Have you ever screwed up a presentation? No one likes to be wrong, let’s face it. So even when we mess up, our brain looks for reasons it wasn’t our fault so we don’t have to admit to it. We look for something or somebody out there to blame. Some common culprits are: not enough time, the weather, disobedient technology, emergencies, insufficient knowledge or other people. The people could be family, friends and co-workers. Of course, the boss gave an incomplete brief at the last minute. But it wasn’t my fault.
Then there are the folk who take the easy way out and conclude that they’re just not good at presenting. Trouble is, that’s usually your fault too, because if you can articulate, the chances are very good that you can learn to present too – if you’ve taken the trouble to understand the “how”. The question is, how badly do you want to learn? Well most of us don’t want to learn badly enough because it’s too risky – we’ve already labeled ourselves. It’s far easier to say “this is one thing I’m just not good at.” Less risk, more safety, and continuing mediocrity at something you could really be doing very well.
There is nothing more important to anyone facing an upcoming presentation than their attitude and approach towards it. If it goes wrong, one can almost always attribute the failure to one or more significant flaws in preparation. But it is mental preparation that is most important because the brain takes instructions from the willpower we bring to the task.
To deliver a great presentation the following needs to happen:
- It should be important enough to you, in other words high on your priority list
- You should allow enough time to think out what will be needed
- Preparation should be adequate and all bases covered including topic research
- Your presentation must be correctly targeted to the expected audience
- Rehearsal must be done more than once. This too should be well thought out with feedback mechanisms in place.
- Logistics should be planned, from attire, equipment and props to arrangements on the day.
It may come as a surprise that those presenters who follow this check list usually have their nerves under control. They manage to keep their presentation under control. They also seem to achieve their desired outcome more often than not.
If things go wrong during the presentation, these presenters are able to learn from the experience as they know they did the best they could under the circumstances. They know that the lessons learned from this presentation will stand them in good stead for next time.
Those that do not follow such a check list have a different response. They beat themselves up, make excuses and revert back to safe mode which is: I’m not good at presenting.
My message is a simple one. You’re as good at presenting as you want to be. How good you want to be is a function of how important it is to you to do it well. To present well, you need to take the time to develop your skills. It’s not difficult to achieve, but it does take resolve, and a clear understanding that this skill is well within your grasp.