open, soft and visible

Hi guys,

Fair to say we’ve all been a bit slack recently. Our bad! As Ferris Bueller told us, life moves pretty past. And it looks like we haven’t been stopping much recently. But here I am! Back again! AREN’T YOU GLAD?

I had a pretty interesting day yesterday. I took part in a day long presentation workshop.

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When I got told (the afternoon beforehand) that I was to be on it, I spiralled. I literally ran downstairs to one of our creative rooms and burst into tears. And then called my dad. Because I’m an adult. Obviously.

You see, I hate public speaking. Absolutely hate it.Throughout school, college and uni, doing presentations was my absolute nightmare. It didn’t matter how much I prepared, doing it was just the worst. I do not like being the centre of attention and the thought of a room full of eyes staring, with a room full of ears hanging on to my every word, is the cause of a lot of my anxiety. But, part of my day-to-day job is presenting. Whether it’s to just my team, or outwards to clients. I do it. Because I have to. And hate every moment of it.

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So the thought of doing a day long workshop on presentations, WHILST BEING FILMED, just tore me up. No one likes watching themselves back on camera. And it’s even worse when you know you’ll be filmed and then critiqued on the footage! Let’s just say my self confidence was on the floor under my feet at the thought of it.

But, as per usual, my mind very much over thought the situation. And it turned out that the day was actually pretty good. And it’s not like I haven’t done anything out of my comfort zone before. Remember that happiness workshop I went to?

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There were five of us in the course, and one Teacher Dude. We did different exercises throughout the day and learnt about “how to be a great presenter” (spoiler alert: mainly just be yourself, do all the eye contact and keep your hands soft, open and visible).

We got filmed three times. The first was “casual”. Just sitting round the table and introducing ourselves. Teacher Dude filmed us each individually and then after everyone was done, we watched the videos.

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It was very weird seeing myself on screen. After watching, Teacher Dude first asked me “so Gretel, what did you think?”. And you know what? I thought it was okay. The image on screen, when the video finished, held on a frame of me with a massive smile on my face. I made a joke and replied with “look at me, I look so happy!” I then got told, by Teacher Dude and the rest of the group that that’s what I was. I am a positive presenter. I am authentic. I hold my pace well. I am relatable and I’m funny. Who’da thought?! My main critique for the first round was that although I held good eye contact, I also look up to the ceiling a lot. And I already knew I did that. It comes with the territory of having big ol’ bug eyes. I’m constantly searching for more things. I’m like a magpie! But instead of shiny goodness, I JUST WANT TO SEE EVERYTHING.

A little later on we did the “next step”. Which was leaning how to open a presentation. Introductions are “very important”. And 93% of impressions are made almost instantly, through “non-verbal” communication – so, how you hold yourself, the way in which you talk (not the content) and your body language.

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This time we had to stand at the front of the room and make a short introduction. A little who we were, what we’re here for and the aim of the presentation type thing. I, of course, being the total professional that I am decided not to talk about work at all (oops) and instead bounce off the fact that I was wearing a Nasa t-shirt. My aim of the presentation was the get everyone to come live on Mars.

Again, it went down well. And, honestly, it was just because I was comfortable in my bullshit haha. I’m a storyteller. It’s just who I am. So if I have the chance to use my imagination and make something up, then I’m having a great time. I can have fun with it. Put me in a situation where I have to talk about work though – no matter how long I’ve worked on a project, or how enjoyable it was – and it’s totally different. It’s just not that personal to me and so I find it difficult.

More learning and reading and then the final thing we had to do before the end of the day was a full two minute presentation. This probably should have been where I put that whole talking-about-work-is-difficult thing to good practice…but nahhh. I continued with my space themed fun and did two more minutes persuading the rest of the group to go live on the big red planet. Oops. It went down well though! And I’m pretty sure Nasa should probably hire me to give a rousing, very pun filled, demonstration as to why they’re so awesome.

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So, what did I learn?

Well, honestly, it was rather what did I re-learn. I went in to this knowing I can present. I don’t enjoy doing it, but I can do it. That was further emphasised to me. I went in to this knowing I over think things and that when I prepare things too much I beat myself up. I saw that. I felt that at times. I went in to this knowing that I’m “not a professional” and can only ever present “as myself”, just as if I was talking to my friends or family. And again, I saw that. The reason I was “good’ was because I was “authentic”.

So all in all, the day, if anything, just diminished the little negative guy who lives in the back on my brain and likes to tell me I’m stupid, or not good enough, or an embarrassment. My self esteem levels grew. I came out of that day confident! In myself and in my story telling techniques. And that, above anything, is enough for me. Who cares if I look to the ceiling every now and again, really.

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So how about you guys? Do you like presenting? What are your top tips? Picturing people naked? A shot of vodka beforehand? Let me know!

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