One thing I hadn’t thought about when I began designing and building an online blogging course is the idea of presentation skills as a prerequisite for success. You see, for me, business building skills over decades in doing business is based on the colorfully written word.
My digital reputation is built around writing at the very core of every project. And, if you know me at all, you know I love splashing around in words. On paper or on the screen, that is…
Are You Suddenly Finding Yourself Onscreen Too?
With everyone stuck home avoiding Covid-19 and testing new video apps like Zoom, my presentation lessons from working on the Blog Bling Thing for months and months now may come in handy for many of you.
Words intrigue me, stimulate me, entertain me, take me places, teach me things, and let me share my thoughts and ideas too. How about you?
But pulling off the art of words from a verbal, and not an easier-to-edit written rendition is challenging. You might say, especially so, for a girl who muddles around in words!!
I now find I have a stammering problem…a lot of ah’s and um’s in my verbal delivery! But, recognizing these “ticks” is the first step to recovery, right?
If you’re mostly interacting on video, and not really presenting, take it easy on yourself and know some uh’s really won’t matter:) We are ALL learning something about video communications, recently.
The good news is, with each new LIVE presentation during the course’s Learning Sessions, it feels like it’s getting better. Or, at least, going better!
Here’s why presenting well matters so much:
- Each session needs to deliver as much value as possible.
- Distractions and environmental or technical interferences hijack focus.
- Communicating new ideas, discussing opposing viewpoints, and sharing research, helps people discover their unique path for optimizing their blogging results.
- Providing the right insights, information, and how-to’s to incite action for improving student blogs are essential for the course to be desirable, even, in demand.
- Truly memorable, high-quality presentations are useful and valuable beyond one date.
- Presenting gives the extra oomph for contextual meaning to any topic for better understanding and retention.
I’m practicing presenting, but indeed, for many purposes! I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable at all presenting, yet still, I show up more and more.
Pull Off Presenting With These Tiny Tips
One good thing already going on is taking a study and prep mode towards pushing myself to try video and to learn some things for creating course videos, so I’ve been exploring.
Experimenting using tips from Stephanie Liu and others for making quality videos, but easily, gave me some great insights and things to think about from the get-go. Here are a few silly things to remember as you start:
1- Don’t wing it—preplan for both smoother production phases and better end results.
2- Decide on your equipment needs and test connections in advance.
3- Design a streamlined process by creating action stacks or checklists for accuracy and consistency in your productions.
4- Double check the dumb stuff, like turning on the sound “ON” button, or make sure you’re not tapping the mic while recording, or notice and remove things that don’t belong in your video, like hanging wires, maybe.
5- Consider lighting and “scenes” (or setting) for your presentations. Test before going LIVE when possible.
6- Plan for and gather additional “props” as necessary, ready for use.
7- Know the material you are talking about inside and out—even if you’re working from a script—so you don’t need a script at all.
The first LIVE Session I did with Ryan Biddulph for the course, I was a nervous-wreck, didn’t sleep the night before with nervous energy, and talked so fast in my nervousness that I’m hiding it inside the course.
Yep, so embarrassing on the first one, I didn’t actually add it to the course, but merely give a link to it if you feel you MUST see it, future students! I’m also so anal, I re-recorded a portion of what was meant to be covered but maybe was glossed over with ramblings. I know.
A LIVE is LIVE, however, so really, there’s no take two, even if video editing is possible and useful. You still have to layout the main gist of things in a way that’s meaningful and valuable. So for our second LIVE, I improved the plan. It was a HUGE LIVE HIT. Also, I didn’t get the video recording. Which is seriously lame. But, sometimes it happens. (See why I suggest a routine plan in the form of a checklist or Action Stack?)
What I did differently after listening intently to valuable feedback from attendees, both good and not as good, is to make changes. Changes like writing out a script of my part to help alleviate those speaking ticks from my presentation. Besides, a script helps keep things on track, gives a better order to an agenda, and allows you to cover main points with clarity. (Later I found out working from a script isn’t a best practice. More coming on that.)
I practiced doing my scripts out loud, mostly late at night for my audience of bewildered kitties.
Additionally, I adjusted the lighting, background, and other set details, again based on feedback. Improving topics, adding resources and new information, and generally improving with every session is a goal for each time. Packing in the value and keeping a timeframe takes practice but, that’s been going pretty darn well. New ideas are always forming and coming alive, too. Gaining presentation skills takes practice, time, and work.
But, most intriguing about the LIVE Sessions are student interactions, and either questions or topics of interest that come up and then, how it’s (re)shaping the course. Guiding the course, in a way. And I think that’s a good thing!
SIGNUP NOW TO GET DETAILS FOR THE NEXT SESSION of How to Bling Your Blog & Feed That Hog…to create a business content hub to grow your business.
Presenting With Star Quality
In spite of improving little by little, I still want my course presentations to get better and better. Without the Walt Disney Studios at my disposal, it’s up to me, so I peeped a Webinar from ON24 for some hints. The webinar, How to Turn Your Webinar Presenters into Superstars, was presented by Mark Bornstein, Chief Webinerd & VP of Content Marketing for ON24 and I want to share some highlights with you because we all want to improve, right?
Because ON24 is a webinar tool, (one I wouldn’t mind getting someday) Mark gears his presenter tips towards delivering a successful webinar. I feel like everything translates perfectly for my purposes with presenting online learning sessions associated with the How to Bling Your Blog Course, just as well. He begins by reminding us we all feel self-conscious and boy-oh-boy do I feel that to be the case for me. How about you?
Mark’s attitude is not to waste time feeling inadequate (as we ALL do) and instead to get to work. He lovingly suggests you understand what you need to improve, and improve! By gum, that’s the spirit:) Here’s a list of what you can do (thanks, Mark):
- Watch your presentations
- Learn your weaknesses
- Ask your peers for honest feedback
- Read survey reviews
- Tape yourself to practice
- List your problem spots
Mark says a great personality helps you to be super engaging but, that’s just not everyone. So remember, your presenters are an extension of your business so please do try to put your best foot, or personality, forward.
People attending LIVE events online want to learn, to participate, and they want solutions, entertainment, authenticity, and human experiences. What a great six-point perspective, don’t you agree?
Get to Work: Presentation Skills in 3 Doable Steps
ON24’s Mark Bornstein boils it down to three steps. How convenient. Let’s go.
#1- Build Your Presentation
Mark explains how important it is to know what you’re doing. I know that sounds funny but, trust me, that was my first LIVE mistake. Because I think what he’s saying is, don’t wing it. Unless you’re really THAT good, which I am not. Ryan presents on the spot off the top of his head. I am not that good, not even close.
To start building your narrative, Mark suggests you identify one premise and outline from there.
His method is to outline your personal story and let the slides come out of that as an enhancement to the premise you are sharing. “Build to the cadence of your presenters,” he suggests as well as emphasizing a conversational quality over presentation mode in your story style.
“Script interactivity into your stuff,” says Mark and the easiest thing to do is simple Q & A. By the way, it’s okay to pause, wait for responses, or give a moment to let something sink in. I’m practicing this.
Speaking of practice…
#2- Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice, practice, practice means actually doing your presentation aloud, full out, and more than once. Oh my. It means my cats are going to be hearing from me a lot more and I am going to be taping and auditing my work for improvements prior to going LIVE. What? Yep, we’ll both be better off in the end, believe me.
But, hold on. Mark gives us two more parts to this vital lesson. The first is going to give some of you the heebeegeebees. Me too. But just do it anyway. Get comfortable with the tech. Practice. Test. Experiment. And go ahead and make mistakes. After that, it gets to be way more fun. Trust me, this hangup hung me up for a while, but please take it slow, a step at a time, and join me.
I learn something new in technology every day. For example, you can join ZOOM Meetings without going on audio or video and still participate. Take your time and get comfortable but, if you don’t go for it, you never will master it.
Now, Mark’s second part and best practice is a technique I am a little wary of, (or out and out, scared of!) and hate to think of NOT using a script. He says scripts are a no-no. Reading, nope. You may write and practice a script, or work from an outline, but in the end, the best presentations are delivered naturally and oh-my-gosh-no, no script. I’m over.
Okay, maybe this is something to aspire to for me. What’s your take on speaking or presenting LIVE? I know, “no scripts” most likely is the pro answer. Working on it for now…
3- Go LIVE With Your Presentation Skills
Why? Because you want to improve your presentation skills, right?
Yep, Mark suggests you use your fear as energy and get excited to take action. Be human. We can do it if we try. The only way to know how you do is to try it out and go LIVE. I had the comfort of a seasoned partner in Ryan Biddulph to get me started and I’m so happy he was nice enough to prop me up to take that action of going LIVE on Video for 7 weeks straight!!
I’m so proud of myself for making seven weeks in a row to deliver awesome blog blinging content. And so mad at myself for missing the March 11th Bonus Session (join reschedule 3/30/20) due to a serious allergic reaction, causing my face to swell, eyes glued closed, and a burning bright red hot puffy face. I thought about going on voice only but I seriously don’t think I could even do that much. It was painful for awhile there. I don’t want to scare people, you know?
Presenting Out Loud
Videotape what you do LIVE and review, make notes and improve a little each time. I feel a difference in my presentation and tech abilities as I go along and practice. I feel more secure as my skills and abilities improve and most of all, I feel inspired by the positive feedback on the information I am sharing and delivering with each LIVE appearance.
Blogging and my business blog are important to me and why this course is designed for your immediate use. Presentation skills are integrally important in shaping a transformative environment for learning out of the box. It helps you turn the doing part into actions to get real results for your business through my favorite digital asset of all—your blog.