Wednesday, 23 March 2016


Be yourself

Probably you have come across this advice more often than not. Certainly I’ve come across this advice about making presentations in quite a few places over the years. It seems to be quite good but somewhat limited and occasionally wrong.

When this is said, it is generally meant to be good – usually spoken by a friend just before a terrified speaker goes up on stage in a last minute attempt to reassure them that all will be well – but the truth is that being a good speaker requires more than being yourself. If one need to be yourself to be a good speaker, then everyone of us would have been a good speaker. In other words - You need to “be yourself” and you need to “perform” at the same time – in other words you need to be yourself and have good presentation skills. Difficult? Of course it is or we all would be doing it.

Think of the techniques to help you to perform the day to day activities like walking. Once we know how to walk, we don’t need to think about performing the task of walking from point A to B. it is same for anything of life, be it cycling, driving a car etc.

What is certainly true is that all the great performers are themselves when they’re presenting their stuff: with a master, you never get the feeling that you’re on the receiving end of ‘material’. It always seems to be ‘just them talking’. Therein lies their expertise, of course.

Inorder to do this a few pointers are given, this may help to get through the presentation or be yourself while presenting

Belong to the subject:            Present the subject to which you can relate to, the subject you are familiar. If you know the subject inside out, back to front and sideways you will be more confident. A presenter can’t deliver someone else’s material or material they’re not comfortable with. If you try you’ll unfortunately come across as confused, insincere (or both). You won’t have time to think once you’re in mid-performance (well, expert presenter do, but if you were, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article anyway ) so make sure that you’ve thought about all the different directions you could go from any point in your presentation.

Forgive Yourself:       If you commit any mistake, don’t take it personally, forgive yourself, they are bound to happen. Move on. Your audience don’t have the preview to the presentation, so they wouldn’t notice. They will only start realising if you start getting bogged down with the mistake. A bad presentation is not a disaster. It’s not likely that there were many deaths involved and precious few people will have lost their homes just because of one bad presentation. Think of it as a kind of arrogance to be so upset by mistakes: you’re not that important to the people you’re talking to, 99.9% of the time.

Learn the right techniques:              Its good being comfortable on stage, being yourself, having good material, but doesn’t count if you don’t have the techniques to deliver. For example you want to compete in a marathon, you can wear beautiful, comfortable clothes, know the route, but probably wont be in the finish line forget the medal stand if you don’t know the techniques of running the marathon. Similarly there are quite an few techniques of Public speaking – How you use your body, how you convey the message, your voice, your eye contact. Techniques should be so integrated to you and your style that they stop becoming techniques at all, and just become a part of you. You should never let the people you’re talking to see the techniques, either.  As they say “If it looks like you’re working hard, you’re not working hard enough.” In order to do this there are quite a few clubs, like “Toastmasters” that teach you the correct techniques in a very supportive atmosphere.

Don’t Fake:                Stay with who you are. The last thing the audience wants to see is an impression of some else. If they’d wanted to see someone super-confident, ultra-swarve and free from fault, they’d have gone to see someone super-confident, ultra-swarve and free from fault. They’ve come to see and hear you for a reason. Everybody in the world has some thing special in them. It is for us to find them and harness them.

Remember that the above is not the whole story. Improving the presentation skill is a journey, the more you travel on the path, the better you will.

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