Presenting: me, with all new features

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Not having taken any formal presentation training before, I wrote a short post about how I hoped my presentation skills might improve through some training I was to be undertaking. That training took place today, and was thoroughly enjoyable.

Nothing particularly unconventional about this course. Great little venue, spacious room for our small group to work in and a great facilitator.

Some of our preparation was around the theoretical side of presenting. No power points, just back to basics presenting skills. Find your subject, identify key messages, produce content and rehearse timings. This turned into a very analog process with the introduction of ruled index cards for presenter notes; as an iPad user, this I found really foreign! Incidentally, I also found that holding the cards and referring to these instead of a slideshow behind me was a tricky thing to do. It certainly demonstrated how you need to focus on breaking some of your bad habits (or staying aware of your good ones!)

There was one element to the course that surprised and pleased me – the use of video as a platform for reflecting upon our presentations. The presentation we were preparing took a while, and when complete we were asked to deliver to the group with the camera running. I was pleasantly surprised to see this and will hopefully be publishing the video here soon. If only there were more individuals prepared to use a widely available technology like this to review their own delivery. I’m not a competent presenter by any means, and found the video unusual to watch, but it was difficult for all the right reasons. You are observing your own style from a third persons perspective. You are – if viewing with an audience – enabling them to provide independent feedback on your performance. You can compare your actual delivery with your intended delivery; did you include everything you intended to? I could continue!

A few words about the venue. It’s at a place called the Centre for Strategy and Communication. The layout is very cafe style, with the reception space being flanked by a small bar and a dining area. There are a handful of private meeting rooms, but you could work equally well within the refreshment area. Wireless is provided free – I believe this is essential for any business welcoming customers today. Your presence is handled in a professional but not overly formal manner, which leaves you feeling very at home! Top marks to the company for delivering a great service.

Surreal moments seem to occur fairly frequently for me right now. Today was no exception. At almost three o’clock the facilitator asks ‘have you been on a course here before’. Most of us answer no. One, however replies ‘yes – it’s ice cream break time, isn’t it?’. Indeed it was ice cream break time. We stepped out of our room to be presented with a platter of ices from which we could choose one. What a nice way to liven up the afternoon coffee break!

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