Making presentations better (and easier)

Last Saturday, thirteen other punters and I attended a whole-day Presentation Skills Workshop. We each had to prepare a 2-3 min presentation on something work-related. Twelve of us were writers/illustrators, one a teacher and the other two also worked in related fields. I’ve done quite a few workshops but knew I could use some help to make them better.

The workshop covered things like warming up, protecting, projecting voice; what to do with your body (ie make body language work for you); connecting with your audience; constructing a ‘killer opening’; and how to manage nerves. Banishing nerves wasn’t on the agenda…that heightened sense of alertness is essential to an energy-filled performance, but there were statistics about how much the audience retains and breathing exercises to keep the beast under control.

We each performed a number of times in addition to the initial presentation. It was amazing to see the transformations in some of the attendees. It was also fascinating to watch 13 other presentation styles, 14 if you include the presenter. All different, all really interesting.

And the take home message? Well of course there were many. But the overwhelming one was about being yourself, trusting yourself, trusting your material.

There were some great warm up exercises too.