Are you a creative presenter? If you don’t believe you are or have what it takes to present with impact then this article is for you. There is a creative presenter inside each of us.
At Mindful Presenter we believe that creativity is a gift we are all born with. We believe it is hardwired into us as human beings. The world is constantly seeking insight, innovation and inspiration; creativity is our chariot of self- expression. For many of us, even though we may not yet know it, our voice is the key to self-expression.
Creativity may be a natural gift but having the courage to express it isn’t easy for many. Liane Gabora, Associate Professor of Psychology and Creative Studies, University of British Columbia suggests that education can: ‘inhibit creativity by focusing on the reproduction of knowledge and obedience in class.’
Sadly, once we leave education many of us enter the workplace to spend our days simply using that knowledge in a culture of conformance.
In his brilliant Ted Talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity’ which has been viewed over 62 million times Sir Ken Robinson makes a compelling case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity.
The good news is that that there is a great deal that you can do today.
How to become a creative presenter
Creativity, like most human gifts is a ‘mental muscle’ which needs to be challenged and stretched to be strengthened. There comes a point when we have to stop talking about losing weight or getting fitter and start moving.
It’s time to get in the presenter’s gym:
1. Unleash your curiosity
Curiosity is the launching pad to becoming a creative presenter. Don’t make the mistake that so many people do by switching on your laptop to populate your usual template. Start by:
– Wondering what it would be like actually being one of the people you are going to present to. It’s an extremely difficult task I know but imagine asking yourself what it may be like living their lives, doing their job, sitting through so many business presentations.
– Imagining what you would say or do if you didn’t have to conform. If you worked in a culture where you could express yourself as freely and as openly as you’d like to.
– Forgetting everything you already know about presenting and have done in the past. What if this were your very first time, you had no fear, no history and no constraints. What would you do?
2. Challenge everything
Being a creative presenter means your job is to inspire change. You can only do that if you challenge yourself personally and professionally before you challenge your audience. Start by:
– Asking for feedback. Ask people you respect and trust to tell you what they like about the way you speak, present and connect with others. Find out what works well for you today and what may be holding you back.
– Telling yourself that your job is to do far more than simply inform and engage. You are also there to inspire and ignite something in your audience that will lead them to think differently.
Do you really need to use PowerPoint?
Do you really need an agenda?
Do you really need to start by telling them who you are?
– Challenging that inner voice of yours that tells you:
You’re not a good presenter
You’re not good enough
No one wants to listen to you
3. Crave clarity
To be a creative presenter you have to start with a high level of clarity about why you are speaking in the first place. That means being very clear on your purpose. Think deeply about what you are trying to achieve and the value of what you have to say will make to your audience. Start by:
– Understanding what your message is. If you can’t express it to yourself clearly and easily, you either don’t have one or if you do, your audience won’t understand it.
– Crafting a tweet to send to yourself. If you can explain your message clearly in a tweet you have something important to say.
– Creating a purpose statement to help you to become clear on why you are presenting and what you have to say.
4. Clear the path
To become a creative presenter, you have to understand what if anything is in your way. In a previous article I wrote called, ‘4 Obstacles to High Impact Presenting Which Can be Overcome’ I shared a bold assertion that the absence of mindfulness is often one of the major culprits. Start by:
– Preparing well in advance and practice by internalising your message, hearing yourself speak it and watching yourself present.
– Investing in a meditation practice, book yourself onto an improvisation workshop, stretch and challenge your vocal cords.
– Booking yourself onto a presentation skills training workshop or invest in some personal one to one public speaking coaching.
5. The call to courage
The reason so many of us struggle to find the creative presenter within us is because it takes courage. I read an article recently called ‘No One is Born With Courage, You Get It By Doing Difficult Things’. I disagree with the first part of that title although the second suggestion makes good sense to me. It’s hard to survive without courage and it’s my belief that it’s another of our incredible gifts. How we nurture, strengthen and use that gift is of course is another matter but make no mistake it’s there. Start by:
– Being prepared to be vulnerable. The article ‘5 takeaways on vulnerability from Brené Brown’s ‘The Call To Courage’ suggests that: “Vulnerability is our most accurate way to measure courage, and we literally do that as researchers.” Have the courage to leave the corporate spokesperson at your desk and to tell you audience how you feel.
– Focusing on connecting, rather than presenting. In a previous article I wrote called, ‘Public speaking and the power of courage’ I said, ’Public speaking and presenting is not a skill that most of us are taught and it’s certainly not something most people enjoy doing; for many the very idea of it fills them with dread.’
–Telling your audience stories, making your presentation all about them, not you. Being not just yourself, but your best self.
6. Create opportunities
In our presentation training workshops we hear highly intelligent, creative and talented professionals say things like:
‘You don’t understand’
Our response is always?
‘We do understand’
‘It is possible’
The solution is to start by:
– Focusing on the possibilities and opportunities rather that ‘the way it is now’.
– Collecting ideas and insights from others rather than doing everything in isolation.
– Daring to be different and to stand out from the crowd.
Creativity is a state of mind, nothing more; nothing less. It may not appear easy but it’s definitely within your reach. We owe it to our audience to:
- Make them curious
- Challenge their thinking as well as our own
- Give them clarity
- Clear the path
- Answer the call to courage
- Challenge the status quo
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