How to Master Your Presentation Skills

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For better presentations, put first things first.

If you’re looking to improve your performance and grow your confidence as a presenter, Trainer and Coach John Scarrott believes your best presentations start when you put first things first. Here's what he has to say:

Have you ever watched a great athlete and marvelled at their talent, their ability to execute? It’s a natural thing to do. I do the same thing, especially when I see and hear a great presenter or speaker. Alongside enjoying their performance, I’m curious about how they got themselves to that place. What came before it? What were their ‘first things’?

What we see, hear, and feel as the viewer is very much the end results: ‘last things,’ outcomes if you like. This is common of all performance-based activities. The end result is always caused by what came before it, but this is hidden from view.

It’s easy for us to use words such as ‘talent,’ ‘skills,’ or ‘abilities’ to explain the outcome. But this misses the point. We ought to marvel at their dedication, the support they draw on, their method, their attention to detail, but we have no knowledge of these things. But these are important, because they’re the ‘first things,’ and the very things that lead to the end result.

What has this got to do with presentations? Well, I often hear people say that the people they admire as presenters are “so confident,” that they “just seem to have it,” or “they’re really good at standing up and speaking off-the-cuff.”

It’s almost as though these results are innate, unique to the speaker and somehow out of reach to the person looking on. I firmly believe that this isn’t the case. Some people may start off with a little natural talent, but this will soon be overtaken by someone with the same or even less talent and a strong will and desire to grow.

In this aspect, presentations and speaking are the same as professional sports. A good approach that can be repeated and improved upon, over and over, will work better than luck and talent every time. Interestingly, I find that people who want to improve their presenting and speaking generally want to improve two things: their performance and personal confidence.

Which is fine. But these are very much ‘last things.’ To get there requires preparation and practise. These are the ‘first things’ that lead to improvements in performance and personal confidence. Work consistently on these, and you may find there are no limits to where you can go as a presenter or speaker.

The good news is, it’s up to you. By deciding and acting, by working on the ‘first things,’ you’ll do the hidden work that will go unseen by all but you. And you’ll reap the rewards in the changes to your performance and personal confidence. You’ll achieve lasting change in your ‘last things.’

What do you think? Are you ready to work on your ‘first things’? If so, join my IDM Presentation Skills Workshop on Thursday 27 January 2022 and we’ll begin together.

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