If you get nervous doing a 20-minute presentation, imagine doing one for eight hours two days in a row to the same group. That’s what I’m facing next week when I teach a course at the University of British Columbia on public speaking.
Ah, you say, but teaching is different from presenting. Well, not when you’re teaching people how to present. Can you imagine taking a stand-up comedy course from someone who wasn’t funny?
Let me share two things that make my two-day Powerful Presentations course successful. The first is that I don’t do it alone. My co-instructor Joanna Piros and I have carefully orchestrated our material so that neither of us speaks for more than about 10 minutes at one time. That’s pretty well the maximum you can hold someone’s attention unless you introduce something that jolts them back to concentration.
Both Joanna and I know the course content very well because we wrote it and we can play off of each other because we each have a background in live television where there is no such thing as a “do-over”. In a nutshell, we are well practiced at the art of presenting. You should be too. It’s not enough to know the material, you need to know how to perform the material and that may mean spending some time talking to yourself in front of the mirror.
The other tip for success? Commitment. When the morning comes and I have to start talking in front of the class I don’t wish I were somewhere else, I commit to the two days in front of me and I honestly believe it’s about to be a positive experience for all of us.
A switch gets turned on in my head to let me know it’s time to be brave and perform. I may be acting but the role I play is the best “me” that I can muster. I turn that switch on by saying to myself two little words;