The Illusion of Transparency and Your Presentations

People tend to feel nervous when speaking in front of a big crowd or presenting a critical presentation. Often, they think that the audience knows how they are feeling and that makes them even more obnoxious. If you are one of those people, read on, this article is for you.

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Illusion of transparency. What is this?

First, you need to understand what the so-called Illusion of transparency is all about. To put it simply, this is the tendency of people to overestimate to what degree our thoughts or emotions are visible to those observing us. The problem is not that we believe in mind reading, but more in the fact that we fear that we are giving up too many clues of our feelings when we try to hide or suppress them.

Image of a audience listening to a seminar

However, is the effect of this illusion affecting us all in the same way? Well, no. Research shows that the more emotional people find it more difficult than the others. So how exactly does this bias affect us when we all know or at least – have heard – that public speaking is not that easy of a task and sometimes can be quite emotionally demanding. Let’s take a look:

  • Increased anxiety and nervousness – When you think that the audience can detect that you are nervous, that can lead to even more nervousness. This can also affect the quality your overall performance;
  • Too much overthinking over small mistakes – Mistakes happen. Yes, so what? When you make a mistake during a presentation that can lead to unnecessary frustration. You think that the audience saw the mistake and that it was obvious, but the chances are that’s not the case. However, you feel embarrassed and it’s… for no reason;
  • The need to apologize – All of the above create the urge to apologize to your audience. However, that could lead to confusion because your audience may not understand why you are apologizing in first place;

So how do you overcome all of this? Well, you already read and know about the illusion. This is a big first step of you overcoming it. And yes, we know – understanding that and seeing the science-backed research on the subject may be shocking to you at first but aren’t the findings significant?

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One last thing – have you experienced the Illusion of transparency? Let us know in the comments!

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