Dear Ms. Plaid:

I have been shy my entire life. Sometimes my shyness can come across aloof and unfriendly, but that is the farthest from the truth of who I am. I have recently been asked from my new boss to give a presentation to a group of colleagues and I am frozen in fear on how I will pull this off. What can I do to overcome my shyness so that I can give a successful presentation?

– Too Shy

Hello Too Shy,

First, you need to realize you are not alone. A large part of our population would consider themselves shy, and would also be stressing about the thought of standing in front of a group of people to give a presentation. Sometimes just knowing we are not alone in our fears and anxieties helps us feel less stressed about them.

Here are a few tips that might help you as you prepare to give the presentation:

First step is to breathe. Take a few slow deep breaths if you start feeling the anxiety creeping in during your presentation. The active practice of deep breathing relaxes the muscles of the body, it slows the heart rate down, and provides more oxygen to the brain to help stimulate calmness.

Second, write down your fears about giving the presentation. Are you worried about being judged by your colleagues? Are you worried you will forget the words of your presentation? Writing down what you are most worried about and rationally thinking over each scenario usually eases the mind of a “worst case scenario”. Most of the time our “what if’s” never happen. Being able to see your biggest concerns on paper and writing down possible outcomes usually helps me understand how irrational some of my anxieties are.

Finally, be yourself. Remember, your boss asked you to give the presentation for a reason. He/She believes in you and you should too.

Good luck with your presentation!

Ms. Plaid