If you don’t even get up and try – of course you can’t present! Four stages on the route to be a good presenter & to speaking in public with confidence and clarity

StepsOn a recent two day Presentation Skills for Phenomenal Women, one of the delegates said on day one, ‘ I just can’t do this.  How do you manage to do it so naturally and confidently?’

What would her response have been if I had said, ‘ Well… I was born with this skill and as soon as I could talk I had the ability to craft a message, sequence and structure a powerful presentation and the delivery techniques of persuasive language, pauses and voice texture just appears magically’.  Surprised and unbelieving I am guessing.

The thing is, presentation skills can be learned and the more people deliver presentations, the better they can get.  But they do have to get out there and present.  It makes sense that if you only ever present once a year, then you will make slow progress.  If you present regularly and review, then what was once unnatural becomes natural, what once seemed a huge hurdle becomes a small hump, what once was impossible becomes possible. We talk about the cycle of learning that begins with:

Unconsciously incompetent – we watch a great speaker and we don’t know what we don’t know. It all looks so natural and easy and elegant.

Consciously incompetent – we try it out and suddenly realise there is more to it that meets the eye!  How do you start? What words do we use? How do you stand when everyone is looking at you? How do you make the slides work?  This is uncomfortable ( & exciting!) and sometimes people give up at this point. ‘I can’t do this…” they say.

Consciously competent – when we start to learn and we do more of it, then suddenly we become very self-conscious and realise we can do it.  And we are aware of our stance, our breathing, our structure and our words.  And that is OK.  When we do more of this and become more familiar with it then it turns into

Unconsciously competent – we are in the flow.  It works and we don’t need to consciously think about it.  It happens because we are used to the mechanics and techniques.  And this means we can focus on different things – our connection with the audience, our persuasive language, our overall message. And this takes the presentation and our public speaking skills to another level.

One of the reasons people attend my monthly Speaking Club is the opportunity to present at least once a month and get some feedback.  They get a chance to be consciously incompetent in a safe environment and build up their confidence and conscious competence.    And it is a real joy to see people follow this journey on my multi day workshops as well.

Of course we have to start somewhere.  As Lao–Tsu  said,   “A journey of a thousand miles must start with a single step “  So what will your first step be?  My delegate, by the way, delivered an elegantly structured, thoughtfully delivered, effective presentation on day two.  How cool.

If you would like to chat about how you can develop your presentation skills, then email Catherine or call her on 07946604859.

This blog was originally part of a competition run by White Hart Training.  Entrants to the competition had to guess the originator of six quotes.  Each of the six quotes exemplifies six key factors about speaking in public.  Please browse the blog for the remaining five quotes or search using the category,

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