When worrying about upcoming presentations, a significant source of public speaking stress can come from the people attending the meeting.
My own experience and that of all my coaching clients has shown me there is a standard way of imagining how the presentation will go that always increases the public speaking stress experienced.
We start with imagining everyone attending the meeting will quickly start to act like a flock of vultures.
They will all sit there, waiting for the first opportunity to tear into both you and your presentation.
Then once they start, it continues all through your presentation.
Enduring The Questions
They will deliberately ask you loads of really awkward and tough questions they know you're going to be unable to answer.
Maybe they will even argue with you or tell you that you're totally wrong.
Either way, they will leave you and your reputation torn to shreds in front of everyone at the meeting.
If you have any thoughts like these, well no wonder you experience public speaking stress in meetings?
Facing Your Worries
An unfriendly audience was one of my biggest worries when it came to delivering any speech or presentation, especially if I thought they might know more than me.
In truth, an audience is unlikely to be unfriendly in a professional environment
When was the last time you attended a meeting having already decided to personally attack the speaker?
Have you ever decided in advance to gang up with your colleagues to tear into anyone's speech?
To deliberately humiliate them in front of everybody who's attending?
To utterly destroy their reputation?
I’m sure the answer to all these questions will be never.
The same applies to everybody who is attending the meeting at which you're speaking.
You may find some people in the meetings at which you're speaking will disagree, debate or simply ignore your proposal.
This is a worst-case scenario, and after all, you’re never going to have everyone agreeing with you all the time.
If you happen to be pitching in front of a prospective client, they may ask challenging questions. They may even say thank you, but no thank you for your proposal.
What you will find is that most meetings where you will be presenting, everyone will be well-behaved asking appropriate and professional questions.
Even if you’re there to speak on a subject which may give rise to some disagreement, people can differentiate between you and the issue on which you’re presenting.
They may all disagree with your proposal or even reject it, but this doesn’t mean they are rejecting you.
Always think of those attending your presentation as intelligent, respectful listeners.
To feel more confident, let go of any concerns causing the anxiety or stress on how the meeting attendees will behave towards you.
You'll achieve greater success for both you and those attending the meeting by focusing on how you can help everyone attending with the content of your presentation.
About the Author
Andy O'Sullivan is an international bestselling author of 5 books on public speaking, pitching and presenting. Andy is a speaker and educator on the subject of how to survive and thrive in the business world with effective public speaking, pitching and presentation skills.