How to overcome overwhelm when writing a speech or creating a new presentation

Hint - think about you would eat an elephant!

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed and stressed by some looming speech or presentation you had to deliver?

You procrastinated like crazy, say by tidying your desk yet again or scrolling mindlessly through your social media feed – anything other than attacking the task at-hand! And then you felt disgusted with yourself for your lack of progress and you beat yourself up afterwards for wasting all that time and not being “responsible”.

When this state of overwhelm hits me, I remind myself of the saying: “How do you eat an elephant?” With the answer being “One bite at a time”.

Sorry to the vegetarians out there for bringing up this comparison. And just for the record, I would never in a million years even contemplate eating an elephant! But the analogy illustrates the importance of breaking things down into the tiniest, most manageable and bite-sized chunks, a.k.a. The Divide and Conquer approach.

To get started, I simply do a brain-dump of everything swirling around my mind.

I either write down all the points down on a piece of paper or draw a mind map to visually represent the task in its entirety.

Seeing everything in black and white on paper, and freed out of my head, converts the task from being nebulous to doable and tangible.

Let’s say you have a high-stakes presentation to deliver to Senior Management.

You feel quite overwhelmed and intimidated by the scope of the whole thing.

Start to break it all down.

You determine that you need to:

  • Fully understand the requirements e.g. Who exactly will be there? Are there any pain points you need to address?
  • Design the presentation structure and content
  • Create your slides
  • Obtain your resources e.g. images and videos
  • Learn and become familiar with the presentation
  • Rehearse the presentation from go to whoa, becoming comfortable with the technology
  • Create handouts

The key is to keep breaking each step down to its most granular form, until you have an actionable to-do-list item, that you can actually do.

Then simply schedule the individual to-do list items for completion in your calendar.

When you attack the project like this, one tiny bite at a time, you can say goodbye once and for all to feelings of overwhelm, and say hello to less stress and more productivity!

Originally published on

© 2021 Susan Weser.  All rights reserved.

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