What really makes a great presenter?

I love presenting. I’ve not always been very good at it. My first outing was at a christmas party I had organised years ago, and I was told I had to introduce the evening. Legs shaking, I was nearly sick with nerves as I prepared to talk to 100 or so people. I can even remember holding the microphone with both hands to stop them shaking.

Also, unbeknownst to me, one of the exec team had been suddenly struck down with severe appendicitis and was on his way to hospital with a couple of others. But, all I knew, was that none of the exec team had showed up. I was a bit fed about it, but not that bothered, and thought I would make a joke. Turns out that was a bad move…this is how it went…just imagine this coming out in one big, nervous breath:

“Thank you all so much for coming, shame the others couldn’t bother, still, you’re better than nothing”

Then I realised what I’d said. Cue a bit of silence, and frantic introduction of next people and a large gulp of wine.

So, since then, I have been trying to improve my skills, the good news being that there was nowhere to go but up! I’ve made progress since then, but have struggled to make it interesting and captivating.

I read a great article a few weeks ago, by HubSpot, called “7 lessons from the world’s most captivating presenters“, I’ll let you read it, but it crystallised for me where I’d been going wrong. I used the advice at an event last week and it worked brilliantly – I’m no Steve Jobs, but am one step closer! The key lesson for me was:

  • 30 hours planning
  • 30 hours putting it together
  • 30 hours practice

A lot better than that Christmas of 1999!

About the Author

Charlotte Graham-Cumming

Director, Ice Blue Sky Ltd

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