“No matter how good you think you are, there will always be someone out there that can kick your butt. But never stop improving because it will lessen the bruises.” –My high school karate instructor
During high school, I became quite advanced in karate. And being in high school, at times I really thought I was “all that.” Don’t get me wrong, karate is an amazing sport and discipline and taught me many life lessons. And one critical lesson came from my instructor, summed up in the quote above. It embodied two important key life skills – humility and self-improvement.
In this post, I’d like to address one example of the latter concept – self-improvement. Having been in the Presales vocation since 1995, I’m often asked how I approach continually improving my Presales skills. Related to this topic, I was recently asked the following question by a college student: “What was the hardest training session you’ve ever had?” This is a great question because some of the largest growth in my career have come after some of the hardest experiences.
The hardest training session I’ve ever had personally is watching myself on a recorded video of a presentation I gave to a live audience. Why was this so difficult? Because this training involved 2 activities that are very difficult by themselves and incredibly difficult when combined together.
First is speaking in front of a live audience, especially in front of a large audience or one composed of your peers or colleagues. This alone is very tough for most people. Many sources list the fear of public speaking as one of the top 3 of all personal fears.
Second is watching yourself on video doing such a challenging (and for some, terrifying) activity. When you watch a video of yourself, you remember your fears and feel all of the anxieties all over again. Also, watching any mistakes you made feels like a painful slow motion remake of your presentation and you find yourself saying things such as “why did I say that”, “I should have said…” and even “what was I doing with my arms??”
This is exactly why it was the hardest training session I’ve ever had. And probably would be for many others. But it was also one of the most helpful and impactful training sessions I’ve ever had. Here’s why:
- When you learn to present to an audience, you gain a large amount of confidence that helps you throughout your life, both professionally and personally.
- Getting feedback from others is very helpful, but you know yourself the most and watching yourself on video provides a unique evaluation perspective.
- You feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when you improve yourself after going through this type of training.
So what can you do to improve?
There are many resources available to assist with public speaking. I believe watching Ted Talks of any kind are very helpful. Certainly watch for the presented topic, but also watch paying specific attention to how the speakers talk, move around the stage, tell stories, and present information. They are some of the best.
For recording yourself on video, you can simply ask someone to record you using their phone which is very easy. However, I recommend using a simple tripod so that you are not distracted by a video moving around while you are trying to evaluate yourself. In any event, keep it simple.
Let me share a few pointers:
- Watching yourself on video is liking eating vegetables as a child. It’s super good for you, but painful to do. You just need to make yourself get through it.
- Plan ahead to record yourself at an event. Bring a tripod, figure out the best location before the event, and ask someone to help you out.
- Record yourself practicing your activity in private. This helps you get used to being recorded.
- Be yourself! The more you try to be someone or something different, the harder it becomes. Embrace the unique and amazing you!
- Remember to try, try and try again. And again. And again. #NeverGiveUp
- There is a saying that perfection is the enemy of good, and it applies here as well. Unless it is something critical, don’t burn yourself out trying to perfect the last 10-20%.
Our book 3D Presales provides many additional resources to help you master your skills:
You can do this!