I recently did a presentation that did not go as I had anticipated. As soon as I started to speak, I began to feel slightly nervous. I would describe my experience as suddenly slipping into a poor quality of thought. I think that the actor George Jessel (1898–1981) described my situation very well:
“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”
My presentation was about the structure of presentations so; I was effectively, standing up to tell people how to do presentations. As I started to speak, I had a thought: I would not be able to create any credibility, as a “key person of influence” with regard to presenting, if I delivered a poor presentation.
Having attended several presentations, run by Business Biscotti at their business-networking meeting in Brentwood, I had been confident that my presentation would go well. In the past, the presentations were delivered to a small group of people around a table. However, on this occasion, the event was very well attended and we had to move into a larger room to accommodate my audience.
I had made a conscious decision not to use any notes. In this way, I could demonstrate that having a clearly defined structure could enable a person to deliver a concise presentation without notes.
Needless to say, on several occasions I lost my way and had to collect my thoughts. Also, I experienced time distortion – I thought that time was going slower than it actually was so I left my prepared structure to reiterate what I had said. This caused me to take up more of my audience’s time for no reason – other than my insecure thinking of the moment.
Given that insecure thinking, I have no way of knowing how well I was able to communicate my message. I am just left with a feeling that I did not perform to the best of my abilities.
I have learnt from this experience and will always have notes, in the form of a “mind map”, to hand. In addition, I will do more rehearsing than I did on this occasion. I knew the subject well and will “bang on” about it to anyone who will listen – but an informal conversation is very different to a formal presentation.
I hope that I adhered to the advice of the American operatic soprano, musical theatre actress, and self-help guru, Dorothy Sarnoff (1914–2008).
“Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”
Please may I ask anyone who attended my presentation to leave some comments below?