Cross-Functional Learning


Our well-rounded business content is designed for Leaders & Managers to implement change with ease & improve accountability amongst their teams. Here you'll find Articles from thought leaders in their fields, have access to practical Business Templates, learn new skills & expand on skills you already have. Stay informed & proactive...Join Us Today!

Join Now

How To Flourish As A Presenter: Forming a Presenters Colony

By Peter Paskale (1361 words)
Posted in Communication Skills on June 30, 2013

There are (3) comments permalink

Add to My Toolkit

By Peter Paskale, Writer, Coach & Trainer, The Presenters' Blog 

Around the USA, beautiful towns and villages celebrate in the title of "Artist's Colony". Long before tourists arrived, a diversity of artists congregated to work together and practice their art.


Cape Cod offers outstanding light, while areas like Sedona have inspiring landscapes, but geographic inspirations aren't the only advantage that artists are seeking out.  By clumping in colonies they receive emotional reinforcement, and that reinforcement is as vital to presenters as it is for painters.


As children, many of us are born performers, and yet by the time we reached adulthood, presenting in public has become scary.


We've absorbed a message that presenting is to be feared, and that fear didn't come from us. It came from others and is a mantra continually reinforced by those around us. Ask yourself right now what your colleagues say about making presentations. Do they speak with enthusiasm, or do they sound like they're marching to the scaffold?


"I have to make a presentation tomorrow." Note that word "have" and it's dread tone of compulsion, fear and loathing. Surrounded by such sounds it's hardly surprising we soon hum the same tune, and it's also why artists form colonies.


The choice to become an artist is a brave one. How many teenagers have that choice driven out of them by well meaning parents and advisers? Be an accountant / lawyer / doctor instead. It's so much safer. Being an artist is difficult and so many people fail. Do you want to look a fool?


As individuals, we have an innate ability for self-doubt. With a soundtrack like that droning in the background, it's no surprise artists fall by the wayside, and that's why artists clump together; for support. When those around you are positive, and positively support your goals, anything becomes possible. Doom-merchants deaden creativity, so artists seek out supportive environments where like-minded people encourage each other.


To flourish as a presenter, you need the same support, and here are four ways to achieve it, of which only one involves a modicum of pain.


1: Find Positive Playmates

Within your environment, find the folks who are not only good presenters, but who enjoy presenting. Be upfront about the fact that you admire their style. Next time they're doing a presentation, can you join them for their preparation process, or debrief the presentation with them afterwards? Maybe over time you could even share a part of the delivery with them. Simply by spending time with these people some of their enthusiasm will rub-off. Positive vibes are as infectious as negative ones.


2: Dump The Doom-Sayers

We want those positive vibes to build, so avoid getting re-irradiated by those who would rather walk across burning coals than stand-up to present. Build a shield around yourself. When you hear the "oh but it's so difficult" statements, remind yourself that that's their baggage and that they're welcome to it. Don't be tempted to pick up that sack of sorry rocks again, no matter how frequently it's offered.


3: Join A Public Speaking Group

A fabulous organization called Toastmasters runs local groups where presenters of all skill-levels and none get together for their mutual professional growth. These groups are super-supportive, and I use that superlative most sincerely.


Google "Toastmasters" and the name of your town, and you'll find a group nearby.


4: Listen To Your Self-Talk

OK, this is the one that's gonna hurt, a little.


We all have an inner voice. It’s that same voice in which we say to ourselves things like "I must remember to pay the gas bill." Internally we burble away to ourselves on a constant basis, and because that voice is literally in our heads, those inner messages seep easily into sub-conscious to become part of daily reality.


Listen for what that voice is telling to you about presenting. Does it say positive things, or is there a negative mantra moaning along whenever the chance to speak in public is mentioned?


If it's positive, excellent. If it's negative though, you need to stop that message pronto. At it's simplest, you can mentally reverse the negative message and make it into something powerfully affirming. For a more drastic measure, you can use a proven quit-smoking technique and pop an elastic band over your wrist.


Whenever you hear the negative soundtrack, pull that elastic band and give it a decisive snap back against your exposed flesh. Ouch it stings. But not for long, and your subconscious associates punishing self-talk with a punishing pain. Your brain learns quickly and the negative message stops, hence why the technique is known as "thought-zapping".



Spread The Love


There's no quicker way to come to believe something than to repeatedly hear it in your own publicly spoken voice. Whenever you are about to make a presentation, or have just made one, speak of that experience to others in the most positive terms. Let others know that you enjoy presenting. Not only will this encourage more opportunities to come your way, thereby giving you the chance to grown, but you'll also become seen as one of those positive playmates that we mentioned earlier. Before long, others will be seeking you out for guidance. Misery might love company, but it's only the positive who start parties.


Public speaking is an art, and public speakers are artists. Like painting, music, and writing, our skill has beautiful repertoires of techniques that are there to be experienced, practiced, and enjoyed. Like artists though, we can easily be discouraged if surrounded by unfounded negativity and fear.


Like artists therefore, we too can benefit from colonies: Presenter's Colonies that support our public speaking growth, and from where we support the growth of others.


{#/pub/images/PeterWatts.jpg}Written by Peter Paskale, writer, coach, and trainer guiding presenters to be at their best when on the stage. Following a 15 year career within the technology sector that included 11 years working for Dell, Peter became a consultant specializing in training and coaching business presenters. Today he works with teams around America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to help multinational organizations to bring their message to their customers through the spoken word.Peter is based in the UK. In addition to training under his own Speak2All brand and as an Associate Trainer, he also writes a weekly blog of ideas for presenters, and can be followed daily on Twitter.



Do you have a question for Peter?  Please visit our Workplace Communication Skills Community, he will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


Did you find this story informative?  We would like the opportunity to keep you up to date on all of our training articles.  Please register for our newsletter so we can do just that.  


Here are some related articles you may be interested in: 

Presentation Nerves & Solutions To Overcome Them

Does My But Sound Big In This?

7 Steps To Beating Pesentation Procrastination

Eleven Really Useful Techniques for Successful Presentations

A Model for Active Listening: Master a Skill That Can Boost Your Career

Overcome Complacency in the Workplace

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: How to Develop Yourself & Your Team


ManagingAmericans.com is a community of Business Professionals & Expert Consultants sharing knowledge, success tips and solutions to common job issues.  Our objective is to mentor and develop professionals to be better leaders, managers, team players and individual contributors. Ultimately, helping people succeed in their careers.

Comments (3)

Sharron Williams posted on: July 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing this information. I present information on Dementia care. It's good to learn new things.

Susan Jakers posted on: July 5, 2013

I agree, the proper mindset is your key to success. Before I speak, I visualize my success, participant's praise and feeling great about myself. I've created a positive mindset.
I feel having the support of others, who understand the challenges, can lead to increased creativity and support.

Peter Watts posted on: July 10, 2013

Hi Sharron and Susan

Thanks for your comments.

Sharron, that sounds like an incredibly important topic that you're presenting on. I'd be very interested to know what sort of an audience you work with. Is it health care professionals, or is it individuals who are directly affected themselves by dementia in some way?

And Susan, you and I are using exactly the same technique. Visualising that success and hearing that applause are superb ways to boost your strength pre-presentation. And then, when you get the actual applause afterwards, really listen to it, let it soak in. That then becomes your rocket fuel for next time! :-)

Leave a comment

Not a robot?