For those of you that live in the UK and are old enough, if I say the name ‘Michael Fish’ I know you will think of just one thing – the time the well-known BBC Weatherman guaranteed that there wouldn’t be a hurricane less than 24 hours before the biggest hurricane in UK history. The sad part about this is that he had a long career of being pretty accurate, and yet we are drawn like a moth to a flame toward his one (admittedly massive) mistake. So what does this have to do with you becoming a better presenter? Stick around and I’ll tell you…
It’s human nature
So why do we think of the negatives more readily than the positives? For the eagle eyed amongst you, you may have already worked this out by reading the subtitle just there! It is indeed human nature to look for the worst, which is very sad when you think about it. As I’m sitting here writing this (looking at a glorious sunrise) I’m suddenly feeling compelled to get all philosophical about how the world would be a better place if we looked at the positives. Luckily for you I know my place, so for now I’ll just stick to how to help you to be a better presenter (but think about it anyway!).
So what’s the problem?
One of the biggest challenges that most presenters face is one of confidence, or lack of it. If our human nature compels us to review our failures, then building our confidence for the next presentation is going to be pretty tough. A recent psychology study has shown that it’s impossible to experience two opposing emotions at the same time. Similarly, it’s very difficult to focus on the positives if you’re camping out in what went wrong.
You are your own saviour
The good news is that as highly developed human beings, we have the ability to get past our human nature. By that I mean we can choose what we focus on, therefore directing our subconscious attention to where we want it, not just where it naturally wants to go. So, all you need to do is review your successes instead and you’re all set.
Errrm, what successes?
This is the next slight hiccup. Due to our natural focus on what went wrong, we often don’t even think about what went right. If you want to be a good presenter you must change this mind-set. Every time you present, within 24 hours think back through it and make a note of every single thing that went well, no matter how small. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to ignore the mistakes, as you can learn a lot from them, but just make sure you don’t set up your shop there. I guarantee you that in every presentation, no matter how disastrous, there will be things that you did that were great. It might be that you handled a tough question really well, or that you had great eye contact, or that you made a really good key point etc. etc. Think through it minute by minute and then WRITE DOWN anything you feel went even remotely well. If you do this every time, then you will soon have a lovely file labelled “stuff I’m good at when presenting” or some other similarly creative title. All you then need do is review this on a regular basis to help remind yourself (and crucially your subconscious) of what you’re already good at.
Is it really that simple?
In short, yes. Yes, it is. The tough part is getting past your natural impulse to focus on the negative. Once you can do that though, you will suddenly begin to realise that you’re a lot better than you think. If you then couple your new found confidence in what you’re good at with a systematic approach to working on what you’re not so good at (such as reading my lovely blogs and then taking action) you will soon be presenting in a way that your colleagues will envy.