Presenting – Focus on what you can control

Imagine someone asks you to deliver a presentation to the board in a few days’ time. You immediately start worrying about who will be there, how long the presentation will be and about the questions you won’t be able to answer…and all this before you’ve even put pen to paper to design your presentation!

A useful way to prevent being a rabbit in headlights, is to focus on your circles of concern and influence…

The things that fall into your circle of concern are the things you can’t control, or have very little control over, such as:

  • Who will be there
  • Where they will sit
  • The length of the required presentation
  • Who’s speaking before or after you

The things that fall into your circle of influence are all the things you can do something about, such as:

  • Your preparation
  • Room layout – (not in all cases. This may fall into you circle of concern)
  • How you manage and control your nerves
  • How you open and end your presentation
  • Your slides/handouts etc
  • Rehearsals
  • Your attitude

There’s nothing to gain from worrying about the things that fall into your circle of concern.  You should focus your energy on the things that fall into areas you can influence – the things you can control.

The PU View

We use this model a lot in our courses.  Originally made famous in the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey, we use the model to help people put things into perspective, in this case worrying about a presentation.  It isn’t to say you should completely ignore the things in your concern; for example, where the participants sit may fall into your circle of concern, however, after speaking with the organiser, you may be able to move people around.

In essence, it’s a really simple model that will hopefully help you to take a step back and calm you down!

Useful Resources

 If you’re a little nervous about presenting, a great book to read is Presentation Skills for Quivering Wrecks – a really down to earth book for of useful tips and advice

Here’s Mike sharing some of his thoughts on presenting on our YouTube channel

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