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We’ve all heard it before. One of the best ways to improve your presentation skills is to record yourself. When you’re done, review the recording to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Critique yourself against a checklist of skills. Evaluate items like speaking style, avoidance of speech fillers, confidence, friendliness, voice, posture, eye contact, facial expression and gestures, just to name a few. So, have you ever recorded yourself? Better yet, did you actually watch the recording?
I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I watched myself in action. I know I should practice what I preach because I, too, can benefit from this experience. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to present at the Training 2018 Conference & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. I was speaking about “How to Prove Your Value to the Organization.” It was a 60-minute break-out session. I thought, well, this is the perfect time to record myself. I’ll have a memory of the event AND I’ll be able to use it as a developmental opportunity. So, I brought my assistant (AKA, my husband!) to the conference to record the session.
Let’s start with the good news. The presentation went extremely well. The feedback was awesome! Now, for the not so good news. When I finally got the nerve to watch the video and see myself in action, the horror set in. Why did I talk so fast? Why did I use so many vocal fillers? Why didn’t I move the flipchart so everyone could see it? Why didn’t I monitor the tables? Who is this person?
I took a breath and questioned why I was only focusing on the negatives. I know it’s partly human nature. As a survival technique, our brain is wired to look out for what’s wrong. But clearly, this is not about survival. This is about improving my presentation skills. I decided to try it again.
This time, I focused on the positives. I hit play one more time and saw things from a different perspective. Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves. I was speaking clearly and knew my content. I had nice energy and enthusiasm. I used people’s names throughout the session. I simplified the content and shared solid examples to clarify the learning. I was holding everyone’s attention, and no one was looking at their phones. Everyone was taking notes and listening to what I was saying. The audience was asking questions and seemed completely engaged. I had a much better feeling about the session once I looked at the recording a second time.
So, what have I learned from this experience? First, even after 20+ years as a trainer, I can still be better. I can make improvements if I am willing to do the work. I like to think of myself as a student for life. I can’t afford to stop learning. Second, I shouldn’t focus solely on my weaknesses. I need to remember my strengths and continue to display them. I can work on my constructive comments, one at a time, and not let myself be overwhelmed.
What about you? Have you ever watched a recording of yourself? How did it go and what lessons did you learn?
If you’ve never had an opportunity to record yourself, check out our Polish Your Presentation Skills workshop. In one single day, you’ll take your presentation skills to a whole new level with three recorded presentations. You’ll also get instant feedback and discover your strengths in a highly supportive, non-threatening environment.