They Don't Like Me

Manufacturing Millionaires

Sherry Knight

President & CEO at

Imagine standing in front of an audience, the sweat pouring off you because you are afraid they don’t like you! Been there, done that! It was my very first time in front of an audience – trust me, it was not the last time the sweaty palms have come into the picture! Why the nerves? Because I had no idea of the reception I might get and so I allowed my mind to take over.

The mind is a powerful thing. It can push you forward and pull you back – all without you even realizing it. When it pulls you back it forces you to focus on what’s not working. This is when you get the sweaty palms, the knees that shake, stomach that feels like it will leave you any moment and even the dry mouth that sometimes stops you from even speaking.

It could happen to you – maybe it already has. Whether it has or not let’s talk about how to keep it from happening. It’s mindset!

Often it has come from something that occurred way back – something that made you feel you weren’t okay. For me, I do believe it was that first time where I had stage fright – not able to remember the first word of what was to come out of my mouth to get started. I froze and it took me three attempts to be
able to get that first word out. Once the first word was out of my mouth I could carry on. That experience caused all kinds of trauma for me as I began to speak in front of audiences all over the world.

I overcame the fear and got the butterflies flying in formation. And you can too! Don’t let the fear people not liking what you have to say stop you; push through to the other side.

You know the majority of these thoughts are in your mind – the jittery feeling of the butterflies flying in every which direction except the direction where you want them to fly! It’s a lack of confidence in this area. This may sound foolish, after all you have confidence as an employer, employee, community volunteer, parent and on and on, unfortunately this is different. Suddenly you have thrust yourself into
unfamiliar territory. Now you are in a situation you wanted to be in and yet feeling very insecure.

Let’s look at this one step at a time…

1. Be prepared

Prepare your presentation – decide on the content you want to present and then how you want the audience to be involved. Add to that the stories you have from your own life.

Content – this is the passion you have in your heart and you want to share with your audience so they can be successful without the challenges you have had. List the key points you want to make then consider the time – the less time you have the fewer key points you want to make.

Involvement – when you get your audience involved in one way or another you connect with them and you have the beginning of a relationship. Involvement may be as simple as asking your audience to put a hand up, move their head up and down or close their eyes for a visualization.

Stories – you have had so many stories that relate to the topic you have chosen. Choose the ones that best fit your topic and your audience.

Put it all together – and here is the secret. Start your presentation with your BEST story for that topic and audience. Save your second-best story for your close. And put your other stories somewhere in between.

By being prepared your brain will have fewer reasons to begin to doubt you.

Now that you know what you need to do initially it’s time to get to work. Develop your presentation.

2. Practice

Now that you know what you want to say, it’s time to practice, practice, practice. Make your presentation at least 10 times. Listen to your tone, the speed and the slowness of your voice – hear how your audience will hear your voice. Know where to put your pauses. Make a few practice runs to your ghost audience before you make your presentation to your mirror.

Why a mirror? Because now you can see your facial expressions and your arm movements as you speak. Perhaps you like what you see and perhaps you want to make some adjustments.
After this it’s time to gather the family or friends to practice in front of a few times so you feel more comfortable with what you are saying.

Practice is what allows the brain to establish new patterns (they’re actually called neuropathways if you want the technical term) and these new patterns are what you will rely on when you make your presentation in front of an audience.

By creating a new pathway, you are creating an automatic thought for the brain to go to – it’s like creating a new habit. Your brain forms new circuits that get easier to access and send the message faster each time we repeat the thought. At one time you learned how to tie your shoes and how to ride a bike; after much practice it became so automatic you didn’t even think about it – you just did it.

3.Get a good night's sleep

Amazing, isn’t it? Something as simple as a good night’s sleep makes you less fearful. The brain sends messages to parts of the body throughout your sleep to repair the areas not as perfect as they should be.

When you awaken after a good night’s sleep you have more energy, more focus and you feel more rested and healthy. This allows the brain to focus on what it is you want to focus on. In fact, studies indicate after a good night’s sleep people retain information better and they perform better on memory tasks.

That may be as John Steinbeck once noted, "it is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it." The important stuff gets reinforced – that which you practiced while the unimportant we just don't need get trashed

4. Water

Stay hydrated – dehydration messes up your brain. You can’t focus, you forget things and sometimes your mouth is dry making it hard for you to speak.

All in all, the lack of water can undo all the fabulous things you have done to make yourself strong for your presentation. The lack of hydration on the brain can be devastating – it causes us mental fatigue, memory problems, and mental confusion. Your grey matter can even shrink. Yikes, that’s no good!

Many think soda, black tea and coffee suffice. Not! They are acidic and do not provide the hydration you require. Plain water is what you want.

The benefits of water are clear thinking and an ability to concentrate and it improves the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Just what you need before you begin your presentation.

You might want to take a bottle of water with you so you can have a drink just before you begin your presentation. You can also ask a sponsor to ensure there is a glass of water close to wherever you will be presenting.

5. Focus

Spend your time prior to beginning your presentation in a quiet area so you can focus on what it is you need to keep your butterflies flying in formation.

Focus on success – leave the negative thoughts behind. However, when they pop into your mind as in, “What am I doing here… no one will want to listen to me… I’m not an expert… they’ll see me as a fake… they won’t like me…”.

When these thoughts pop into your mind put your hand up facing away from you in the manner of STOP. It’s okay, remember, you are in a private area and all alone so no one will see you do this, and then say, “I am changing that thought!” Now replace those thoughts with, “I have every right to be here… everyone wants to know what I have to say… I have experience… they’ll see me as a person who wants to help… they’ll like me…”.
Another way to focus is to take time to sit in quiet contemplation and with eyes closed visualize your presentation and the audience. See how they react to certain aspects of your delivery, focus on the good outcomes so the visualization is presenting you as calm, relaxed and involved.

It is up to you how you choose to focus. The key thing is to ensure you do so you are grounded. Grounding questions and statements are very helpful in calming those erratic nerves.

6. Start

Briskly stride to the front of the audience. If someone is introducing you walk up to them, shake their hand, turn to the audience and stop.

Look out across the audience, get your bearings, plant your feet firmly shoulder length apart and smile at your audience. Then, and only then are you ready to open your mouth and have your first words come out.

All eyes are transfixed on you at this moment and now is the time for you to make your initial impact. Go for it! You can do it!

Do you want more information about making presentations?

If you choose to focus on people not liking you, the chances are good that this will be true. Remember, we are perfect just the way we are until we believe otherwise. When we have a belief, the universe conspires to help us make that belief become reality.

Which reality do you want? The one where people don’t like you or the one where the people do like you. It is your choice, you get to decide – which choice will you choose?


Sherry Knight

President & CEO


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