Scary Presentation

I hate doing presentations.
I believe the more presentations you do, the better you become at doing them but the fact is, I very rarely have the need to do them in my line of work so no, I’m not good at them. Occasionally, I do training presentations, which aren’t as bad because talking about my day to day job is easier.
The last time I did a major presentation to senior management was over 7 years ago…I don’t have great memories of that.
If I have to speak out in public to a formal audience, I suffer from all the classic symptoms – dry mouth, blank mind, short breaths, trembling, sweating and extreme nervousness. Apparently I hide all these symptoms well because people think I’m alright at presentations but the fact is, I’m pretty TERRIFIED of them.
So when I was on that 3 day course in London back in June, I thought nothing about what would happen at the end of the project that my team would work on for 5 months. I don’t think it was made very clear, or perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention.
All projects were to end in November with a formal presentation to the senior leadership team, including our CEO, CFO, COO, etc.
HQ in London – yes, it looks like a boat!
I’ve been in a state of dread all month, knowing the days were ticking down. I’d done all my work for the project, pretty much knew all my stuff but the thought of travelling down to London and doing the presentation was making me feel rather ill. 
There was no way out for me.
D-Day
Well it happened on Thursday.
Our team had had no formal practice of our presentation as none of us were based at the same office (one guy was based in Germany). Other teams had spent days practising to perfect their deliveries. I had a horrible feeling.
We were third up and my pitch was in the middle of our presentation. The senior leadership team were sat very close to the front of the auditorium – I could clearly see the whites of their eyes. My legs were shaking as I stood there and I hoped no one noticed.
It was the longest 2 and half minutes of my life.  
I actually don’t really remember what I said.  I didn’t have a script (for fear of not remembering my lines) or notes (for fear of fumbling them), deep breathing beforehand had helped a little with my short-breathlessness so I didn’t lose my voice. I do recall that I didn’t think I sounded natural, that it wasn’t my voice, that I sounded like I was talking as if my life depended on it! 
But I do remember people were nodding as I was speaking (so I was making sense!) and that gave me the confidence to finish without things going all pear-shaped.  I felt like collapsing in a heap after I’d finished speaking!
And then it was all over, questions were asked and answered and I sat back down with relief and my heart finally slowed down.
Afterwards, people told me that I did really well, that I’d pitched my voice just right and sounded confident.  Really? Yet all I was feeling was that I wanted the ground to swallow me up!
I know this is something I need to work on – rather than shy away from presentations or public speaking, I need to do more. I’m not looking forward to it…wish me luck!

Useful Slogans
Anyway, after all the presentations had taken place, we had a final formal session where we learned about stuff that would help us to develop our careers and to help the business grow.  I couldn’t help but think that some of the ‘slogans’ could be used for this blog:
“Empower And Inspire Each Other”
The whole PF/FI blogging community does this – not only a wealth of knowledge but full of friendly support, help and motivation. Certainly, it’s from reading blogs that has motivated me to start my own and set off on my own FI journey. Reading about other people’s experiences has given me confidence to do things myself to try to emulate what they have achieved.
“Learn And Adapt To Win”
I’ve learned a lot about saving and investing but there is still so much more to learn. I’d never heard of savings rates before but am now rigorously tracking my own savings to achieve my goals.  Flexibility I think is key here – if mistakes are made, learn from them, adapt and move on.
“Deliver Results in an Uncertain World”
This one is almost written with the stock market in mind. I recently learned more about diversification so am changing the asset allocations of my portfolio, which should hopefully achieve desired growth and income whilst minimising losses during volatile stock market fluctuations. This slogan could also apply to the world in general, with things like health, taxes, inflation, pensions all being in the ‘uncertain’ bracket.
Relief
I’m so relieved that the project and presentation is in the past. I’ve been mentally drained these past few weeks. I’ll be out celebrating with a few drinks this weekend anyway.
I do have one more project to complete but no presentation required for this one – YAY!
Have a great weekend all!

10 thoughts on “Scary Presentation

  1. Hi Weenie

    Congratulations on your presentation, I don't think people would say you had done well if you hadn't. I also think most people get really anxious if they have to make presentations, I know I do but luckily its very rare I have to present.

    I think the slogans you have identified are very apt for investors, and totally agree that the PF/FI community definitely inspire others. Its a great environment as you don't need losers to have winners.

    Good luck on your saving and investing journey, keep at it and you will get there.

    FI UK

  2. Hi Weenie,

    Congratulations on facing your fears. Public speaking is a very common fear and I too have suffered from it. I used to fake illness in University to avoid them because I didn't know how to handle all the symptoms you listed above. I hated it!
    During the induction of a previous job, I was put on a 2 day Presentation Course in London. It was my idea of Hell. Those 2 days helped a great deal. The fellow attendees were equally nervous and terrified, and not person was calm and confident. This gave me confidence "I wasn't alone". I saw a lady deliver a brilliant presentation and I told her how well she did after it. She said "are you joking?! I was terrified, don't make fun of me!". I said "seriously, you were brilliant, I wish I could be that calm." She had no idea.
    Then it was my turn, and it felt like your description above – I wasn't myself, it felt like my voice changed and I was shaking – but I did it. The trainer said that I was very good and a natural speaker, I thought he was having me on. A couple of attendees said how confident and calm I was. I felt the exact opposite. The trainer went on to say that we all exaggerate how we think we're coming across to people. It's never as bad as in your head. The trainer even said he was nervous for the first 5 mins, and you wouldn't have ever guessed.
    I've held on to that experience for the rest of my life. Many people find it nerve wracking, and it's never as bad as it seems!
    For me, the best way to present is to speak to people without notes. Practice what you speaking about again and again. I was really proud in Dec 2012, when I was best man and I had to deliver the speech in front of 150 guests. I learned the whole speech in my head and I delivered it. It was one of the biggest rushes I've had in my life. I received some positive feedback too!

    Thank you for sharing Slogans. You're right that all three of them are relevant to FI/PF. The 'Empower and Inspire Each Other' one is particularly strong for me. I get a big kick out of seeing other people succeed, and the support from people all over the world is fantastic.

    All the best with future presentations!
    Huw

  3. I do not like presentation as much as well. I usually need some time prior to the night to memorize them and when the real day comes I give out my speech accordingly.

    I am getting better but its not my type of giving public speech.

  4. Hi B, I actually didn't look at my presentation or my notes the night before, because I wanted a good night's sleep! Looking would have only really stressed me out! I did look in the morning and also minutes before stepping up! Thanks for stopping by and hope you continue to get better!

  5. Hi Huw, I've been to a lot of weddings and not once really thought about the best man making his speech being the same as a presentation, but of course it is! Thanks for sharing your experience and well done to you for successfully giving your speech in 2012!

    I've been on a presentation course before but many years ago and if you don't use what you learn on a regular basis, it's easy to forget. All I remembered was breathing properly to calm myself down!

    I agree with you with not having notes – I was toying with the idea but decided to ditch them and I'm glad I did.

    Yes, the 'Empower and Inspire Each Other' is the most relevant slogan and one I can really identify with. Long may we all continue this!

    Thanks for your kind words as usual.

  6. Hi FI UK, thanks for your kind words.

    Well, you've come up with a slogan right there yourself, "you don't need losers to have winners" – nice one, we can all be winners! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thanks Tawcan – I envy you, both for your visit to Japan and that you are looking forward to the presentation, lol! Good luck but sounds like you won't need it! 🙂

  8. I know what you mean. I have to do presentations more than I would like and it is nerves every time. I find it so reassuring when people nod when I am presenting – and I try to remember that so that I can do the same thing when others are presenting.

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