A few years back I found myself in a situation where I had allowed myself to get roped into delivering a presentation to a university class. I was going to be talking about what I had learned during my IT career – a somewhat painful and introspective topic. My excitement level was at zero.
I put off creating the speech until the last minute. I threw together some slides the morning of the speech. I ended up showing up just a few minutes before the class started. All three of these actions are not how I do things – what was going on here?
The presentation ended up going ok (everyone clapped at the end). However, I was seriously troubled – why had such a simple speech come so close to being a disaster so many times? After running things through my mind a few times I came to realize that I had been a victim of self-sabotage!
I really, really didn’t want to do this speech. It turns out that because of this mind-set, I was working actively to make sure that the speech would never happen (don’t write the speech, don’t prepare the slides, don’t show up). Dang – what was going on here?
Kevin Hogan is both a psychologist and a speaker. His take on all of this is “Essentially, self-sabotage is consciously or unconsciously blocking yourself from succeeding or accomplishing some task or project.” Well there you go. It turns out that we all have some of this going on, but sometimes it can get out of hand.
What’s a presenter to do? First, you need to be aware that you are engaging in self-sabotage. Once you realize that it’s happening, you’ll be better able to deal with it. Next, use affirmations – tell yourself that you are good at what you are going to be doing. The simple act of saying this to yourself can go a long way. Finally, dig in – focus on what you want to get accomplished and shut out any negative noises that are coming from inside.
It turns out that I must have done better than ok on my presentation to that class because they’ve asked me back twice a year since then. I now look forward to this presentation because it the audience is always appreciative and it give me a chance to try out new material and techniques. I’m glad that I didn’t let self-sabotage do me in!
Have you ever found yourself trying to sabotage one of your presentations? What were you trying to do? How did you fight back? Who won in the end? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.