible or at least in a genuine way. It cannot be a ‘canned’ presentation.  If something goes wrong or the slides do not work well, go with it and apologize but keep going with great information. It is alright to make a mistake as long as you are genuine.  Consider also that the audience must feel and believe that genuineness and that you still know what you are talking about. The tone of your voice and the speed at which you present should be even with inflection where needed. You also need to sound inviting, honest, and genuinely helpful. 

I always want to give good information that truly helps others, as I’m sure you do as well.

You may wonder why I immediately agreed to do the SCORE webinar when asked.  When faced with fears whether personally or in business I too often lean on the side of caution.  To make a good conscious decision, however, I need to weigh the risks versus the gains.  Not only am I being called to do more speaking but that alone makes me drawn to do the SCORE Webinar, even as uncomfortable as I am.

The gain versus risk could be huge for our company.  Weighing out your risk versus reward is an important part of the process of overcoming your fear of doing presentations.

In my case, it not only helped with brand awareness, but it also allowed me a larger voice as a ‘micro-influencer’ outside of my industry.  Ultimately, it presented the chance to genuinely influence and help other business owners, which I truly desire to do.  It also made me and our company visible to a wide range of business owners and professionals.  Remember these opportunities also contribute to you and I being seen as an expert in our respective industries.

Therefore do not allow fear to make you immediately dismiss an opportunity.  Take a second look and weigh the risk versus the reward. Even if you are not a risk-taker by nature, you can learn to embrace these opportunities.  If it doesn’t go exactly as planned it still will give you an amazing experience, as well as, the ability to learn from any mistakes.  The other item I gained is additional skills.  

Do you have a fear of public speaking or doing presentations? Let’s work on it together!

Until Next Time, continue doing good and making a difference out there!

with love from Tammy Durden of Fearless Business Boss

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