Every presenter is different, and each of us bring different skills and challenges to our talks. As you work to improve your presentation skills, one of the most important things you can do is to spend a little time thinking about what kind of presenter you are. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Reflecting on these questions can help you create presentations that play to your strengths and help you overcome your weaknesses.
We’ll talk later about some of the other qualities that can help or hinder your presentations, but one of the first things that almost every one of us has to face is the fear of public speaking. Some people are so scared of speaking in front of a group that they just can’t do it while others barely have any nerves at all. (I’m convinced that the only people who aren’t ever nervous are sociopaths). But it’s a factor in almost every presentation, and it’s something that every presenter will have to deal with one way or another. The more you understand about your fear, the easier it is to develop strategies to help you overcome it.
For our purposes, I’ve divided the different types of speakers into four broad categories: Refusers, Resisters, Reluctants, and (Real) Enthusiasts. (I had to fudge that last one a little so we’d have 4 “R”s to play with.) My usual disclaimer about grouping and labeling people applies here; not everyone will fit into a neat category. Some of us will exhibit characteristic from more than one group. For example, I tend to be an eager volunteer to speak whenever I’m asked, but I still have to deal with nerves every time I start a talk.
Over the next couple of entries we’ll look at the qualities shared by the people in each of these groups, how they deal with presentations differently and the special challenges they face.