You hope nobody would find your Google search history right now.
“How to be more confident”
“Why am I so insecure”
“How to love yourself”
“How to have positive self-esteem”
Why does your life have to be so cringe-worthy whenever you’re asked to speak?
It’s 2am and you thought about how much you embarrassed yourself today, or didn’t give your all for something that seemed so simple.
Now, I laugh at what happened to me two years ago when my Psychology professor asked four students to present a business idea in front of about twenty other classmates.
It didn’t have to be the next Apple or Microsoft.
There was a theme, though. It was Fusion.
We had to combine two or more ideas together into one business idea and whoever presented it in the most convincing way would get the extra points.
I didn’t have any problems with ideation.
My idea was a parking space finder app that would earn through ads and premium services.
I talked to the three others that my professor chose, and they had decent ideas as well.
Honestly I forgot what they were, and didn’t pay too much attention because my professor picked me last to present my idea.
Instead of listening, I only thought of what my classmates would think of me.
My hand was on my chest, making sure my heart wouldn’t palpitate too much.
…or to check if I was still alive.
God, I hope I don’t have an anxiety attack in the middle of presenting.
I’ve never peed my pants but what if I do.
What if this, what if that.
“Nicah, you’re up.”
I stood up, walked towards the front and center part of the room, and started to talk about the app.
“My app is about combining technology and convenience.”
A few more lines after that, I could feel my heart rate increasing.
“I will earn with this app through-”
I looked around the room and saw everyone watching me.
My heart felt like it stopped. The room was spinning.
I don’t get it. I’ve spoken in front of everybody before.
Why was this happening?
I’m going to die.
My professor’s eyebrow was raised at this point.
I looked around the room one more time.
“OH MY GOD I CAN’T DO THIS!”
I screamed and ran to the door like a little girl.
The whole class laughed.
Okay, it might have been funny, but it won’t be funny when they’re not students.
If that happened in front of the school heads or potential investors, they probably would never associate themselves with me.
They would be ashamed I even went to that school.
I was able to present it well the second time around.
But outside the four walls of classrooms, most of the time we don’t get second chances.
Do you see how much is at stake because of your lack of confidence?
Can you count the times you missed an opportunity because you
didn’t have the confidence to speak up and tell them what you want,
or do what you wanted to?
Do you remember the time when you recited a book report in class in
the most boring way possible because you were too afraid to change
things up a little but you were imagining ideas on how to present it already?
Why do we have a lack of confidence?
Because we have low self-esteem.
The causes of low self-esteem can range from trauma, disapproving authority figures, negative thought patterns, etc.
But are you going to let these factors take control over you?
With confidence, say it with me, “OF COURSE NOT!”
Looking back at the classroom incident, here’s why I ran.
I Kept Overthinking It.
What about everyone else? What if they think I’m incompetent? What if they think I’m-
The audience wants you to succeed.
You don’t go to a broadway show or a movie hoping it would suck.
My mistake here was thinking about myself the whole time.
I forgot that my classmates were here to learn just like me, and I should get over myself.
They wanted to hear a business idea.
I could have talked to them as if it was a one on one conversation with a friend.
Presentations should be like that.
Take the deep breath.
Take the pressure off ourselves.
And say our message.
I was Visualizing the Wrong Way.
Did you know that our subconscious mind is not able to distinguish between an event that we imagine and an event that has already taken place?
Before even coming in front of the class, I already imagined failing.
So what did my brain do? Remember all the other times I failed that had no relation to what I was going to talk about that day.
Way to go, self-esteem!
That was what probably induced the anxiety attack in the middle of presenting.
Visualize yourself in a positive light.
It’s immensely effective.
You can read about an article I wrote about it here.
I Wasn’t Relaxed.
Overthinking plus wrong visualization plus nervousness equals disaster.
“Relax” is the word I always hear before I would get up onstage or in front.
My nerves would get all crazy. I didn’t know any methods on how to relax.
After thorough research and some practice, I found methods that worked in my next presentations.
Such as breathing exercises, starting the day with an awesome pep talk, pumping myself up, and taking the time to talk to audience members beforehand to better understand them.
It takes constant practice.
But trust me, you’ll get the hang of it eventually and it’ll feel like the most natural thing ever.
The first step to improving is gaining awareness on our mistakes and coming up with a plan to overcome them.
It takes a lot of courage and confidence to admit our mistakes, and I admitted one of my worst.
But what came out of it?
A better speaking experience for myself and my audience.
Take your first step and let me know in the comments on how your lack of confidence contributed to an embarrassing story but something we can learn from.
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