This is the #1 thing people recommend for improving presentation skills: just practice!
I’m sorry. I’m here to tell you “just practicing” will get you nowhere.
In fact, it might actually work against you.
You see, there is a risk associated with random practice: you might be practicing in all your bad presentation habits if you’re doing it without being fully aware and without building in the right feedback loops.
So of course the actionable tip this week to speaking as a leader is to:
Build a feedback loop system so each presentation opportunity becomes strategic practice
Here’s what to do when you have your next presentation coming up:
- Start rehearsing early. Rehearse when you have about 50-60% of your presentation done. This way you can build and test simultaneously.
- Try to mimic the real world situation when you rehearse – for example, if you’ll be standing and presenting offline, do that when you rehearse. Don’t rehearse sitting at your desk unless you’re rehearsing for an online event.
- Record yourself each time using either Zoom full screen recording or your phone. Don’t screen share – the idea is for you to be able to see yourself clearly.
- Watch yourself back. This is the painful part if you’re not used to it. You’ll notice every single imperfection. This is why you need to…
- Have a rating system – rate yourself ONLY on specific factors each time. I recommend: energy, body language, clarity.
- For each consecutive practice, develop the habit of focusing on ONE of those factors each time – try not to overwhelm yourself by trying to improve on everything all at once.
- Try to record the live presentation when you actually deliver it, if possible. Watch it back later and compare against your performance during rehearsals. This will help you understand how you function better in the real environment as you’ll have an easy comparison metric.
I hope this 7-step feedback loop framework helps. It might sound like a lot, and you might be tempted to say, “Ahh I’m good enough, I don’t need to do this”.
But your “good enough” presentation skills might be costing you your next promotion. Or your next deal.
People remember how you speak when you’re in the spotlight. It’s an amazing opportunity to make a deep impact – so why would you want to settle for average?
And speaking of presentation stories, in this week’s Speak as a Leader podcast, Georgia Watson, Sales Enablement Leader at IBM shares some embarrassing and eye-opening presentation stories. She’s an incredible international leader who has worked and presented in many multicultural environments from Australia to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Catch the episode if you want to understand how a world class leader at IBM thinks, adapts and speaks.
Lastly, check out this post if you need help with creating an engaging presentation.
Till we meet again, speak fearlessly!