Big Presentations in Small Rooms book cover

Big Presentations in Small Rooms

helping ordinary people communicate with extraordinary effectiveness



It was a peaceful scene. My wife and I were sitting at a picnic table overlooking a valley. It was day two at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. We were resting after our hike and our encounter with Ruger, The Guardian Goat Dog. We smiled about the memory, it was a nice moment. So quiet. So beautiful.

And then there was a rumbling behind us. We turned just in time to see horses running down the hill toward us. At first, it was scary. We were on a grassy knoll; the tree line was too far away to find shelter there.

And then we realized that the picnic table was a big enough obstacle. If we just stayed still, we would be fine. And then it became fun. We were like an island in a river. Safe if we stayed in place.

Four horses came by, and then I reached for my phone to capture the next wave of horses. They came by and were soon on a lower level of the valley. The horses came, they passed, they left. And the experience became a memory.

Presentation stress can feel like a herd of wild horses.
Do not let fear trample you. Harness the stress. Photo by Florin Beudean on Unsplash;

At Big Presentations, many of our students are not trained speakers. They are accountants, engineers, supervisors, and small business owners. And occasionally, there is a need for them to step up and share information or sell an idea.

When those times come, it can feel a little like my experience with the horses. The peace is shattered by a need to speak.

How can you face that stress in healthy ways? Here are three ideas.


First, remember that the stress is temporary. Perhaps a familiar quote comes to mind when you read this.

“This, too, shall pass.” (Persian Adage and fun song by OK Go)

When contemplating an upcoming presentation, it helps to step past it and look back at it.

Sometimes I talk to myself. Really. I speak aloud to myself and say things like, “In two days, I will be looking back on this presentation.”

This reminds me that the stress is temporary. It creates positive anticipation.

If the presentation goes well, I will be pleased and relaxed in that reality.

If something goes wrong, I will be educated, experienced, and better prepared for the next opportunity.

Either way, it will be over, and life will continue!

Presentation stress is temporary.

Contemplate. This too shall pass.
Presentation Stress is temporary. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash;


Presentation stress can be helpful–if you allow it to be helpful. Think of the stress as an accountability partner. This partner wants you to succeed, so it will not let you forget about the opportunity. It will push you to prepare, and it will provide the energy needed to have a good presence.

Think of the stress as a biological alarm clock. It goes off to remind you that you have an important opportunity on the horizon. So, listen to the alarm and allow it to prompt you to prepare.

Prepare while knowing that this moment will pass. The stress is temporary, and soon you will be able to see the results of your preparations.

Presentation stress prepares you to launch.
Presentation stress prepares you to launch. Photo by Ian Noble on Unsplash;


When the first wave of horses passed, the second wave was much less stressful. The first experience was only seconds old, but it still lessened the fear of the second one. Amazing! That is the power of experience.

Enough talk about horses. What does this look like in real life? Here is an example.

A friend is in the application and interview process of finding a new job. Interviews are stressful small-room encounters. And she does not like having a spotlight. The first few interviews were extremely stressful. We talked about looking into the future and thinking of stress in positive ways. Those mindsets  were helpful.

But neither application was as powerful as the gaining of experience. With only a handful of interviews behind her, the stress level had decreased significantly. She is so thankful!

Just recently, she called after an interview and said,  “That was not as stressful. I think it is getting easier.”

And this makes sense. Her experience is proving the first two mindsets. She can look back on times when the interview came, passed, and went. She is looking back on them now. She knows—from experience—that the stress is temporary.

My friend was also able to see that her stress can provide energy and accountability. The work of preparations helped lower the stress… and that same work allowed her to perform better in the interview. Win-win!

Job interviews create presentation stress
Job interviews create presentation stress. Harness it. Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash;

Remember. You are developing a set of skills as you learn to prepare, practice, and deliver presentations.  Skill development is a journey. You will encounter unfamiliar territory on that trek. The unfamiliarity will cause stress. When that happens, remember that the stress is temporary, it will help you focus, and it will lessen with experience.

And as your experience grows, you will be able to help other travelers. You will be a voice of wisdom and encouragement as they face the stress of their journeys.

Are you looking for a community of encouragement and guidance? Join The Workplace Presentations Hub and receive a bonus resource, “Quick Tips for Storytelling.”

Want to hear more? Check out The Big Presentations Podcast.

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