Of the four types of presenters, Resisters have the most in common with Refusers. For our purposes, we can really just consider them to be Refusers who can’t or don’t say “no.” They’d really rather not speak to an audience but for whatever reason they’re able to make the leap that the Refusers can’t. Maybe their job requires them to do some occasional public speaking or they find themselves in a social situation that requires them to step out of their comfort zone. Many would-be Refusers find themselves forced to speak at things like weddings and funerals, where the emotional content of the event makes it extremely hard to say no.
Pretty much every Refuser who attempts to overcome their fear of public speaking goes through a Resister phase as they get more comfortable. The challenge for resisters is to stop thinking about the possibility of refusing a speaking assignment and just accept the opportunity, because the more you focus on your fear the more likely it is to paralyze you or negatively effect your presentation. Unfortunately, since they decline every opportunity to speak that they can, Resisters often don’t get as much practice at presenting as they need in order to improve their skills. They don’t get familiar with the tools of public speaking and tend to always think of themselves as nervous speakers.
In my own experience, I never really felt confident speaking to a group until it was something that was part of my routine responsibilities. When I started graduate school I suddenly found myself teaching classes several times a week and simply had no choice but to do it if I wanted to stay enrolled in school and get paid. Most of the stuff that I studied as a Literature student may not apply in my professional life, but learning that with a little preparation I could get up and lead a discussion was immensely valuable and helped me land my first “real” job as a trainer.
The challenge for any Resister is to stop focusing on their fear so they don’t start to backslide into Refusing. Try thinking of your presentations as opportunities to succeed rather than to fail; I can almost guarantee that focusing on the positive aspects will help you overcome your nerves. And as much as you can, try to think of presentations as a normal part of your everyday life and career rather than as momentous and possibly disastrous events.