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When you’ve been around the block a few times you get to know the neighbourhood. We’ve been around the presenting block for long enough to know about the tricky bits of footpath and that vicious cat at number 43. In the interests of, well, interesting things, we’re going to share a few of the little tips we’ve learned over the years.
1. Don’t fight it
Everyone knows about Fight or Flight, the body’s instinctual adrenaline response to a threat. But those responses only make sense if you’re a strong, fast person. There are other possible responses, and you might not have heard of them: Freeze and Fawn. Freeze is stillness and minimising yourself to avoid being seen. Fawn is the instinct to placate and please, to be submissive. If you have had trouble seeing your response to nerves in terms of fight or flight, this may help you better understand and mitigate your natural tendencies under stress.
2. Water's important, but not today’s water
You are a magnificent yet constantly oozing fountain. When it comes to presenting, you want to be well hydrated: skin glowing, brain plump, and crucially, throat clear and (sorry) moist. So, on the day of the big pitch, you drink water. Fine, good effort, well done you, but the water filling your cells right now is yesterday’s water. Did you drink it? Yesterday is when you want to be pre-loading water for today.
3. The tech is going to be different
No matter where you turn up to present, the tech available will be some Rube Goldberg configuration of wires and dongles and miniature train tracks and skyhooks and a very old custard square that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES can be moved lest the whole thing stop working. If you present offsite, turn up early and take your own everything, unless you like presenting to the vague memory of your slides. We would like to take this opportunity to implore every organisation to sort your [redacted] tech out.
4. Thanks for the Memories
We’re always telling people to get up on their feet. It’s great advice for fitness, for the dancefloor, to escape the drink you just spilled on the couch, and for rehearsals. When you rehearse in the same physical position you’re going to present in, you create muscle memory. When you come to actually present it will feel more natural, because your body has made an association between you saying these words and your body standing like this.
5. Everyone is a storyteller
As much as 80% of human conversation is gossip: stories about who is doing what with whom and why and how could she, honestly, at her age. Storytelling is a core part of our daily communication and in fact, much of what makes us human. Telling stories is how we understand ourselves in our social context, how we develop and express empathy, and how we found out about Dave’s giant marrow scandal. So we already have the ability to tell great stories – and The Pickering Group can help you find the right ones, hone them and make them business relevant.
These are just a few interesting little insights into the fascinating realm of spoken communication. Our work and ongoing research delves into everything from physiognomy to folklore traditions to HDMI adaptors that only exist to taunt us. We’re always distilling this information into ways to help our clients develop their most effective, authentic speaking practice. Check out our courses in business presenting, persuasion and storytelling, or revisit our tips and tricks for advice. If you have unusual tips that work for you, share them here!
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