Having just completed tutoring on a four week evening course I wanted to take a moment to reflect on why I believe this bite size evening training is so beneficial to the delegates. Just a little over a month ago 8 diverse individuals met together with me to undergo our first Presentation Skills evening class. The group was made up of different ages, nationalities, backgrounds and job titles. All had in common a desire to be able to communicate with more clarity and impact. This involved them in pitching for new business, running a training course, delivering information and exchanging ideas. We had two and a half hours a week to work together to make the magic that creates a transformation in the way people communicate.

Week one is about first impressions. This involves looking at the habits that people have picked up over the years in terms of the way that use their voice and body language, the “stuff” that distracts from the strength of the message. People enjoy receiving feedback – particularly when there is a balance between what they do well and what they might do differently. In my experience they value feedback when it is given by someone who has not met them before, who has no axe to grind and who is able to offer insight into aspects of their “performance” that they had not previously considered. People also seem to feed off each other and learn by observing their colleagues and soon a common bond is formed amongst this group of strangers who all share a desire to learn and to progress. Objectives are set, some theory offered and then the delegates do their first presentation to the group. This is filmed so that there is a before and after record of their journey.

Week two concentrates on preparation and structure. Being crystal clear about your objective is the most crucial aspect in planning a presentation. It almost feels like once the hassle of knowing what to say is taken out of the equation people feel able to experiment and to develop the way that they say it. A technique for the opening (one of the most crucial parts of any story) is offered and we learn about the importance of making an entrance and taking control of the space that you occupy. We look at visual aids and how they can get in the way and upstage the presenter. We think about how to avoid that and the best elements of creating good visuals.

Week three we focus on the tools of presentation – the body, breath and voice. We look at how to use the breath to overcome nerves and to create a sound that is rich and vibrant in order to put across your message with maximum impact. We work on physicality and posture and combine the work by exploring text and then familiarising a poem or piece of prose before presenting this to the group. Usually at this point it starts to come together and delegates are able to feel for themselves the progress they are making.

The final week sees the delegates look at how to handle “difficult” questions and then deliver their rehearsed presentation and take questions from the floor. The differences between the way they present now and how they did on the first week are extraordinary and immensely satisfying to witness. Each week the delegates seem to be incubating new ideas, trying out different ways of doing things and it’s as if the week-long gap between sessions allows the learning to take root and then take hold. The level of confidence in the room is increased and the action planning that is done allows me to believe that progress will continue long after the delegates have left the building. I genuinely believe that this is a great way to learn.

Sandie leads our four week Presentation Skills Evening Class. To find out more about this course visit our Presentation Skills Courses page.