2 mindsets you need to become an effective presenter

 
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What does it take to learn effective presentation design?

If you’re like most people who have attended one of my webinars or spent time checking out my resources, at some point you might wonder:

“WOW. What does it take to learn all this stuff? Can I even do this? I don’t even like working on my slides that much.”

Because you’re seeing my presentations after about 15 years of trying to make them effective and engaging, it can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re only just now starting on that path.

That’s why I wanted to write this blog post, so I can talk about this a little more and reassure you that YES, you can do this!

Yes, obviously you’re going to need new slide design skills…BUT

Effective presentation skills are more than just technical PowerPoint (Keynote, Google Slides, etc) skills.

And in this series, we’re going to dive in to some of those non-technical aspects.

We’re going to find out what makes someone an “effective presenter” and…more importantly, see if you have what it takes to be one.

(Spoiler Alert: I’m guessing you do!)

So…what are the attributes of an “effective presenter?

 
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Before we get started, you might want to grab the FREE DOWNLOAD that comes with this post. It has a refresher on the key points and some additional questions for you to reflect on to determine whether you have what it takes to present effectively.

 
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Before I talk about what makes someone an effective presenter, I want to address some public speaking tips that are myths.

Specifically, public speaking myths about what type of person or personality you need to present effectively.

For example, have you heard (or believed) that someone needs to love public speaking if they want to present effectively? That if you’re anxious about public speaking or hate it, you can never be a great speaker?

 
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What about the whole extrovert vs introvert thing: Do you need to be extroverted? Are introverts doomed to forever be terrible presenters? 

 
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Or, maybe you’re thinking that you need to be “artistic” or “creative” to create engaging, visual presentations?

 
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What about experience? Does effective presenting simply come down to making a lot of presentations, and someone needs to wait decades until they can truly be an effective presenter?

 
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Finally, and probably the most common: Does someone need a TON of extra time to create beautiful, visual, and well-designed slides?

 
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Well, I’m glad to share the good news with you today that NONE of those need to be true for someone to be an effective presenter.

I mean, I guess they don’t necessarily hurt, but you do not need any of that to be the type of presenter that audiences love.

You don’t need any of that to deliver lectures that your students enjoy or to teach people dry, technical information in an engaging way.

 
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And before you go, “that’s easy for you to say, Echo, you’re clearly an extrovert who loves public speaking.” 

lolololololol.

howls

I am so NOT.

I am about as high on the introvert scale as you can probably get (#INFJ here).

LITERALLY, THE REASON I even started making cool presentations was MAJOR overcompensation for my fear of public speaking.

“You’re such a great speaker, Echo!”

“Your presentation was awesome!”

“You did SO GOOD”

Those were compliments I started to hear as an undergrad (i.e., not after decades of experience).

What they didn’t know was that I sometimes threw up before a presentation and that 99% of the time, my hands were shaking the ENTIRE TIME.

Yet, people still loved my presentations.

That’s how I know that even newbie introverts who hate public speaking still have a fighting chance to deliver the type of lectures, conference presentations, etc that get them tons of compliments afterwards.

You might be thinking #SurvivorBias right about now. And that’s fair … especially if you try to do this alone without any help (like I had to). So, then I’ll just say to please give me a chance to train or coach you in your presentation skills. Because not only have I fought my way out of that to get to where I am now, I’ve learned a ton along the way AND learned how to help others who are struggling with similar challenges.

I’m not the type of person who thinks, “that’s how I overcame this challenge, so you need to overcome it in the same way.” I’m the type who thinks, “that’s how I overcame this challenge, so let me help others avoid all that hassle and stress.”

…okay now where was I?

 
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What DO you need to be an effective presenter?

Okay, Right. So let’s talk about what you need to be an effective presenter.

Obviously, there is skill involved. No one is born an effective presenter, so you have to develop technical and communication skills. That’s pretty straightforward and I talk a lot about that elsewhere.

But the part I don’t see a lot of people talk about, what I’m focusing on for this series, is that you also need the right mindset.

Wait, wait! Before you close out, because you think I’m just gonna tell you to “believe in yourself,” let me reassure you that’s NOT what this is about.

(tbh, I’m a pretty cynical person and I didn’t believe in myself at first…yet I still figured it out)

So, give me a chance to explain what I mean before you close out. 

 
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[MINDSET #1] You have a strong need to make an impact. 

Surprised? :)

Does that sound like you? Let’s find out.

Ask yourself: on a scale of 0-10, how important is it that your audience understands and remembers what you say? 

I know that might depend on the audience and the presentation (e.g., whether it’s a lecture for your class, a guest lecture, conference presentation). But generally speaking, where do most of your presentations fall on this scale?

 
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Here’s another way to think about it. If someone asked a member of your audience, what they thought of your presentation…

…and they basically didn’t remember anything… 

… how would you feel about that? 


 
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Rate your response on a scale of 0 (don’t care) to 10 (really care)…If, after attending your presentation, someone said “I don’t…really remember much?”

Would you not care that much?

 
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… or would you be really frustrated or upset about it? 

 
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If you said a number between 0 to 5, then I’m gonna be honest, you don’t have what you need to create effective presentations, at this moment in time. 

But if your answer was a 6 or higher, then fabulous! you DO have what it takes.


[MINDSET #2] You truly care about your audience’s experience.

Does that sound like you? Let’s find out.

Ask yourself: on a scale of 0-10, how important is it that your audience has a positive experience while watching your presentation?

 
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For example, if most people said “wow. I was so confused and so bored during that lecture” about your presentation, how would you feel?

Again, maybe you wouldn’t care all that much.

Rate your response on a scale of 0 (don’t care) to 10 (really care)…If, after attending your presentation, someone said “wow. I was SO confused and so bored during that lecture?”

Again, maybe you couldn’t care all that much?

 
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Or…would you be devastated. Crushed. Embarrassed.

 
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If you said a number between 0 to 5, then I’m gonna be honest, you don’t have what you need to create effective presentations, at this moment in time. 

But if your answer was a 6 or higher, then fabulous! you DO have what it takes.

Again, if you aren’t really that upset by the idea that people might find your presentations boring or confusing, then you won’t really be able to create effective presentations (right now).

I mean, you can’t please every SINGLE person…but yeah. If most people felt that way…

….that they’re so uninspired by my talk that they’d dread watching another one of my presentations…. 

But, if this is upsetting to you then, without a doubt, you have what it takes to create effective presentations. 


By now you’re probably wondering why these are so important, and how this is different than saying “believe in yourself!”

Here’s why:

Because if designing presentations that make an impact and create a positive experience for your audience isn’t a priority, then you will always feel like it’s taking too much of your time to make an effective presentation.

Even if you spend only an hour, you’ll feel like that was too long. And you’ll be more focused on doing it quickly rather than effectively

BUT if you DO care about making a positive impact and creating a positive experience for your audience, then you won’t be as focused on how long it’s taking you. You’ll more easily understand that an effective presentation is a form of communication and it takes time to do a good job.

 
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And that means, by default, you’ll do a better job because you’re more willing to put the effort into it. 

PAUSE.

Did you say you wanted to make a lasting impact with your presentations, create a positive experience for your audience, but you also feel like you should be able to pump out an engaging and compelling presentation in just a short amount of time, days before a presentation?

If so, then we’ve got a problem, my friend…

…because it’s rare to design a presentation that leaves a lasting impact AND creates a positive experience for your audience if you just want to spend a couple hours on it and start only a few days before you give it.

Those things can’t really co-exist (at least not most of the time).

“Wow, Echo. You’re kind of a jerk.”

If this is the very first post you’re reading from me, this might come across as a rude or insensitive post.

Maybe it sounds like I’m shaming or judging you. But, that’s truly not my style. That’s not what I’m about.

What I’m trying to do here is help you take an honest look at where your priorities are right now.

We all have different priorities, and those shift over time. So I’m here to help you think about the right types of questions, so you can make an informed decision about where presentation design fits into your life right now.

 
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Taken together, I hope my entire blog post series will help you decide whether you want to take presentation skills training, coaching, or just have someone else design your slides (or…none of the above).

For example: Did you say you wanted to make a lasting impact with your presentations, create a positive experience for your audience, but you also feel like you should be able to pump out an engaging and compelling presentation in just a short amount of time, days before a presentation?

Then maybe a 12+ hour online course isn’t the best for you…maybe a 4 hour crash course would be better?

Maybe you would prefer 1:1 training or outsourcing your slide design.

So, now you know two mindsets that will help you present effectively: (1) you have a strong need to make an impact, and (2) you care about your audience’s experience. 


And if you said you wanted to make a positive impact with your presentations, and that you want your audience to have a positive experience, then I can help you achieve those goals!

 
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If you’re looking for some presentation training & coaching, I have:

If you’re short on time and looking for some custom slide design work instead, I also do that!

Contact me for more details.

Don’t leave without grabbing the FREE DOWNLOAD for a refresher on these key points AND some extra questions about mindsets that help you present effectively.

 
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with joy,
Echo Rivera, PhD