Afraid of Presenting to your New Boss? Here are 4 Ways You’re Making your Anxiety Worse

Your new role requires you to make presentations but you can’t stop quaking in your shoes. Are there things you’re doing that are fueling your fears? What are they and how can you ease your mind?

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While you’re excited about your recent promotion, you’ve been bugged out of your mind as this new role requires you to deliver presentations to the executive board. This would be the first time you’re presenting to them and you can’t seem to get your butterflies to fly in formation. Here are 4 ways you are boosting your anxiety.

Self-doubt: New roles come with new [most times, scary] expectations, no doubt. However, in order to live up to the expectations of a new role, you have to apply your skills and leverage experiences from your previous role. Being promoted doesn’t mean a loss of your mojo from the last role.

When you find yourself doubting your ability to present to a new boss or address a topic you’ve never spoken on before, remember how fierce you were in your last role. And if I were a betting lady, I’d put my money on this: the reason you were promoted to this new role is because you had demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, you were great on your last job and bulldozed initiatives that impressed your former boss. In other words, you earned your stripes. Focus on this to boost your confidence as you get ready for that presentation.

Judging Others and Yourself: When you’re judgmental, you are only focusing on the negative qualities in yourself and others. And no matter how well things are going with your preparation, you will tend to look for evidence to support your judgmental attitude. You’re going to look for things that will make the bosses look like they are out to get you. That’s when you begin to think, oh, they won’t like me, they’re often non-receptive to new ideas, they won’t give me their undivided attention, they will think I’m boring to listen to. With thoughts like these, all you’re doing is fueling your fear of speaking.

If you want to be in your best game and exude confidence on stage, you can’t afford to see your audience as enemies. Even if you’re speaking on a delicate topic, you have to trust in their ability to be open-minded (and/or in your ability to get them to be by applying your very sharp persuasive skills). Fear is a battle won or lost in the mind. Therefore, if you want to bring your most powerful self on the stage, you’ve got to get rid of those judgmental attitudes.

Assuming (and Expecting) the Worst will Happen: When you spend the days and nights leading up to your presentation thinking about all the bad things that can occur during your presentation, you become more nervous. The thing with assumptions is that if we’re not conscious about them, we tend to believe them to be true. Is your nervousness stemming from your assumptions that your new bosses won’t like your ideas? They would ask you difficult questions? Your tech will malfunction during your presentation? All of these are assumptions – they haven’t happened; they may never happen. With adequate planning and preparation, you will be great on stage. And if technology is a concern, have someone check it out, use them as you rehearse to ensure they’re in good working condition. After this, expect the best.

Perfectionism: As a recovering perfectionista, I’d tell you for free that perfectionism is a ruthless parasite. When you’re goal is to be “perfect”, you tend to set yourself up to fail by setting goals that are unattainable. This leaves you feeling less than, not enough, a failure. But that isn’t true. We know that for you to be saddled with the responsibility of delivering this presentation, you are competent enough; you’ve demonstrated in the past that you can do this.

So, instead of shooting for “perfect”, shoot for growth. Shoot for improvement from your last delivery. Let your goal be to outdo your last performance. The other thing I tell clients (and remind myself) is that if you stick with being perfect, you cease striving to be better (because in your mind there’s only one “perfect” score). Kenneth H. Blanchard once said that “all leaders are permanent learners”. This means that, not only does perfectionism sap your confidence mojo, you also start losing your leadership edge when you stop seeking for ways to improve on what you are already great at.

It’s normal to feel some anxiety about giving a presentation to a new audience – especially a high-level one. But know that you’ve got this. You earned this promotion. With enough practice, you will hit the home run with your delivery.

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