Alistair clearly knew his subject but what was frightening him was the thought of the major presentation that he was going to be making in a month's time.
Sheepishly, he acknowledged that he had managed to avoid making presentations in the past choosing instead to delegate the task to his assistant manager.
But on this occasion, his assistant was working on a two month contract abroad leaving Alistair with little choice but to get to grips with his fear of standing up in front of two hundred people for an hour.
Firstly, I asked Alistair to describe the emotions he was feeling regarding the prospect of making the presentation. Not surprisingly, he said that he felt overwhelming fear particularly at the thought of making a fool of himself.
I spoke briefly with Alistair about the sub-conscious mind and pointed out that its role as a "slave" meant that it would tend to deliver whatever Alistair spent his time thinking about.
By focusing on fear and the thought of making a fool of himself, Alistair was actually asking his sub-conscious mind to make this a reality for him. I cited the example of a client of mine who insisted that every Christmas he would come down with a cold.
Alistair's eyes lit up with dawning comprehension when I pointed out that my client actually had no need for a cold each Christmas, but that because he believed he would have one, he was effectively programming his mind to produce a cold for him.
What Alistair needed was more than just positive thinking. I asked him to describe how he physically knew that he was experiencing fear. He explained that he felt his throat constricting and his stomach had "butterflies".
I enquired whether he enjoyed roller coaster rides at fun fairs and Alistair vigorously nodded and smiled. He acknowledged that before a ride he felt a great sense of anticipation and excitement.
"And how do you physically experience anticipation and excitement?" I asked. Again, Alistair replied that he experienced both emotions physically as throat constriction and butterflies in his stomach.
It wasn't hard for Alistair to make the connection between the physical sensations that he was experiencing and the labels that he was giving them. After employing a few Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques with him, Alistair was soon able to envisage his forthcoming presentation with a sense of anticipation and excitement.
Finally, I asked him to spend ten minutes each morning and evening focusing on his giving a brilliant presentation and to imagine the elation he would experience when everyone started clapping at the end of the event, perhaps even giving him a standing ovation!
© Olivia Stefanino 2004
Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and excecutive coach, who works with blue chip organisations, SMEs and individuals. To find out more and to download your free e-booklet "128 ways to harness your personal power", visit http://www.beyourownguru.com