Become a Better Presenter {Your DIY Monthly Guide} header

I’m often asked, “Gary, how can I improve my speaking skills on my own, without a book or class?”

For those DIYers, I created the following simple Guide.  Over the next several months, I’ll take you through a few proven  strategies.  By following this self-development plan, you can easily move toward developing and honing great audience-engagement skills.

 

Become a Better Presenter {Your DIY Monthly Guide} Month 1

Month 1 Challenge

Following a speaking engagement or presentation we can easily convince ourselves that we were either a horrible “train wreck” or worthy of “rock star” status…and neither may be the case. It’s clear that one of our greatest “blind spots” is knowing how we are seen by others. A critical step in developing great presentation skills is to be able to look at ourselves and our performances through the eyes of our audience.

Step 1: Video

To begin this journey your challenge is to video record yourself presenting information. The audience could be your cat or dog, your toddler, or a photo of your favorite television or movie star. Use your smart phone to video record if you don’t have a camera. All you need is about five minutes of footage…enough for you to be able to play it and watch it.

Video Yourself Now

 

STEP 2: Observation – Glows & Grows

Your first task during playback and observation is to identify three (3) “glows” or things that you, as an audience member, enjoyed about this performance. These are things that you will want to continue to do when you are speaking or presenting formally, as well as in your every-day conversation with friends, co-workers, etc. This will help to make these skills habits that are readily repeatable moving forward.

TIP: Look for things like “looks comfortable”, “speaks clearly”, “has a good presence”, “connects well with the audience”. Avoid thinking about the person you are watching as yourself…view the subject as someone other than you. You always want to celebrate the things you’re doing well.

Next, identify three (3) “grows” or things that you believe could be even more effective about this performance. You should identify things like, “uses verbal fillers frequently” (um, uh, you know, so, etc.), “looks uncomfortable”, “uses hands/arms a lot”. Think about things that could be distracting to you as an audience member. Avoid identifying more than three. If you’re like most people, you will identify two to three times as many “grows” as “glows”…it’s human nature.

Step 3: Action Plan

Week 1: Glows
Focus on using the (3) glows you identified earlier in your formal and everyday communication.

Week 2: Grow #1
Focus on addressing the first “grow” item you identified. Avoid the urge to add more than one. Just master one at a time.

Week 3: Grow #2
Focus on addressing the second “grow” item you identified. Again, avoid the urge to add more than one.

Week 4: Grow #3
Focus on addressing the third “grow” item you identified.

 

Worksheet

To make it easier for you, I created a worksheet in PDF form to keep track of your observations: Become a Better Presenter {DIY Guide} Month 1 Worksheet

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Please share your experience, questions, comments and more on our Facebook page or contact me.

 

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Become a Better Presenter Your DIY Guide Month2

Month 2 Challenge

Now that you’ve had a chance to video record yourself and identify 3 “glows” and 3 “grows” from Challenge 1, you’re ready for a deeper dive on 2 standard “best practices”.

It’s important to continue video recording yourself at any and all speaking “performances” and to continue watching those recordings. The more you see what others see the easier it will be for you to continue to grow and make objective changes without feeling uncomfortable and “oogie” (this is a non-technical term that describes the feeling of social awkwardness) when you watch yourself.

Go ahead and record yourself speaking again, being mindful of your “glows” and “grows”.  Then meet me back here for your next challenge.

Video Yourself Now________________________

Ok, now that you have a new video, you are ready to review it for “best practices”.  Or in other words, learning the most common challenges people have when presenting.

 

Step 1: Minimize Verbal Fillers

The first thing you should examine is your use of verbal fillers. Verbal fillers include “um”, “uh”, “you know”, “kind of”, and “sort of”. Since human beings are wired for discovering and focusing on patterns, too many verbal fillers may result in your audience counting your verbal fillers and not listening to your message. You should also look for the excessive use of terms such as “actually” and even “so” at the beginnings of phrases. Audiences are distracted enough with smart phones…why give them an easy excuse to disconnect?

Action:  While watching your video…..

  Write down each verbal filler you used and make a tally mark for each time you used it.
  Which verbal filler(s) did you use most?

 

Step 2:  Look (and BE) Engaged

Next, you want to be sure that you “look” engaged, confident and eager to share your information with your audience. The easiest way to “look” engaged is to simply “be” engaged.

Action: While watching your video….

  Do you smile?
  Do you look confident?  Or are you dancing, wringing your hands, sweating, are your eyes darting around, or is your
voice shaking?
  Do you see yourself as a valuable resource to your audience?
  Do you believe in you?

 

Step 3: Action Plan

I encourage you to use what you learned from these 2 best practices, and apply them to your work and personal communications during the next month.

 

Worksheet

To make it easier for you, I created a worksheet in PDF form to keep track of your observations: Become a Better Presenter {DIY Guide} Month 2 Worksheet

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Please share your experience, questions, comments and more on our Facebook page or contact me.

 

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Become a Better Presenter {Your DIY Monthly Guide} Month 3Month 3 Challenge

Now that you’ve had a chance to video record yourself and identify 3 “glows” and 3 “grows” from Challenge 1, and work on implementing the 3 “best practices” from Challenge 2, you’re ready to take your presentations up another notch.

This month’s challenge is all about adding emotion/feeling to your presentation…striving to be an engaging “storyteller”.

 

Step 1: Find your last recorded presentation. While watching your video, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Did the tone of your voice change with the material you were presenting?
2. Did your facial expressions change as pitch and rhythm of your voice changed?
3. Did you add emphasis to the most important elements so that those important aspects stood out to the listener?

 

Step 2: Break out a children’s book

Now, let’s try something different. I want you to read a children’s book. Still with me? Yes, a children’s book. You may have one close by or you can find one online. For those of us that are not raising little humans, I like to use Dr. Seuss books for this exercise, which you can download for free from this site.

Read your children’s book as if you are reading it to a child. Let your voice and facial expressions bring the words to life and capture the attention of your audience. This is known as “storytelling” and it’s critical that messages to your audience have similar attributes…if you want the audience to stay engaged.

 

Step 3:  Action Plan

I encourage you to think about how you can add that same enthusiasm, emphasis, and animation to your presentations. Video yourself again, this time with animation. Watch the video and note if this time around you feel that your delivery matched the message you were working to convey. Were you engaging your audience as if you were an engaging storyteller?  Keep practicing this month.

 

Worksheet

To make it easier for you, I created a worksheet in PDF form to keep track of your observations: Become a Better Presenter {DIY Guide} Month 3 Worksheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share your experience, questions, comments and more on our Facebook page or contact me.

 

If you are interested in receiving specific feedback and identifying more areas of improvement, please schedule a free video call assessment.

Cheers,

Gary

Free Communication Assessment with Gary Plaag of Couragio Consulting to Improve your Presentation and Overall Communication Skills