Many moons ago, when I first started presenting in front of groups of people, I used to wonder with awe at…
those seasoned presenters who seemed to just ‘have the gift’ of being able to stand in front of an audience and effortlessly present their ‘message’ or ‘ideas’. To hear them talk, I’d swear they were natural born ‘presenters’. Well guess what….they weren’t. In fact, even the world’s top presenters all began their public speaking careers as rank amateurs. I then learnt that, along with most things in life, it’s all down to practice.
It’s amazing what practice produces – in all areas of your life and business. The very best presenters today once all started in the same place. That first presentation, reading from notes and being terrified to try presenting without notes (we’ve all been there). It’s all down to confidence.
In a nutshell, the idea is that for any skill – from such a simple thing as tying your shoelaces to presenting in front of a group – there are basically four levels:
1st Level – Unconscious Incompetence – you don’t know that you can’t do it !
2nd Level – Conscious Incompetence – you now know that you can’t do it !
3rd Level – Conscious Competence – You now feel ‘confident’ at doing it but you’re still thinking about it !
4th Level – Unconscious Competence – You are ‘highly confident’ – striving to continuously improve and become an expert in your field. Most of the basic actions you employ are now automatic.
We all begin new things as incompetents – that is, we ‘don’t know what we don’t know’. Recognising this incompetence, however, is the first step in the learning process. Feeling ok about it is the next. It is only when we are willing to demonstrate our ignorance – to ourselves and others (without fear of failure) that we can move through this stage to a level where we can perform a task with a certain amount of competence. Can you remember as a child trying to tie your shoelaces? Wasn’t it so complicated the first time? How many times do you even consider thinking about that now? It has become totally automatic has it not? This is the same with ANY new skill that we learn.
Imagine that it could take about 500 hours of practising a skill to become really competent at it. You might radically reduce or ‘fast track’ that time if you have the advantage of good feedback. One of the most rewarding areas I have experienced when working with businesses is the radical acceleration of the business growth by implementing tried and tested methods that are already proven, rather than the business owner going alone and trying to ‘re-invent the wheel’. Many people are happy with being what they consider as ‘competent’. If they see themselves as “ok”, they stop practising. Others would like to be ‘outstanding’ – to be widely known as an expert in their field. It may, however, take even longer to go from being competent at something to being a real expert in your field.
So why would you want to be more than ‘ok’ in the field of presenting? Here’s 3 reasons:
1. The satisfaction of doing something very well.
2. To be rewarded accordingly (both socially and financially). To stand out above the competition.
3. There are two crucial areas in any business. The first is being able to deliver your ‘product’ with outstanding consistency. The second is being able to sell yourself to your prospects. To achieve this will requires a honed and well practised presentation. You can have the best product in the world, however if you have a poor presentation you simply won’t sell it. At best you will have a low conversion rate from prospect to client.
The 5th level – Excel at what you do. It’s more than ‘Unconscious Competence’. More than ‘just practice’. It is a level that only the really determined will ever achieve. Add passion and perseverance in the face of all odds. It also allows you to ‘niche’ your business and your pricing accordingly.
So here’s a thought or two:
- When you present yourself and your business – consider THREE areas where you have reached level 2 i.e. you are currently ‘consciously incompetent’. List THREE things you could do to get you level 4 i.e. ‘unconsciously competent’ in all three areas.
- When you present yourself and your business – list THREE areas where you have reached level 4 i.e. you have become ‘unconsciously competent’. Now list THREE things you could do to further add passion and improvement…
- Then the important part! Do something today to ensure that you act on just one of your six new ideas…
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To your presentation success,
Look out for Part 2 on ‘How to improve your business presentation Skills’