Presentation Skills Ladder, Level-1


Where are you on the “Presentation Skills Ladder” (Part 1)

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When people start to be given responsibility for presenting as part of their work, it is natural for the majority of their thinking to be about themselves – what will I say, how will I look, will I screw up, will I lose their respect, etc. This kind of thinking often causes a trigger of the defence mechanism of the brain – the amygdala – otherwise known as the “fight, flight or freeze” response.


. Frozen

The “fight, flight or freeze” response is the mind’s natural reaction to a perceived harmful event. It is a normal response if you have not developed your presentation capabilities in parallel with your technical proficiency. Your people naturally expect you to be able to present information in an engaging, interesting and insightful way. Your concern that you may not do this, and therefore lose their respect and their confidence in you, triggers the amygdala to protect you. Freezing doesn’t only happen while you’re presenting. It most often happens while you’re thinking about presenting. After you’ve frozen a couple of times, you may start to put more effort into preparing your presentations in the hope it will give you more confidence and authority.

· Foolish

In order to avoid freezing, many people start to put effort into preparing their presentations, but not much. They might create a bullet point list of topics, put those points onto slides, and then wing it based on their knowledge of the subject matter. Their presentation becomes very focused on what they know and what they’ve done (keeping them in the “I” focus area). Eventually, sometime during their presentation, they will get distracted, or get asked a question, that makes the presentation go completely off topic and becomes a ramble and leaves the presenter looking foolish. You know you’re at this point when you arrive at some place in your presentation that you did not plan to arrive at, and don’t know how you got there. Again, after this happens a couple of times, the natural reaction is to start putting lots of content into the presentation.


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David Wayne