Don’t picture the audience naked, that’s just wrong!


Everyone has heard it at some point in their lives from well-meaning friends or colleagues.

“Just picture your audience naked”, seems like a simple piece of advice, but it could actually be doing more harm than good for your presentation skills.

The adage has become a popular solution to calming nerves in many situations, from public speaking to presenting in the boardroom, and it’s no surprise. Anxiety before public speaking is common, triggering spikes of adrenaline in your system.

Those shaking hands, butterflies in the stomach and cold sweats are not actually an emotional response, but your “flight or fight” mode kicking in to handle perceived danger.

The good news about biological stress response triggers is that they can be harnessed to your advantage.
And you won’t even have to spy a glimpse of your bosses’ bare shoulders.

Picturing the audience naked is great in theory, the idea behind it is to “level the playing field”, establishing the vulnerability of everyone else in the room; however, this technique provides more distraction than action.

I’d like you to imagine you’re standing in front of an auditorium full of naked people right now.

There are nude ushers showing bare latecomers to their seats, and the panel of distinguished visitors are shuffling papers in their birthday suits ready for your ideas.

You take to the stand, and look out into the packed room of bodies, each in Emperor’s New Clothes. Bill from Accounting is sporting more body hair than you’ve ever seen, and Sally the Receptionist’s zipper scar is on full display.

Confronting isn’t it?

There is enough to remember with the data, stats and marketing initiatives you’re about to take the room through, without your mind fixating on the fact the CEO of the company you’re presenting to has a Tweety Bird tattoo on his chest.

A quick Google search will show you there are plenty of sources with tips on how to calm your nerves or get through a presentation without being anxious.

The fact of the matter is – and you’re not going to like it – but you will experience a level of nervousness, and that’s OK.

Even the most high-profile speakers and celebrities have dealt with stage fright at some time in their career.

But, if you can sit with the discomfort of that for a short amount of time (which you absolutely can!), you’re already on the winning path to nailing each and every presentation.

A much better method than “picturing the audience naked” is to use your own fear to drive you forward.

The flight or fight response is preparing the body for fast-paced action, so whilst your speeding heart rate, tense muscles and heavy breathing are concerning in the moment, your body has just prepared you for action mode without you having to do a thing.

Some of the benefits from this anxiety are:
– Your hearing becomes more sensitive
– Your vision becomes clearer
– You become faster

By priming your body for action, you’re better prepared to perform under pressure. Pre-arousal levels return to normal between 20 minutes – 60 minutes after the perceived threat, and if you’re an experienced speaker but still experience pre-presentation jitters, you’ll know that a short time after you start, you’ll get into the flow and everything will return to normal.

So before you make a real butt of yourself, it’s a good idea to leave the nudity for the bedroom and out of the boardroom.

Need further help calming those public speaking nerves?

Slidesho can help you feel confident with a beautifully presented presentation that clearly outlines your objectives.

We can assure you our professional team will stay fully clothed whilst helping you hit your business goals!

Written by Paige Hart for Slidesho.

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