I was sat there the other night curled up on the couch with my gorilla feet slippers on and my smoking jacket and cravat (the gorilla feet slippers are a lie) and I was watching a documentary all about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. It was a brilliant programme but what stood out for me was that Mr Zuckerberg came across completely as himself. In one clip he presented to hundreds of people at a conference wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a hoody. I love seeing people who are comfortable just being themselves. The late Steve Jobs is another prime example. No airs or graces, just his jeans and a jumper, but it didn’t affect his credibility in the slightest.
Being yourself is a key ingredient in the rapport building process. Being yourself helps the audience warm to you, it helps you to relax and come across as genuine. You can have all of the fancy words and slides that you want but if you are ‘faking it’ then the audience just won’t connect with you.
Look at Gordon Brown – When he was Prime Minister he always came across as awkward. It was as though he was trying to be someone else and as a result the audience saw straight through it. He never really looked comfortable – it was almost like someone else was pulling his strings.
Mr Brown is a good example of how it can all go wrong if you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin.
I work with clients up and down the country, helping them to hone their presentation skills and I always say to them:-
• If you’re not funny – don’t try to be.
• Be proud of your accent but be mindful of your audience.
• Wear something that you are comfortable in and that reflects your personal style.
• Be comfortable with the words you are saying. If you don’t normally use big long words, then simply don’t use them.
It’s fine to be influenced by other presenters and to pick up some of their techniques e.g. the way they open or the way in which they answer questions etc but my advice would be never to copy them like for like.
In my experience, trying to be someone you are not just heightens the nerves. As Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” (Have I really just quoted Judy Garland in one of my articles?!)
I’m not saying that you should wear jeans and a jumper the next time you present but hopefully you get the gist, although I would highly recommend a smoking jacket and matching cravat.
Would the real you now please stand up?….
If you need a hand with your presentation skills, then get in touch now to see how we can help.