Bad Presentations – What’s the Biggest Problem?

Bad presentations: I've been reminded recently of a observation by Scott Berkun, a writer and speaker who's spoken at conferences all over the world. Scott's also written a great book 'Confessions of a Public Speaker'. One of the ideas in his book is something I totally agree with. Burkun says:  "The problem with most bad presentations I see is not the speaking, the slides, the visuals, or any of the things people obsess about.  Instead, it's the lack of thinking." You'd probably agree that this is true. No amount of being polished and eloquent with beautiful slides will save you if...

Three Thinking Traps That Increase Public Speaking Fear

I've heard from hundreds of clients about their fearful thoughts on public speaking - and listened to my own in the days when I used to get very nervous. And I've noticed that there are some styles which just keep popping up! Here are three thinking traps that increase public speaking fear: Thinking Traps That Increase Public Speaking Fear  "I must know more than everyone else in the room"  This thought is a recipe for enormous stress and sleepless nights. It's also something you can't control (see my post the drive for certainty or factors which reduce speaking fear for my thoughts on...

Public Speaking Anxiety – A Drive for Certainty?

Public Speaking Anxiety - A Drive for Certainty? Creating certainty in public speaking Anxiety: it's not only a signal that something needs attention - it can also be a drive to eliminate uncertainty and a sense of loss of control in our lives. And in working with many clients on their public speaking anxiety, I'm frequently seeing that many of them have a strong drive for certainty and control around their speaking. This is a tricky one - because public speaking is an inherently uncertain activity. However, if you recognise yourself as someone who's uncomfortable (or driven mad) by your need for certainty, there...

9 Mistakes Presenters Make

9 Mistakes Presenters Make Mistakes Presenters Make Do you want to be a more dynamic presenter? You will be if you avoid these frequent mistakes. I've discussed all of these ideas in previous articles, but thought it was worth clustering them together for a 'common mistakes' overview.  1. Forgetting the WIIFM filter  One of the most common mistakes that presenters make is forgetting to run their whole presentation through their audience’s No.1 filter – and that is always WIIFM (what’s in it for me?)  From the moment you open your mouth, to the summing-up, you’re being judged through this filter, and in...

What Navy Seals Can Teach Us About Reducing Public Speaking Fear

[Updated 2020.] As you'll know if you've been around my work for a while, I used to suffer real anxiety around presenting to people (and music performance anxiety before that - it was a long road!). And when I work with clients on reducing public speaking fear, I use lots of different tools and techniques, depending on what people present with. About 10 years ago there was an interesting article in Psychology Today about four techniques the U.S. Navy Seals used to increase their training pass rates with new recruits. The original article is here. And because all four tools are ones...

What to do When your Negative Voice Gatecrashes your Presentation

Negative inner voice during presentation - typical audience listening face Have you ever had the experience while presenting of looking out at the audience and seeing only a sea of blank faces? You look at them and immediately get discouraged; the negative self-talk kicks in: "John looks bored, this must be really bad" or "that woman's just looked at her watch again...I'd better speed up!" (which is usually a bad move, as we tend to accelerate when nervous anyway). I Hearing my negative inner critic voice during my presentation used to be an issue for me, especially when I was a...

Should you Move About When you Present, or Not?

Should you move around when presenting? As presenters, people tend to fall into two opposing ‘choreography’ camps when they’re in front of a group - you may recognise yourself here: You stand stock-still (often hiding behind – even hanging onto – the lectern), barely twitching except to advance a slide Advantage: you feel better because you’re in a safe space (or safer – of course it’s all relative!) Disadvantage: it’s a boring, un-engaging look for your audience, and using so little physical energy  is unhelpful for you too - if you're nervous, that adrenalin and cortisol will 'bank up' in your system and perpetuate any...

Why and Where to use Silence during your presentations

Presentation Delivery is like Waves on the Sea This topic is deceptively simple, but it’s such a crucial aid to your speaking success that it's worth revisiting. After all, we’ve heard the basics before - but we don't always remember to do them, right? Pauses Few presentations have enough of them – how do yours rate? Imagine that your presentation is like the ocean, each main point a wave rolling towards your audience who are standing on the shore. When you pause, it's like giving your audience "signposts in the sea" of waves about what's important in your presentation. Without these signposts, your waves of...

My CRISPER Formula for Good Public Speaking

CRISPER Formula for Good Public Speakers People often ask me "what makes a good public speaker?" And on my journey from dreadful to competent presenter, I've done a lot of thinking about this - as well as working with all my clients. A couple of years ago I had fun (yes, I'm quirky like that!) creating an acronym for good presenters which I still like: the CRISPER formula. I would be fairly certain that even if you think you’re not a good speaker, when you read the list below you’ll find that you already exhibit one or more of these 7 skills when you...

Fear, and How to Build Belief around your Public Speaking

Building Belief I was talking with a client this week about her fears around failure and embarrassment when she gives a presentation at work, and how she felt they weren't normal.  I commented that they were indeed normal, and that we all have these fears as human beings.  It got me thinking about the different fears and needs we have, and how the ones below are so often triggered by public speaking. Fear of: failure rejection embarrassment discomfort uncertainty not being good enough And the needs we have: to be heard to be accepted to be loved When you look at these lists, it's no wonder that speaking in public is so...