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Liz Strauss

The saddest part of the story is that it takes so much less energy to be authentic.

People say to me, "I'm not good at presenting. I know presenters. I'm not one, but I have to talk to these people."

So I say to them, "That's how I would start, by telling them that very thing . . . that you feel that you're not very good at that, bet they tell you it doesn't matter; that they want to hear what you have to say."

When folks actually say what they are feeling, a bond is forged. The nervousness falls away and they talk to their audience as if they've been born to it.

Their response is always disbelief at how easy it was once they let themselves just say what they had to say.

Steve Roesler

You picked a really good example, Liz.

The whole notion of "presentations" conjures up performing vs. conversing & relating. Since everyone experiences some form of angst (unless they're arrogant or unaware) at the outset of a talk, it's merely a reflection of the human condition. Your suggestion to "name it" up front brings instant bonding; and the relational response from the group puts a neutralizing effect on the fear.

All because someone decided to be genuine--which then brought about a genuine response.

Thanks for stopping by and adding that to the conversation...

Jim Stroup

Thank you, Steve, for your generous treatment of my comments.

Liz highlights an important point about the fear of presenting - we all think those people are just sitting out there counting our mistakes, waiting an opportunity to point them out or laugh about them behind our back. But the truth is typically just the opposite: they came to hear us speak - they don't want to be bored or irritated (they'll probably be both if you pretend to be someone you're not), they want to find value in what you say - and they'll be actively looking for it - that's what they'll be counting, and waiting an opportunity to talk with you and each other about. They're on your side, both for your sake - and their own.

Great dialogue on this site - in the posts and comments both. Keep it up, Steve - and everyone!

Steve Roesler

You make a good point, Jim. When you're invited to speak it's for a reason, such as "We want you to speak to us because we are interested in what you have to say about Topic X!"

And you're dead on: my experience is that everyone is usually rooting for the speaker because we all know that between the research, design, and delivery, it's not a cakewalk.

So why not be yourself since that's who they invited?

Billy Smith

Great post and great comments. It is funny that you are talking presenting because for the longest time I had the hardest time public speaking because I feared people judging me. I finally realized a) how selfish that is because it is not about me, but the content and b) people's feedback most of the time is given to build me up not tear me down.

I finally got over that fear and realized I am here to share and not to worry about what i "receive."

One of the great illustrations I have ever read about authenticy, feedback, and how you view yourself was of a Fun House Mirror. Dr Tim Elmore talks about how we look into these mirrors and we see ourselves distorted, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad, but it is not a true image of ourselves. The challenge is to find a straight mirror.


Steve Roesler


I like your insights:

First, the illustration using the fun house mirror. It's so true, isn't it? Regardless of the mirror, it's often distorted. The challenge is to develop trusted sources to help us become a little more effective while remaining ourselves in the process.

The second is the simple but profound gesture of giving vs. receiving. What a helpful way for speakers to frame their task and put the emphasis in the right place.

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