Take Action to Improve Your Presentation Skills

For two weeks in October, I drove around with a chest of drawers in the trunk of my car.  I was supposed to bring it to the recycling center in my town since I no longer had use for it.  It took up most of my trunk space and every time I braked or made a sharp turn, the drawers flew open and then slammed shut.  When I heard that sound or looked in the rearview mirror and saw the drawers slide back and forth, I thought, "I really should do something about that."  

There were many solutions.  The most obvious solution was just to drive to the recycling center and get rid of them.  But I found excuses not to, like "I don't have enough time," "it's raining," or "the recycling center is closed."  

I even could have tried a temporary fix like taking the drawers out and keeping them separate so they wouldn't keep opening and closing or turning the drawers face down so they couldn't open.  But I said, "I guess it's not that bad – I can ignore it…" or "it's not that important right now – I'll get it done eventually…."

So I did nothing.  The pain of inaction was less than the pain of action; in other words, it was easier for me to do nothing than to do something.  It was easier for me to ignore the issue, pretend it wasn't there or listen to the sound and complain, than to actually find the time when the recycling center was open, drive there, unload it and be done.  

This principle also applies to improving your presentation skills.  Many executives, business professionals and entrepreneurs are not comfortable presenting in public and refuse to do it.  Or if they must do it, they are very anxious about it, are confused about how to prepare and have a less-than-successful experience, which merely confirms their anxieties and dislike of public speaking.  

Like the slamming of the drawers in the trunk of my car, the painful experience causes them to think, "I should do something about this – I should take care of it..."  And there are many solutions; they could practice more, join Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org) or hire a coach.  But they find excuses, such as no time, no money, it's raining… And they do nothing because the pain of inaction is less than the pain of action. 

Then, suddenly, the dynamic shifts.  Maybe a boss has made it clear that they will not get the next promotion unless they're comfortable presenting or maybe business is dwindling because they are unable to present to new clients.  Whatever the trigger, that nagging feeling finally becomes too overwhelming to ignore and then they do something about it.  Often, they call me and we start working together, because suddenly, doing nothing has become the worst option.  The pain of doing nothing has finally become greater than the pain of doing something.  

I eventually took the drawers to the recycling center – after 2 weeks of driving around with the painful reminder, the pain of inaction became too great.   Driving away from the recycling center, I had the feeling of a weight being lifted from my shoulders and I savored the blissful silence when I made a sharp turn….

So what about you? What will it take for you to take action to improve your presentation skills? When will the pain of doing nothing finally become too great?  

When you are ready to take action, call me about one-on-one or small group coaching.  And if you’d like to take a small and painless action step, visit www.gildabonanno.com to sign up for my free twice-monthly newsletter with tips to improve your presentation skills.  

 (C) Gilda Bonanno