Prepare a presentation!
I would say I am generally pretty confident, good with clients existing and new, and extremely comfortable in most meetings. However, there is something about giving a pressured presentation that makes my legs turn to jelly, my voice develop a pretty serious stutter and my face and neck go an embarrassing red colour. I think it’s the fact that a group of people are staring directly at me with rarely any expression on their faces, hanging on each word I say and subconsciously judging me on several levels; what I look like, whether what I am saying is of any interest, whether I make them laugh, and ultimately whether they would give me a good review afterwards. Luckily I haven’t been heckled as yet so who knows where this irrational fear comes from although I have been told that it happens to quite a lot of people so at least I am not alone.
Unfortunately in my line of work it’s quite essential and definitely a bonus if I can deliver a pitch confidently and effectively and communicate ideas clearly, whether it is to a potential client or to the team here at Carbon Creative. Therefore I was lucky to attend a superb Presentation skills workshop at Media City a couple of weeks ago led by marketing and leadership expert Andrew Thomas to see if anything could be done about the annoying horror I feel when put in this situation.
I suppose I should of expected the day to be not so much about us being talked at but us actually having to do the talking (well, presenting!) and I would not of been wrong. I now see that this really was the best way to overcome some of the questions and fears I had about presenting and it was helpful to see a room of 20 people who all had completely different variations of presentation skills and fears all attempt the same thing. We worked on different tasks both alone and in groups and I was quite pleased to hear that I come across as a very likeable character. Well, it’s a good start. My flaws that were identified were that I repeat myself a bit and talk quite fast, all things I am aware of but the problem is how do I stop it?
We were shown that the answer really is preparation and structure as well as some core skills that go along with presenting such as projecting your voice, appearing enthused by what you are talking about and involving some two-way communication with your audience. Another really important lesson learnt is to really know your audience, include content and structure the presentation based on the personalities of the people you are presenting to if possible. I still have a long way to go but I definitely learnt some great tips to start me on the path to perfect presenting.
I am ready to put my new skills into action because at the end of the day it is only practise that makes perfect. Watch this space!