The results were outstanding with levels of anxiety reduced significantly. I was short on time and had many people to coach. So I implemented a program of short interventions over a 12-week period. This is what we did:
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Presentation Anxiety
In addition to my coaching and facilitation work I also tutor and guest lecture in communication. Last semester I decided to offer free coaching to those students who suffer from presentation anxiety. This coaching had to occur at the end of the tutorial and before my next class started. So I had about 20 – 30 minutes to work with the students. Two at a time. In total I had about 14 students. Over 10 weeks.
The backbone of the coaching was HRV and how they can create physiological, emotional and consequently cognitive coherence. I also taught them basic delivery and structuring skills.
- Students reported that they were dropping into states of coherence automatically after six weeks when confronted by stressful situations inside and outside university.
- Those who had physical manifestations of nervousness – voice shaking, blushing, slouching, reliance on notes – reported these totally gone or significantly reduced to an extent that they were no longer an issue.
- Clarity of thought was significantly improved.
With groups of two people, with short interventions conducted consistently over a period of 10 weeks we can achieve physiological, emotional and behavioural change in the context of presentation anxiety.
What does this mean in a corporate context?
Presentation anxiety manifests itself in many different ways – forgetfulness, shaking and poor delivery are just some. Not only does this reinforce the anxiety associated with presenting and reducing performance in general, but the individuals personal branding could suffer which potentially limits career advancement.
Sometimes this goes untreated or is addressed by attending a general presentation skills training course, which may or may not help. Coaching may not be an option as staff may be too junior to qualify.
A solution is to conduct these mini coaching sessions in pairs over a period of 10 – 12 weeks.
We now have evidence that it is highly effective and given the time and number of coachees the ROI is high.