03 Nov What can I do to reduce my nerves and connect with my audience?
When presenting, I suggest that you try to a technique called ‘Extending the Self’. The participants in my presentation skills training programs value this skill highly because it’s a powerful technique for reducing nervousness. It does this by taking your focus off your nerves and placing your attention on your audience, which in turn enhances your connection or rapport with them.
The idea behind this technique is that most people have some sort of symptom that indicates nervousness. For some people it’s a sick feeling, for others it is a flushing face, shaky legs or a dry mouth
Still other people become hot and perspire profusely when they are nervous. If you focus on yourself, you’ll become very aware of your symptoms and will probably get even more nervous. If on the other hand you are fully focused on your audience and therefore not aware of yourself, your body may still be nervous but you won’t be aware of it.
So the technique of placing your focus fully on your audience will increase the ‘connection’ they feel with you and it will dramatically reduce your own sense of nervousness. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s all about your audience!
How do I ‘Extend the Self’?
To Extend the Self, simply imagine that there is a bubble around you and your audience! You are in the bubble too! Really see the individuals in your audience look into the whites of your audience’s eyes, rather than skim their heads or pretend to look at them. You will notice that you also see their bodies, their clothes and their expressions. Really ‘connect’ with your audience. Remember that your audience is made up of real live humans who you have the wonderful opportunity to influence and help.