If you’re delivering a conference speech, a CEO communicating your vision to thousands of employees, a Research Scientist pitching to secure millions in funding, a team leader of thirty, a lecturer to hundreds or someone who has volunteered or been elected to deliver a presentation, then you might relish the prospect and feel ready to deliver an outstanding presentation.
However, if you feel daunted at the prospect or are keen to develop and improve your chances of success, then I believe I can help.
Presenting is the creation of an experience for an audience that provokes change in how they might think, feel or be prepared to behave afterwards. Aiming for less might feel safer, but no audience ever sat down hoping to see a mediocre performance and no presenter ever woke up energised at the prospect of delivering one. The success of organisations like TED and the wealth of online content now available have raised audiences’ expectations about how effective and engaging presentations should be, but this same success has suggested a formula for delivering them. No matter how good, even the best formula can only produce a standardised output.
Public speaking is often seen as a skill that a talented few have, but I argue that it is a series of behaviours that anyone can choose to develop and deploy. Presenting is the act of speaking in public with care, and the two stages that must be addressed are firstly to identify which particular behaviours help you individually and secondly to rehearse them effectively and as often as is needed to forge them into new habits. Whilst my presentation skills courses, such as In the Wings or Potential Energy, can raise your level of awareness in a group setting and offer exercises, processes and ideas that will help, there is no substitute for the kinaesthetic learning, video feedback and support from a one to one coaching session.
During an initial coaching session that will typically last three hours, you and I will first analyse a previously recorded performance to better understand your strengths and identify areas for development. Then we’ll explore your preferences and the needs of your audience in order to clarify how your presentation can be shaped to meet its objectives. Finally, I’ll offer you a sensitive but frank appraisal of your style, so that you can make informed decisions about how you want to deliver it. You’ll leave with a personalised programme to help your preparation, revision, rehearsal and study. If you choose, further sessions conducted either face to face or over Zoom will allow me to support your development.
All presenters find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place; the rock being the unavoidable truth that an audience requires us to at least match if not exceed their expectations, and the hard place being Abraham Maslow’s assertion that our need for personal safety must be satisfied before we can concentrate on fulfilment and creativity. The good news is that it can be resolved by anyone prepared to roll up their sleeves and work hard to exercise, refine and hone their message, voice, physicality and mindset.