Dear Unconfident Presenter…

Twenty-five years ago my brother became a doctor. What was initially a “How the heck do I solve this” panic moment in his brain for common health problems has now become an easy remedy. Presentation coaching is a little bit like that. There are some common problems that people suffer from and 10 years ago I was hearing these problems for the first time and slightly panicking. I am not saying I have seen it all but I have seen a lot and the great news is — there is always a cure. One of these problems is the inner narrative, the “Am I too arrogant, am I liking the sound of my voice too much” question. People who have this are often kind, humble, want the work to speak for itself, analytical, don’t enjoy centre stage. And because of these great qualities they are also not good at telling their story! And in a world where He/She who tells the best story wins, these folk will always come in last. That just doesn’t seem fair. Through sweat, almost tears and years of throwing everything, but the kitchen sink at the wall to see what sticks, I have found some tried and tested ways of drawing out the story. These five principles are not quick fixes, they take time but are well worth it.

  1. Why. A “Why” gives you permission to have passion. I once had the privilege of being in a Q&A with Simon Sinek, the author of “Start with Why” and I asked him where his deeply purposeful coaching journey began. His answer — when he went through a really dark period in his life and was asking himself why he was even doing what he did. He had an epiphany, started telling his friends, his friends told their friends, he started talking in people’s living rooms, people loved it and the rest is history. What is your “Why”? You may not know but it is really important to start to explore it. — watch his TED talk and it will give you permission to tell your story. In fact, you won’t be able to stop telling your story because you are tapping into something bigger.
  2. Story of other When you tap into the “something bigger”, the story becomes about the other, the person you are serving, the customer you are trying to delight, the problem you are solving. The story moves from you to other. It is then SO much easier to tell. Allow your story to to be about how you relate to other.
  3. Wise Mentor. Every Hollywood movie has a wise mentor (Morgan Freeman in every movie he has ever been in and Sir Ian McKellan). They have been there before, they have a right to help the potential hero, but to help the hero they have to tell a story, they have to give wise advice. The best Wise mentors are not the ones who hope the work will speak for itself or produce over complex powerpoint, they are are the ones who distill their wisdom/product/company into something simple and easy to Understand. When the iPod launched it was “A thousand songs in your pocket” — complex made simple. That is why we tell story — to help our hero’s get what we think they need to succeed and make it to the other side. You are the Wise Mentor and your audience is the Hero. Challenge yourself to see yourself as a wise mentor and see how that changes the narrative. Here is a really useful 5 minute video on what the Hero’s Journey looks like.
  4. People love TED. Yes we can all parody it but there is a reason TED is so popular — people love to learn from people with authority who can carry a story really really well. So turn your “pitch” into a TED talk with all the facts you need to share, the market size, the competition, the problem, the ask, wrapped into a story. Use the story to define what you are doing, not defend. If you get defensive, your audience will get offensive.
  5. Learn to tell it really well. That’s where my online coaching comes in. It is all free, so use it!

Even if you love centre stage and love telling stories like I do, these techniques are really important. In fact, I would say that especially if you love Centre stage these techniques are important — they will keep you humble and stop you from over-selling something that isn’t there.