Some notes on presentation skills

James Garside by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

I had the opportunity to attend Presentation Skills training with the wonderful Jane Oakshott.

This was incredibly helpful for dealing with panic attacks and performance-related anxiety in public speaking.

These are my unedited notes that I took at the time.

I may write this up later as a more detailed post if people find it helpful.

  • Breathing diamond is where your self confidence lives.
  • Roll shoulders back, head is held on string to ceiling like toy skeleton. Spine goes all way up through your head.
  • Breathing out is what you speak on. Breathing in is automatic.
  • Seventy percent of your message is visual. Can they see you and see your mouth?
  • Stand confidently, look it and your body will follow and your mind follows your body. Twenty percent is aural, can they hear you, do you sound confident relaxed authoritative etc.
  • Ten percent is content, what you say. So you can have it ninety percent in the bag before you even think about content.
  • When you speak they hear every word as you say it but it takes 500 times longer for them to process it. So you need to speak 500 times slower at their processing rate.
  • Tightening your belt will be giving you panic attacks. You can’t breathe like that.
  • Words are like sweets. Old actors trade secret. The sounds go straight into being processed by the part of the listener’s brain that processes emotion. The actual word and consonants are the wrapping container around that emotion.
  • Turn the spotlight of your self talk inner critic out onto your audience. Let it monitor them instead of your performance. Who are they, are they ok, what do they need?
  • This made me think about writing and a way past writer’s block. Turn the inner editor’s focus off what you’re writing and onto the world. Or onto the audience in terms of listening angel. You are the writer your inner editor has the chance to play all-seeing recording angel and you’re writing for the listening angel. So think about that instead.
  • Communicate with the person you’re telling the story to, that’s more important than how you look doing it.
  • Recording angel sees everything.
  • Teacher said I speak very well and sound confident and clear even when reading text. Plus the entire room said the same thing. Performing better than you think and panic attacks are internal more than external.
  • Occurs to me that a lot of my fear is actually displacement anxiety because I don’t care about or fear I don’t know “what I’m supposed to teach” and am second guessing the amount of knowledge of that kind required to teach English as a foreign language which is silly really as I’ve no way of knowing that’s really the case on a school-by-school basis.
  • Plus one of the teaching techniques she said to use was to remember that the 90% of how you package it is what makes them want to follow you and learn. Care about that and allow them to follow you.
  • The best communicators, yourself included, tend to be the ones who care the most about it and are therefore the ones who show up at these sort of workshops as they worry about it. Whereas the assholes who carry on without any awareness of their audience send them to sleep. I’ve also heard the same thing said about writing.
  • All communication is like this and you’re a naturally gifted communicator, sensitive to the needs of the audience and with naturally great content irrespective of the subject and including TEFL because of your own unique take on things and disarming honesty. You already have countless examples where the audience took your side no matter how nervous because they liked you, plus the near hundred percent satisfaction rate with your work.
  • People listen when you speak and you have a resonant voice.

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NCTJ-qualified British independent journalist, author and travel writer.


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