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No doubt if you're leading others you'll be making some sort of presentation this week; whether it be with your team members, your colleagues, the board or your customers.
So, if I guess right, I recommend you do three things.
This is the final part of a series of blogs which focus on developing your presentation skills.
1. Asking questions prior to, during and post your presentation is essential to determine or at least understand if what you set to do has been achieved and that you meet the end users needs.
2. Ask someone prior to the presentation to provide feedback with you post your presentation. Asking a colleague or team member engenders trust and respect.
3. Follow up your 'audience' and thank them for attending/participating. Given some presentation go on and on (way too long for anyone's concentration) you showing common courtesy by respecting their time.
Make sure your presentations are successful this week. You'll know how successful if you ask for feedback!
Leaders must present with a prepared brain
We all know that we will be called to present to our team, someone else's team, a client or even speak at someone's funeral/wedding/birthday. It's a fact.
No matter what the situation is, a leader must be prepared - when skilled at presenting the right chemicals come into play and the audience benefits.
The third in a series of Blogs about Presentation skills the focus today is controlling nerves and stress with the help of your brain.
Whilst I'm not skilled in neuroscience I've experienced the feelings and emotions associated with a well prepared presentation and an ill-prepared presentation. We all know what it feels like to have those butterflies punching our belly and the experience when they fly in formation. And, who's had that sinking feeling when you've prepared a PPT to drive your presentation and find that the projector isn't working!
I'm a big fan of John Medina, his book, Brain Rules tells us many simple practises which help us survive and thrive. I've since adapted these into presenting skills training. For example from the simple 'for the brain to function it needs to exercise - you and your audience must move every 10 minutes! And to the more challenging approach to filter information to the short term memory receptivity and for the long term memory a gradual drip feed approach.
He also introduced the understanding of the power of chemicals which I've since explored further.
The body releases a range of chemicals: many of which I believe you can control!
Endorphins mask pain and it's that 'feeling high' when everything is working well in your presentation - especially if you haven't slept a wink getting it right. Similarly, Dopamine makes us feel good when you see your audience engaged with what you're saying and they proactively give you a visual High Five!
Serotonin often cited as the leadership chemical is produced in that team meeting when you've got everyone on board by making them feel valued and important - there's no ego involved here. Oxytocin is spread when trust is built through your gestures - for example touching someone when thanking them for asking a question.
Cortisol kicks in if we feel stressed - unable to handle a difficult audience member, don't know the answer to a person's question and generally when we're ill-prepared and don't know how to handle these people.
There are many ways to control our fears and nerves which activate these chemicals: be prepared (I've told you that!), breath, visualise, pause, drink water, move and stop thinking about yourself and think of serving the audience.
Are you presenting today?
This is the second in a series of Blogs about the need for our Leaders to be capable of confidently presenting to audiences - of all sizes.
In addition to the basics of observing experienced presenters, exercising your voice and knowing your intent and, I've identified three techniques to assist your presentation skills development.
Use Questions to understand, adapt & engage - a good presentation, whether it be with one person, a team meeting or a town hall session, involves the use of questions - it's critical to get 'into' your audience's head, heart & gut. During your presentation, artfully pose questions to consider or specifically ask individuals for information.
Audiences are predictable - know who's in the room and consider how they will behave and what detail they require. Additionally, I categorize audiences into three groups: People concerned - they want to know how what you are saying will affect/benefit others, Performance concerned - they want high level information, love a new challenge and want to know how it will grow their reputation. And you have those concerned about process - how things work, the detail and how what you're talking about 'fits in' with what is current.
Visuals are useful for many audience members. Whilst we all cringe when we see the projector in use aka death by power-point, people do appreciate well configured visuals which highlight the point you are making. This all relates to peoples' learning channels. More on that in another blog.
When you're attending a 'presentation' today, audit their use of questions & visuals and their ability to gauge your concern and interest in what you are saying.
I'm creating a presentation skills program for a client and in my research I discovered that the new fear in response to "what am I afraid of' is 'Failure'. One word sums it up.
I've been involved with Presentations for 30 years (Oh Lord, am I that experienced!) and I continue to experience the fear of failure and I still practise my presentations and continue to learn how to keep the F Bomb at a distance.
The F Bomb is part of our everyday life: wake up, have a coffee, miss your train (failure), arrive at work, forgotten your security tag (failure), call your boss and ask to arrange access which turns into a great discussion about your project concept (excitement), go out to lunch with a friend (pleasure), two hours of uninterrupted work (success), forget partner's birthday gift (big failure)! Yet, when it comes to making presentations, the bomb is almost debilitating.
Making a presentation can be made complex and on the other hand, can be rather simple if you apply the regular tips and practise the techniques which you've learnt, seen others competently apply and are written about. However, failure has such a big ego: it takes over your mental state, notes aren't readable, colleagues let alone the audience you want to interact appear as the enemy - in actual fact, you are your worst enemy!
For me, I've learnt most when I've failed. Don't get me wrong, warm gushing positive feedback is amazing to receive and boosts your confidence; it's the gut wrenching feeling when your technology doesn't work, pronouncing names incorrectly, faced with questions which you can't answer, observing people on their devices and yes, I've had someone fall asleep. All these examples aren't that bad, they aren't life threatening - it's the anxiety and stress we experience that kills our confidence.
The F Bomb can and should be detonated - be in control and don't wait for it to explode.