presentation & presence
June 29 - 30, 2021
Once again, great job. Thank you for all of the energy and interest that you brought to the training. I had fun working with you all.
Your presentation videos are below. (To watch yours you will need the password that was included in the email that contained the link to this page.
I don't expect you to watch your entire video straight through. In fact, I would rather that you watch it more strategically while keeping in mind a few questions and suggestions that I will provide below.
Before we get to that, however, I would like to share a couple of thoughts about where you are now in your presentation journey, what I observed about you as a group, and how you might leverage these two things into next steps.
Swim against the tide
The Presentation and Presence training that you have just completed has been designed to put you into a new, more informed relationship with presenting. You now know the fundamentals of effective content organization, visual storytelling, and presence. And you also know, or have a better idea about, where your strengths and weaknesses lie in relation to each of these areas.
This is all important, and yet, unfortunately, it likely won't translate into significant improvement unless you really commit to working with the new tools that you have learned in a consistent, ongoing way.
The path of least resistance is tenacious and it is going to want you to forget this training and sink back into the comfort of presenting without technique. This isn't personal. Once again, the automatic brain has evolved to resist change. Once it has established a habit, or a patterned way of doing a certain activity, it doesn't like to give it up. This is especially true around high arousal activities like presenting that the nervous system has labeled "threat." To the brain, it is safer to keep things the same.
Change is of course possible, but it will take real determination to swim against so persistent and compelling a tide. In addition, your odds of success will be much greater if you commit to this work together as a team instead of on your own individually.
Don't believe your brain, believe your colleagues
You folks at e-Harmony are a wonderful group and the way that you took care of each other during the training made clear that you care a great deal about one another. Time and again, when one of you was presenting and got stuck for what to do, or was being unduly hard on yourself, the rest of you circled around, reminded the presenter of their strengths, and then collaborated with them to solve whatever obstacle was in the way. That was exactly the right attitude and right way to help.
Consider this. Notice how much easier it is to be in the position of the one helping than it is to be the one being helped. Yup, it's the brain again. To receive help or praise makes us vulnerable because it requires that we trust the perception of others over own experience. The brain doesn't like to surrender control like that and so it defends against the help or praise by clinging to its negative bias. We simply don't believe people when they tell us nice things about ourself because doing so could potentially open us up to harm. We prefer to think that our friends are fibbing, that really they know how bad or undeserving we are and that they are just being nice to make us feel better.
And, yet, notice that when you are the one providing help to someone how sincere you are and how you genuinely want the person to take in your words and to trust your view of them over their almost always more negative, self critical, and limiting view of their self. There is something in us that just naturally rebels at seeing the people we care about downplay their talents and capacities.
Flip the situation around now and imagine yourself as the person being helped or praised. Is it possible that, knowing what you now know, you might be able to let go of your own negative self view and trust your colleague's perception?
The funny thing is that when we accept help or praise we model for others how to do the same. No one needs help beating themselves up. We are all great at that. What we could all use though are examples of people letting go of fear, trusting their friends, and accepting that they really are as wonderful, talented and capable, as they say. Now that takes real courage.
Commit to yourself, commit to each other
The relationship that you have with one another can be among your greatest assets if you intentionally apply it to helping each other get better at presenting. I suggest that you get together and formally agree that you are going to keep the tools and techniques that you have learned alive by working more transparently and collaboratively with each other on your presentations. Commit to yourself and to each other that you are going to become truly great presenters.
Now, it might be that you often don't have time to help each other construct your presentations or to even do a run through in front of one another. If that is the case, what might be a workaround? Other organizations that I have worked with set aside time once a week specifically for presentations. Every Friday afternoon (most often) one or two people volunteer to deliver a short presentation on a topic of their choice. Everyone then uses the model to discuss how they did, suggest edits and specific ways to enhance presence.
In the words of the late, great basketball player Kobe Bryant, "The important thing is that your teammates have to know that you are pulling for them and you really want them to be successful."
The bottom line is that the more often you present with intention and the application of technique, the better you will become. In time, it will no longer be just about surviving the presentation and hoping for the best. It will become a craft that you have mastered and that makes you and your colleagues look and sound like no one else.
Get brave and get to work
So let's get brave and get to work.
Again, I don't expect you to watch the entire video straight through. But do the following.
- Watch Take One: Baseline Presentation and then a few minutes of Take Two: Personal Story. Notice the difference in your presence, how more of your personality and natural charisma came through when you told a story that 1) you could visualize, and 2) that flowed chronologically and centered around an event, and 3) that you were emotionally invested in.
- Identify, very specifically, the 2 or 3 physical and emotional behaviors that, if exhibited consistently, would make you a more engaging and effective presenter.
- Start paying closer attention to story structure. Listen to how your colleagues, friends and family talk about their day and the things that happen to them. Identify the structural aspects in a story someone tells that you find funny, touching, etc. How did they set it up? How did the person's use of body language enhance the telling?
- Watch/listen to our conversations and my feedback to you at the end of Takes 3 and 4, then go back and watch what what you did. Make sure that you understand my notes and that you are able to see the aspects of your content and presence that I addressed.
- Use "My Action Plan" (Workbook, p.51) to write down your skills and strengths as well as the areas where you need to improve. Don't wait until your next presentation to start work on leveraging your strengths and addressing your weaknesses. Practice throughout the day at work and at home. Notice the impact the changes you make have on you and on those around you. You might be surprised.
- Share your action plan with a manager or colleague and schedule regular check-ins to monitor your progress.
Each take that you did is marked in the video by a "chapter." So too are our conversations and my feedback. You can easily navigate between the different chapters by selecting one of the dots in the video timeline or by selecting a chapter from the menu. (See image below.) You need to watch the video on this webpage however. If you watch it on Vimeo or your phone you won't have access to the markers. (I don't know why. It's a Vimeo thing.)
Your videos will be available for 6 months and then I will take them down and this page will no longer be available.
Lastly, work your tails off but hold yourselves lightly and keep your sense of humor. Let your quest for excellence as presenters be an extension of your quest to live as fully, joyfully, and relationally as possible. Be the leaders we all need.
Thanks again for all of your hard work.
If you are willing, please recommend Presentation and Presence to your friends and colleagues.
In all the years that we have been doing this training, no marketing has ever lead to more new business than the word of mouth praise from fired up participants like yourselves.
I thank you in advance. JH