Are your beliefs about your presentation skills holding you back?

“A belief is simply a thought that we have ceased to question

Someone once told me that a belief is simply a thought that we had ceased to question and that started me on a voyage of discovery to explore my own beliefs to find out which ones were holding me back so that I might question and change them.  In this short article, I’d like to challenge you to question your beliefs about the public speaking and presentation skills. You see much of what we have been taught as the truth, is actually a myth.

Good speakers are born not made

Many people mistakenly believe that the ability to speak in public is a genetic trait. Something that you are born with. The truth is that the best speakers practice their delivery over and over again until it becomes second nature. They also seek constructive feedback from their peers so that they can build upon their existing skills and address any bad habits.

Public speaking is a skill that anybody can master with practice. I know because I have seen many people who could hardly string two words together when standing in front of an audience become competent speakers in a few months.

Only extroverts make good speakers

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is simply not true. If you don’t believe me, look at the example set by the late Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple. If you have ever seen him speak, you’ll know that he wasn’t the stereotypical, ‘larger than life, extrovert presenter. Despite this, he was still an excellent speaker. (If you haven’t seen him speak, you can find lots of examples of his presentations on YouTube.) Like him, you too can become a confident communicator. The key is to find your authentic style and “Be the best version of yourself you can be.”

It’s all about me – the presenter

Focussing on yourself as the presenter is another common misconception. In truth, it’s the audience who are the most important people in the room during your presentation. Your job as the presenter is to create a shift their attitude from where it is at the start of your speech, to where you need it to be, for them to do what you want them to do. An essential part of developing your presentation skills is to learn how to judge your audience so that you can pitch content appropriately. The best way to do this is to start by mirroring your audience’s attitudes and energy level and then gradually change your energy and approach as you take them on a journey to where you need them to be. There’s a whole chapter about this in my latest book The Presenter’s Edge.

The audience are out to get me

Many speakers fare fearful of making a fool of themselves in front of their audience, and so they avoid presenting like the plague. They think that their audience secretly wants them to fail and that nothing less than perfection is good enough!

Wrong – It’s another myth!

The truth is most people in the audience want you to do well, and they admire you for having the courage to stand up and give a presentation.  They also know that perfection isn’t connection. The odd little slip or mistake just serves to prove that you, like them, are human and they will forgive you for it. They are on your side.

“Perfection isn’t connection.” –  Richard Wilkins

Want to know more?

In this article, I’ve spelt out several presentation skills myths and show that they are just plain wrong, yet accepting these myths as fact is the reason so many people don’t even try to overcome their fear of public speaking. If this article has persuaded you to question your limiting beliefs around public speaking, then you will find my latest book, The Presenter’s Edge, a valuable addition to your bookshelf. It’s short, sharp and easy to read, that is jam-packed with practical presentation skills tips to help you become a better speaker. Click on the image to buy it on Amazon.




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