How Too Many Emerging Leaders Erode Their Reputation When Presenting

  • Author
    Magali Leroux
  • Published
    August 11, 2022
  • Word count

Pitching an idea in the boardroom, presenting your plan at a conference, seeking to impress the senior board during a townhall meeting, influencing the cross-functional team about a new project during a team meeting, there are plenty of opportunities for you to present and speak to a wide audience as part of your job.

Oh here we grow again….

Of all the skills you need to succeed as a leader, your ability to communicate with impact (therefore to bring people along with you) is paramount. Pa-ha-ra-mount. Basically, every time you open your mouth in a critical business situation, your credibility is at stake.

The spoken words can help you connect, influence and inspire.

Here are 3 mistakes to avoid.

The mistake: thinking that presenting is all about the presenter

It’s very tempting to assume that all eyes are on YOU. After all, your job is to say something impressive when presenting your plan, to perform, and to demonstrate that you do know what you’re talking about, right?

If you’re less confident when speaking in public, you’ve probably felt rather nervous, especially during the build-up. What if your face goes red like last time? What if your voice shakes and is this your heart pounding? Why are your hands trembling?

At Ed Sheeran’s concert, did you worry about how anxious he might be feeling before entering the stage? As part of the audience on the “Graham Norton Show”, do you look whether his guests’ hands are shaking or whether one will start blushing? No. You simply wanted Ed to sing his heart out because you got a babysitter for your kids and wanted to enjoy a date night with your husband. No. You wanted Ricky Gervais to entertain you in this show, because you’ve had a bloody tough week and were in need of a really relaxing evening. These were your priorities and the expectations you needed them to fulfil.

If it’s not about me, then…

The truth is: no one cares about any of these concerns. They don’t care about your nerves. The audience isn’t here for you. Don’t fall into this trap! Presenting & public speaking is about (you guessed it) them – the audience.

Picture your presentation from their point of view. Even more effective: think back about a time when you were in this audience and consider what your priorities were. You were likely more interested in whether the presenter had something worth listening to than whether they could feel their face go red!

Tips to NOT get wrapped up in how YOU yourself feel:

Ahead of your next presentation or key meeting, write down who makes up the audience and what you know of their expectations and priorities – this will help you make sure your presentation is relevant to the listeners.

5 minutes prior to your presenting, take a series of slow, deep breaths and remind yourself of how you intend to help the audience.

Adopt the mindset of “I’m looking at them”

Use the word “you” a little more often. This way, you’ll orient your ideas, proposal angle more towards your listeners than towards yourself. They will feel drawn into your presentation and feel engaged.

In a nutshell

One essential super strength of a great leader is to be a bloody good communicator. And a great communicator knows that when they speak to an audience, it is never about them. The secret lies in making it all about the audience. The good news is this isn’t the turf of extroverts, everyone can be a great communicator if you genuinely put the conscious work into it and practice, practice and yes, you guessed it again, practice.

🌿If this is piquing your interest and want to help your team of emerging leaders develop strong skills in this arena, let’s have a chat ! Speak soon!

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