How to Improve Your Business Presentation Skills – Part1

Many moons ago, when I first started presenting in front of groups of people, I used to wonder with awe at those seasoned presenters who seemed to just ‘have the gift’ of being able to stand in front of an audience and effortlessly present their ‘message’ or ‘ideas’. To hear them talk, I’d swear they were natural born ‘presenters’. Well guess what….they weren’t. In fact, even the world’s top presenters all began their public speaking careers as rank amateurs. I then learnt that, along with most things in life, it’s all down to practice.

It’s amazing what practice produces – in all areas of your life and business. The very best presenters today once all started in the same place. That first presentation, reading from notes and being terrified to try presenting without notes (we’ve all been there). It’s all down to confidence.

In a nutshell, the idea is that for any skill – from such a simple thing as tying your shoelaces to presenting in front of a group – there are basically four levels:

1st Level – Unconscious Incompetence – you don’t know that you can’t do it!

2nd Level – Conscious Incompetence – you now know that you can’t do it!

3rd Level – Conscious Competence – You now feel ‘confident’ at doing it but you’re still thinking about it!

4th Level – Unconscious Competence – You are ‘highly confident’ – striving to continuously improve and become an expert in your field. Most of the basic actions you employ are now automatic.

We all begin new things as incompetents – that is, we ‘don’t know what we don’t know’. Recognising this incompetence, however, is the first step in the learning process. Feeling OK about it is the next. It is only when we are willing to demonstrate our ignorance – to ourselves and others (without fear of failure) that we can move through this stage to a level where we can perform a task with a certain amount of competence. Can you remember as a child trying to tie your shoelaces? Wasn’t it so complicated the first time? How many times do you even consider thinking about that now? It has become totally automatic has it not? This is the same with ANY new skill that we learn.

Imagine that it could take about 500 hours of practising a skill to become really competent at it. You might radically reduce or ‘fast track’ that time if you have the advantage of good feedback. One of the most rewarding areas I have experienced when working with businesses is the radical acceleration of the business growth by implementing tried and tested methods that are already proven, rather than the business owner going alone and trying to ‘re-invent the wheel’. Many people are happy with being what they consider as ‘competent’. If they see themselves as “ok”, they stop practising. Others would like to be ‘outstanding’ – to be widely known as an expert in their field. It may, however, take even longer to go from being competent at something to being a real expert in your field.

So why would you want to be more than ‘ok’ in the field of presenting? Here’s 3 reasons:

1. The satisfaction of doing something very well.

2. To be rewarded accordingly (both socially and financially). To stand out above the competition.

3. There are two crucial areas in any business. The first is being able to deliver your ‘product’ with outstanding consistency. The second is being able to sell yourself to your prospects. To achieve this will requires a honed and well practised presentation. You can have the best product in the world, however if you have a poor presentation you simply won’t sell it. At best you will have a low conversion rate from prospect to client.

The 5th level – Excel at what you do. It’s more than ‘Unconscious Competence’. More than ‘just practice’. It is a level that only the really determined will ever achieve. Add passion and perseverance in the face of all odds. It also allows you to ‘niche’ your business and your pricing accordingly.

So here’s a thought or two:

  • 1) When you present yourself and your business – consider THREE areas where you have reached level 2 i.e. you are currently ‘consciously incompetent’. List THREE things you could do to get you level 4 i.e. ‘unconsciously competent’ in all three areas.
  • 2) When you present yourself and your business – list THREE areas where you have reached level 4 i.e. you have become ‘unconsciously competent’. Now list THREE things you could do to further add passion and improvement…
  • 3) Then the important part! Do something today to ensure that you act on just one of your six new ideas…

Look out for Part 2 on ‘How to improve your business presentation Skills’

I Want To Become a Better Presenter

I doubt if…

you’ll read all of these doubts – especially the last one!

-They’ll be interested in anything I have to say.
-Practicing would make a difference.
-Reading books and blogs on public speaking would help me improve my presentations.
-Video taping my presentation would help me improve my delivery.
-Having a digital recorder to capture ideas is worth the investment.
-Joining toastmasters is a good idea.
-I’ll ever get any better at presenting.
-Asking people for feedback would help me.
-Delivery really trumps content.
-Non-verbal communication trumps verbal communication.
-Using pauses in a presentation can have an effect.
-A smile really is universal.
-A strong opening and strong closing are really necessary.
-Repetition really reinforces a message.
-Using props would help the audience get it.
-The body language and facial expressions of the audience really give me feedback.
-My body language matters in my presentation.
-Q&a should be before the conclusion of my talk.
-I should redo those slides.
-Using industry buzz words and acronyms really hurts my presentation.
-I should be supplying the text and use images rather than bullet points.
-High quality images are better than cheap clip art.
-’Blanking’ the screen really takes the focus off the screen and onto me.
-Refreshing my speech would make it better.
-Writing my own introduction is better than just handing my bio to the emcee.
-Arriving early to met and greet people as they arrive would ease my fear of public speaking.
-Mind mapping is a tool I could use to develop, practice and deliver a speech.
-Speaking really gives me credibility and would help my career.
-I really need to study all the elements of verbal and non-verbal communication.
-Blogging regularly would help my speaking.

Finally, I doubt if you have any doubts. do you? if so, please comment.

Michael Jackson King of Pop: Past, Present, and Future

Michael Jackson – Pop music past present and future With all the change in pop music through the years there has been one constant name through 1966- 2010 and beyond. Michael Jackson “The King of Pop” amazingly has survived nearly 5 decades of music. His name has certainly been tainted through the last decade of court trials and tabloid magazines but his imprint on pop music will have an everlasting effect.

I don’t think the average music listener understands what “the gloved one” did to change the music scene as a whole and that is why I am writing this article. For example: Michael was the first to start singing his own background vocals on his albums. Before the hit record “Off the Wall” Motown had a union of backup singers that would sing on everyone’s albums. It turns out he was a genius because no backup singer would blend better with his voice than his own. He continued to push the envelope with creating his unique sound by stacking his vocals on everything from leads to harmonies.

It was said he would stack up to 50 vocal tracks on one song to create the overall sound of the final recording. The one thing that still stands yesterday, today and forever is Michael Jackson’s performance of “Billie Jean” on a 1983 television special produced by Suzanne de Passe for Motown Records, to commemorate Motown’s twenty-fifth year of existence. If you have not seen this ground breaking performance I urge you to visit and watch it! It is still one of the coolest things to see when Michael broke out the moonwalk for the very first time for all to witness the magic of this dance move. There was a collective gasp in the audience as MJ seemed to defy the laws of physics. The song and that moment is timeless and still gives me goose bumps today.

Michael did something else that night that was not done in Pop music before. As he stood in the spot light posed like a manikin with his Seagram’s jacket and high water pants while holding his James Dean hat with one diamond bedazzled white glove. Everyone was wondering where his band was. Michael Jackson once again had broke proto call and decided he could carry the show all by himself. There was no one else on stage but the magic of MJ. This had not been done before, not like this. He wrote history that night.

Michael was also the one who started to produce his own beats and turned music videos into a seismic epic event. Now that it is normal to stack vocals on recordings and perform without a band we forget who was the one who set the bar so hi. Today’s pop star still has a difficult time comparing to the glory days of “Off The Wall” and “Thriller”.

If you take a look at the documentary of “This is it” you will see the dynasty of Jackson was going to break ground again. Revolutionizing the way we would perceive live music with 3D cameras, light shows, and an interactive experience for the audience not to mention the electric outfits that were designed for Michael the tour he didn’t end up doing. In this case electric is not a figure of speech.

In my closing thoughts I would like to include this little piece of trivia concerning my all-time favorite song in M.J’s catalog “Billie Jean”. Did you know that Quincy Jones and Michael had some serious disagreements on the track? Quincy originally did not like the song and it was almost removed from the album? The tune was mixed 91 times by audio engineer Bruce Swedien before he finalized the song with the second mix. Let’s just say they explored their options and usually the first ideas are the best. Pop music is Michael Jackson past, present and future like it or not.