I was not a natural presenter; my natural relaxed outgoing nature completely deserted me when I stood up in front of a group of my colleagues to practice presenting a topic I knew all about!
I’ve been working as a facilitator of groups and individuals for 15 years. Prior to that I worked in various marketing roles for 13 years. As I progressed in my marketing career an increasing part of my job involved presenting to colleagues and customers – this was not an area of my job that I particularly enjoyed. I still recall very clearly my very first presentation skills course that I attended as a participant over 20 years ago. I was not a natural presenter; my natural relaxed outgoing nature completely deserted me when I stood up in front of a group of my colleagues to practice presenting a topic I knew all about!
If my experience describes how you feel about presenting, you’re not alone. Years ago, I carried out a survey on what people feared in life – the results were staggering – people reported they’d rather face a life or death situation than stand up in front of a group of people and present to them! The great news is that presenting is not only a skill you can learn, it can become, not only something you enjoy and are good at, but also something that becomes a large part of your source of income.
I now work with groups and individuals who want to improve both their skills in presenting and also their confidence in doing so. My work has taken me to almost all continents in the world and all because I overcame my fear of presenting and learned how to do it in a way that makes it engaging, persuasive and memorable for my audiences. I present to small and large groups and also get taken to companies’ annual conferences to coach their conference speakers to do a great job and motivate and engage their teams to create a memorable event to carry them through the following year.
Becoming a great presenter will benefit you in many ways; it will help raise your personal and professional profile, it puts you at the centre of the room and helps you to stand out from the crowd in a meeting. Presenting to groups means that you’ll be able to influence a greater number of people every time you speak and will make you different to the vast majority of people who present “because they have to” – the problem with that approach is that their audiences suffer alongside them!
The skills of a great presenter include being able to structure your information in a way that is memorable and engaging. Great presenters connect with their audiences by creating stories and using their language to creating pictures and feelings inside of their audiences’ minds. Great presenters know how to choose their words carefully in order to optimise their key messages and how to play with their voices in order to connect with their audiences. Great presenters are also nice to watch; their body language conveys a relaxed confidence and paints a picture to underline what they’re saying.
Common Mistakes presenters make:
Trying to share everything you know about a subject – the most popular presentation tool is Microsoft Office PowerPoint and the saying “death by PowerPoint” wasn’t coined for no good reason!
Forgetting that you’re talking to people – losing your personality when you stand up in front of a group.
Not having a clear outcome and call to action so nothing changes as a result of your presentation.
Some Top Tips for Great Presenters to whet your appetite:
Preparation! There is no substitute. The most relaxed, casual presenters have spent time in preparing – that’s why they can appear so relaxed. They are ready, they know their subject and what they want to communicate so then they can concentrate on connecting with their audience.
Create a Story that is emotive and connects with your audience – to do this, you have to have done your preparation and know your audience!
It’s not just what you will present, but how you will present. Most presenters think about what to say and what slides to show. They seldom take that thinking out to how they will say it. This is the difference that makes the difference.
With so much knowledge ready to be shared, Sarah Urquhart is running a very special 2 day workshop for those of you who would like to become Practically Perfect Presenters.
Posted 2059 Days Ago in: Coach Spotlight
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