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Making Presentations to Colleagues: A Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 3 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Presentation Presentations Colleagues

For some people, the idea of making a presentation to their colleagues is no big deal; just part of the working week. For others, the very thought of speaking out in front of their peers makes them feel sick with nerves.

Unfortunately, Judy Forshaw, 28, fell into the latter group.

Judy told us, “I really love my job and I feel confident in my abilities, but somehow the idea of making a presentation to my colleagues fills me with dread and I know that I will come across as a jibbering idiot.”

Judy asked for some professional advice in order to get over her fear of internal presentations because, in her job as a medical sales representative, she needed to be able to present her achievements to her colleagues in order to get ahead in her career.

Judy explained, “My job as a medical rep involves making appointments with doctors and pharmacists and then showing them our latest products. I spend a lot of time driving around between appointments and a lot of time on the phone. I also meet with a number of drug companies to learn about their latest products. What is strange is that I have no trouble with one to one meetings; when I’m talking to customers I don’t feel nervous – I’m just doing my job. The problem comes when I have to present to my colleagues in our monthly meetings.”

A Weekly Meeting

Judy was required to attend a weekly meeting with her fellow sales reps to talk through their appointments for the coming week, their achievements from the previous week and discuss any new sales ideas for recently launched products. Each of the four reps took it in turns to host the weekly meeting, with the others sending their results to the ‘host’ by email. This meant that, once a month, Judy was required to host the Monday morning meeting, having gathered the information from her colleagues by the previous Friday.

Judy continued, “When I knew it was my turn to host coming up, it would literally stop me from sleeping. I would be fine gathering the reports from my colleagues and have no trouble writing up the overall report to present, but having to make the actual presentation would ruin my whole weekend. I wouldn’t be able to sleep and it would go round and round in my head.”

The advice Judy was given was to try to understand what element of the presentation was causing her so much stress and then try to rectify it. This was easier said than done!

Judy explained, “I knew it was irrational because it was not that I have a fear of talking to people. It was more a sense that I could do my job well when I was just left to get on with it, but I hated the idea of having to ‘prove’ myself in front of my colleagues.”

Moving Forwards

As Judy was able to identify that she felt uncomfortable ‘showing off’, we were able to work with Judy so that she could appreciate that this was an important part of her job – without being able to tell her colleagues what she was achieving at work, her efforts were often going unnoticed. We then worked with Judy to ensure that she had the presentation written on Saturday morning, rather than letting it loom across the whole weekend, and also to practice the presentation in front of the mirror so that it was not a ‘first time performance’ on the Monday morning.

Just found these measures very helpful and, within two months, had come to appreciate that she was perfectly capable of making a professional, informative presentation, which helped her gain a profitable promotion.

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