Another year is here. It's the time when people often set unachievable goals, like losing 2 stones in 2 months. But what about when it comes to your career? And setting something achievable that'll help further it?
Presenting and good communication skills are needed in most occupations. In fact, 70% of people say that presentation skills are critical for career success. Nearly all senior executives and leaders are good at it. And they need to be - leading teams, communicating new ideas or trying to persuade others all require good presentation skills.
There's no doubt it's important. So how about this as an achievable new year resolution?
"To become a better, more confident presenter than I was in 2020"
Sound like a plan? Read on for three (manageable) ways you can hit this goal.
I will practice more by recording myself presenting and watching it back
Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. But when it comes to public speaking and presenting, the thought of watching yourself back is enough to make many people squirm and turn on the Netflix instead. But if you're really serious about improving, it's time to get over the initial embarrassment. Remember: it's just you who'll see this.
To begin, read out a passage from a book and record yourself on your iphone. Watch it back and take down notes. What did you do well when it came to the delivery and vocals? What was your pace like? Did you use many fillers (errs and umms)?
Then, write your own 1 minute passage on a topic of choice (it can be anything, so get creative) and record this. Again, watch it back, but this time looking not only at your delivery but also the content itself. Was it well structured? Was the language clear? Was there clear signposting to help direct your audience?
Finally, record yourself a third time (either use the same passage or a new one) and this time pay attention to your body language, eye-contact and general confidence. Do you look self-assured? Do you use your hands effectively? How is your eye-contact?
The trick is to build up when recording yourself and focus on one of the three pillars (vocals/delivery, or content, or body language) at a time. You'll probably notice that you are stronger in one area and weaker in another. This will allow you to create more specific feedback, as well as being a less overwhelming exercise to begin.
I will look to others to help me improve, such as seeking out a role-model or presenting coach
Although recording yourself back will help, trying to improve on your own isn't always easy.
One way of improving is seeking out a role-model at your workplace who you think presents excellently. What do they do well? Take down notes and try to be as specific as possible. Can you ask for some time with them to get their advice, or even practice in front of them? This'll help boost your confidence and keep you accountable by expressing your desire to improve with someone who is already good at it.
Another way is to seek out a dedicated public speaking and presenting coach. A coach will be able to offer expertise and bespoke support tailored to you. They will also be able to quickly identify your development areas and give you key practical tips and exercises to improve.
Though be warned - have a read here of some of the things to look out for when seeking a public speaking coach and be sure to do your research beforehand.
I will put myself out of my comfort zone when I can
Presenting is a bit like swimming. You can hear a swimming instructor tell you what to do but until you get in the water and try, you won't be able to swim. Similarly, you can have all the coaching in the world, or read all about it online, but unless you "put yourself out there" it's hard to really improve.
This year, challenge yourself to seek out presenting opportunities to get out of your comfort zone. Remember, the aim here is to become a "better, more confident presenter than I was in 2020", not to become a world-renowned TedTalk public speaker.
If you are used to presenting to a group of 8 in team meetings, why not volunteer to run a townhall to a department of 50? If you have never really presented to a group before, why not talk to your manager and offer to lead an internal team call one day, even if it's just setting out the agenda and contents?
By putting yourself out your comfort zone - and seeking the opportunities to do so - not only will you get better, you will also find that the dreaded public speaking "fear" will wear off overtime. That's why top leaders are so seamless at it and unfazed - because by doing it many times before, they have been able to get over that initial hurdle.
HelpMePresent is the tutoring of presenting. We offer 1-1, flexible, accessible sessions that can be easily booked, including packages specifically for women and international speakers. Click to book now.