Imagine you’re standing in front of your Board of Directors presenting the next 3 years’ plan. Three minutes into the 20-minute presentation your mouth goes dry, tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth and your lips start to crack. You have nothing more to say. And eventually your boss asks you to sit down. That was me some 35 years ago. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t know how to say it. I was very inexperienced in presentations, to put it mildly!
What I didn’t realise, as I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, was that it was the start of a 35-year journey of learning first how to do it well and then teaching others. Fortunately, six months after that disaster I was offered presentation skills training and that changed everything for me.
I didn’t need to be told how difficult it can be for some people to present. But what I didn’t know was that with the right encouragement how easy it can be for anyone to learn to do it well.
For example, one of the keys to a good presentation is good preparation. But people don’t know how to prepare. They either over-prepare, trying to learn it by heart, like a school-days poem, or they try to work it out in their head resulting in confusion and doubt.
Enter a good course of presentation skills training. This will show you how to prepare, practice and then deliver a great presentation. But how to choose the course that’s right for you? My suggestion is to choose one which gets you on your feet presenting from the word go and then keeps you on your feet.
I see it like learning to swim. You won’t learn to swim by talking about it – you’ve got to get in the water and splash about, with helpful instruction and honest feedback. Do that as a presenter and in no time at all you’ll be looking forward to being on your feet anticipating some appreciative applause from your audience.