Coaching is as vital to a presenter as it is to a performer. If you’re not seeing what your audience is seeing, you’re operating in the dark. While you may get occasional “drive-by” coaching from a manager, a peer or at a workshop, without a consistent and clear way to gauge progress, many presenters fall back on old habits or end up reinforcing ineffective behaviors. If you’re invested in your career you need to learn how to be your own presentation coach.
Thanks to technology, coaching yourself is technically “easier than ever”, but there is still a huge barrier most people have when it comes to being objective about your performance. Or even watching your own performance!
As an actor I hated seeing myself on video.
Even if I had received accolades from audience members and directors, all I could see when I watched were my flaws: a distracting hand gesture, facial expression or movement; a slight trip on a word or misplaced emphasis. Instead of using this as a helpful guide to continue to improve, the camera became my worst enemy by magnifying my shortcomings.
Take a Director’s Approach
When an acting coach suggested I look at my performance from the perspective of a director –everything changed for me. Why? Because a director’s primary purpose is to help an actor move ever closer to achieving the objective of the script.
A Director does NOT:
- Take the feedback personally.
- Know that you’re having a bad hair day or you wish you had straighter teeth, thicker eyebrows, a deeper voice, etc.
- Shame you for personal traits, habits or mannerisms you’ve developed or been born with.
- Try to change everything at once, or
- Get overwhelmed and change nothing.
A director deals in “what can be changed” and points out things that may be detracting from your audience’s ability to receive your message. In order to be your own presentation coach, you need to put on your director’s hat.
Step-by-step: How to Be Your Own Presentation Coach:
- Record yourself delivering a typical presentation. Don’t try anything new . You want to get a baseline performance level.
- View your video objectively. Remove yourself from the performance and stick to the facts – not what you meant to do or say.
- Look at the Big Picture. Just some large scale notes – as if you were sitting in the back of the theater. Were you effective in achieving your goal? Was your energy level up? Did you seem confident and prepared?
- Create a list of things you did well. This is a very important and often overlooked step in coaching ourselves. You want to give a fair and balanced report. What are your strengths? Where did you really shine?
- Listen for messaging. Was it clear and compelling? Could it be more concise? What resonated? What didn’t and why?
- Focus on your Body language. Turn off the sound and watch it again. What is your body saying? Are you open and assured? How is your eye contact? Are there any repetitive gestures or movements? Is your face expressive?
- Focus on your Voice. Listen again just focusing on the sound, tone and quality of your voice. Where was it strong or weak? Did you emphasize key points? Did you rush or take your time? Were there any crutch words or vocal habits that might cause tune out? Get tips on improving your Vocal Authority here.
- Create a list of areas for improvement. Be specific and focus on things that you can improve. Just as you can’t make yourself taller, don’t critique yourself for things out of your control.
- Tackle one-two areas at a time. Don’t take them on all at once. Develop an action plan and really focus on changing behavior in a one area before moving on to the next.
- Record yourself again in a week and compare it against your baseline recording. Look for improvement in the areas you targeted. Continue to work your way down the list, checking in with yourself on a bi-monthly basis.
Coaching yourself is one step on the way to becoming a great presenter. If you’re ready to take the next step, contact me for information on Presentation Workshops and Coaching.