These boots were made for presentin’ | A presentation activity

Inner shoes.png

I designed this creative visualisation activity on a project where it was ultimately not used and I’ve got permission to share it here. It could potentially be included in a workshop on presentation skills or as a stand-alone activity run in a team huddle or meeting.

Have you ever used creative visualisation? What sort of visual imagery do you incorporate?


Overview

Creative visualisation may help presenters manage their nerves through calming visual imagery, a technique borrowed from acting. This particular activity also uses shoes as metaphors for qualities associated with confident presenters. The technique can be used to calm nerves before a presentation. It puts presenters in a positive mind frame by focusing the inner voice on something productive instead of negative self-talk.

The handout offers a range of visualisation prompts because different people have different sources of anxiety and they’ll need to find a visualisation that works for them. Each visualisation begins with putting on a pair of ‘inner’ shoes and ends with a destination or goal that represents success.

Objective

  • Use creative visualisation as a way of managing nerves just before a presentation.

Procedure

  • Pair off participants and ask them to look at the shoes in the handout and suggest how wearing these different types of shoes might make them feel.
  • Point out to participants that wearing ‘inner’ shoes could potentially boost their confidence in a presentation.
  • Get them to discuss the sorts of situations they would want to wear these inner shoes in. For example, you are nervous and you feel really cold and stiff at the start of a presentation at an industry meet. Imagining yourself in football cleats might help you kick your presentation off with some energy. Some possible responses are given below.
  • Ask participants to recall a presentation where they experienced some nervousness. Get them to close their eyes and talk them through the following creating visualisation:

Your presentation starts in 5 minutes. Your mind is racing and you can’t focus because you are thinking about a million things. You reach out grab on a pair of your inner flip-flops and put them on. Feel the tension melt away from your body. Relax your shoulders. Take deep breaths. When you feel your breathing starting to slow, let your hands hang loose by your side. You’re walking on a soft sandy beach. Feel the sand between your toes. You hear waves in the distance. You look up and see a calm blue sea stretching out in front of you. As the tide goes out, you walk towards the rising sun on the horizon.

  • Have participants work in pairs to look through the other visualisation prompts in the toolkit and choose one that they find useful. Participants then practise the creative visualisation prompt with their partners. Encourage them to add details that make the visualisation feel more real.

Debrief

  • Use the following questions to debrief the activity:
    • Why is this kind of visualisation useful when you’re nervous?
    • Our inner voices sometimes trigger nervousness through negative self-talk. How does the visualisation of ‘inner’ shoes help with this?
    • Why does each visualisation end with a destination or a goal?

Suggested responses 

  1. Flip-flops: relaxed, casual, calm
  2. Sneakers: comfortable, easy-going
  3. Rain boots/wellingtons: persistent, determined
  4. Cowboy boots: self-assured, poised, strong
  5. Football/soccer cleats: dynamic, active, energetic
  6. Hiking boots: adventurous, daring

Download the handout from the following link ⬇️

Image attribution: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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