One by one the politicians got up to the rostrum and presented themselves, their policies, their exhortations. And one by one their Presentation Skills were woefully inadequate.
This is not an indictment of those policies or exhortations; rather, what I experience year after year when I watch these Conferences is ‘so what?’ Not one person truly touched me, got me involved in what they were saying , and worst of all no one held my interest
And yet I keep watching in the hope that just one person will present themselves in any other guise than PRESENTATION MAN/WOMAN.
So what do I mean by PRESENTATION MAN/WOMAN?
This is a phenomenon we see at some point during every single Presentation Skills course we run: a perfectly natural, interesting and engaging person stands up to present and in front of our very eyes turns into a stiff, inauthentic and ‘cardboard cut-out’ of a human being. We describe this as turning into PRESENTATION MAN/WOMAN.
Somewhere inside these people is a belief and picture of what a presenter is supposed to look like and behave and they contort their natural selves into something unrecognizable that distances themselves from their audience.
It’s fairly common knowledge that the most widespread phobia for people is having to stand in front of an audience and present. It’s incredibly exposing, people feel vulnerable; they become inarticulate, panic stricken at worst and awkward at best
And that’s a good part of the reason they become an ersatz version of who they think they ought to be.
Our job in the Presentation Skills training room is to facilitate delegates being able to present more of who they really are and to manage those crippling nerves. We do this first by de-mystifying the whole presenting arena and overturning some of the beliefs that have grown up about what presentations are supposed to look like.
We develop each person’s unique presentation style and ‘voice’ so when they stand up in front of an audience they aren’t a cookie cutter presenter but an attractive individual who is able to use his or her passion, strengths and even idiosyncrasies to deliver a clear and authentic message.
Maybe next year just one politician will shuck off the mantle of PRESENTATION MAN/WOMAN and engage my interest and trust. Somehow, I don’t think so.
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By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factor