The polished speaker you heard at the last industry conference you attended very likely went through presentation training. But do you remember how embarrassed you were for another speaker at that same conference who flubbed his remarks?
The second speaker also had coaching, so what went wrong?
Don’t Belittle Your Speakers
Going through presentation training with a coach, virtually or in-person, is an intense experience. Speakers, no matter what their position, are often vulnerable in a learning situation.
If the executive is new to public speaking, external coaches can be very helpful in teaching the techniques that will help him deliver a winning presentation while overcoming his fears of public speaking.
The coach’s role is to build the speaker’s confidence even while critiquing his first, tentative practice sessions. As his skills improve, so will his confidence. The coach should encourage the speaker and help him to leverage his strengths and not focus on his weaknesses. A good coach will also be helpful in organizing the presentation so the audience can follow the flow from beginning to end.
A speaker is only ready to step on the stage when he has mastered his content, his delivery and his nerves.
But the coach eventually leaves. It may be unintentional, but the internal staff at the company could torpedo all the good work of the coach. How? Their intention is to be helpful when the speaker asks them to serve as the audience as he rehearses his presentation one more time. But it’s just too tempting to start criticizing him and “play” the coach.
They often give erroneous advice and search for imperfections. But the last thing they should be doing is belittling the speaker. He doesn’t need to hear himself being criticized. He’s most likely already putting himself down.
No One is Perfect
If you’re going to present, it’s important to remember that no one will notice if you’re a few pounds overweight or your eye turns in a little. They are not focusing on your perceived flaws. The audience has come to hear you based on your experience and your achievements.
What they’re thinking is, “Do I believe what I’m hearing? What can I learn from this speaker that will help me be better at what I do? Do I like this person? Do I trust him?”
Don’t ask everyone you know to critique you. You don’t need to tell everyone that you’re so nervous you think you’re going to have a panic attack. The world doesn’t need to know how anxious you are. Speakers need to “get out of their own heads” and think more about the audience.
You don’t want your colleagues at work to think less of you because of your nerves. You know how rumors start, “Jackie is so nervous she’s never going to pull this off!”
Videotape yourself and share it with a trusted colleague or a friend. That’s all the added advice you need. They’re on your side and really know you. They won’t be looking for every flaw.
We always tell our clients to be themselves. You don’t need to become someone else when you’re delivering your presentation. If you fake it, the audience will sense the talk is not ringing true.
While watching the video, critique yourself in the third person and ask yourself “Do I believe this person? Does she seem like she knows what she’s talking about? Is she passionate about her topic or message? Is her voice strong and are her gestures productive? How does she look?” You’ll find that you’re your own best judge.
If you believe in yourself, your answer should be, “She’s looking and sounding darn good!”