The best presenters do more than just ‘survive’

A cat surviving in waterBecoming a better presenter is all about having the right mindset.

 Whenever I begin working with a new client, coaching them to develop their speaking skills, I ask one question:

“What do you want to sound/look/be like when you present?”

The answer that is given usually begins with:

“Well, I don’t want to be…”

and concludes with words such as:

“Nervous, shaking or forgetting my words.”

It’s tough to become a better speaker when the focus is on avoiding calamity and catastrophe and simply surviving when we have to speak.

With survival as our main goal we have to work hard every time to avoid the public speaking tigers (for tigers read ‘fears’, it’s just that tigers makes a much more interesting analogy) and deliver an average performance.

It’s for this reason that I always ask the question again:

“What do you want to sound/look/be like when you present?”

The client then begins to understand what I am getting at and envisions where they would like to be in the future.

Possible answers include:

“A confident, articulate speaker that can quickly build rapport with an audience and inspire them.”

Now we’re talking! (Metaphorically, not literally, yet!).

Looking forward and creating a vision of the speaker that we wish to become gives us a goal to aim for. It also removes the focus from survival and the negatives (those thoughts of shaking, stuttering and forgetting our words) and instead directs them towards an end goal.

Instead of simply surviving our speech, we are now focusing our efforts on excelling at it as a confident and articulate speaker!

As with all things in life, having a positive and clear goal gives us something to work towards and increases the likelihood of achieving it.

If you are regularly think about just surviving the speaking shakes or stutters, take a few minutes to reframe your goals as a target, not a survival strategy.

You’ll be amazed at it changes your approach and the results from your next presentation!

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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