Presentation Skills Articles


Essential Presentation Skills

Overcoming Shyness

written by Jan D'Arcy

Do you describe yourself as "shy?" Have you ever avoided presenting information at a meeting, given up pursuing your dream job or stayed at home watching TV rather than engage in a social activity? You can overcome shyness by patience, practice, and determination.

Accept there are times when you may be self-conscious or nervous. Shyness is a part of your whole personality and instead of trying to rid yourself of this quality, promote other parts of your personality. Focus on being curious, enthusiastic, or interested in people around you.

1. Monitor your thoughts

Are you generating a string of negative assumptions that may never happen? 70-80% of our thoughts can be negative during a 24 hour period.

2. Substitute Positive Thoughts

"This would be a good job for me. I have lots of ideas to share with the interviewer to show I can be a productive part of their team." "That girl looks like she might be an interesting companion. I don't have to marry her if I ask her to go to a baseball game with me. If she says she's busy, she isn't necessarily rejecting me."

3. Take small steps to "put yourself out there"

Have realistic expectations. Run for an office in an organization that requires you to make a treasurer's report or give the minutes. Take up ballroom dancing or volunteer for a charity.

4. Focus your attention on others

Prepare possible questions and rehearse asking them. Then in a real situation, get others to talk and you can listen.

5. Develop an expertise in one or two subjects

If you are a cyclist, then you can feel confident discussing details about buying a bike or trips to take. You might learn Spanish or French or start researching and planning a trip to Europe.

6. Video tape yourself

Set up your camera and pretend to tell a story as if you were talking to a group of people you know. Play it back to see if your body language, facial expressions are open and approachable. Is your voice expressive? Do you forget to smile or not feel like smiling? Remember the song, "Whistle a Happy Tune?" The lyrics suggest holding yourself up and whistling. Soon the outward body language affects your emotions and you do feel like whistling. Practice again. Go through the motions of smiling, laughing, and leaning forward towards a person. Say to your self, "I'm having a good time." Then see if you can repeat this body language in a real situation.

7. Select a role model and act "as if"

What would Brad Pitt or Oprah do?

8. Be realistic and trust your social and professional abilities

Being shy does not make you a "bad" person. Most shy people are good listeners, well-mannered, helpful, and pleasant guests. Confident, out-going behavior will become easier as you embrace your shyness and focus your attention on other people. Good luck!

Remember :
Understanding is a prerequisite to acceptance.

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Try some of the techniques I have suggested. Let me know by email if they help you achieve rapport in your next presentation or you have further questions.

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