“How do I become a more dynamic presenter?”

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I was having coffee with a colleague earlier this week. She’s been working in training and development for a while, but felt her boss was looking for her to up her game. When she reached out to me, I told her to come to the coffee house with some specific thoughts on what she’d like to work on, and I asked her to bring her current training materials, too.

When she asked: “So, how do I become a more dynamic speaker?” I broke my advice to her down into three categories.  

1. Design. The value that an instructional designer should be able to bring to an organization is that they know how to put together an effective training program on any topic. It doesn’t matter if the subject matter is real estate or finance or software training or engineering or eye surgery. Good design means that it’s engaging and will lead to change.

I got the sense that my colleague was a little intimidated by working with people that are more senior than her or with people who have simply been working in (and training in) her industry for much longer periods of time.

My philosophy is that if you’re going to offer value to your organization, you need to have a little chip on your shoulder. Regardless of how things have always been done, you need to be able to ask: what is it that we want to accomplish here, what is it that people should be able to do, and how will we know they’re able to do it?

Perhaps your stakeholders will insist that there’s some lecture involved in delivering your content. That’s fine. As long as there’s also an opportunity for your learners to play with that content, experiment with applying it, and then show you what they can do well (and where they might need some follow up).

2. Comfort. Your audience needs to feel like they can believe in you. I shared with my colleague that she doesn’t need to be a subject matter expert, but she does need to be familiar with her content.

If you don’t know your content very well, then rehearse it until you know enough to either be able to respond to questions or can refer people to the right resources (or other people) who can provide a better answer. Yes, I’ve written about the boomerang technique before, but that’s more of a tool to respect others’ knowledge and experience. It’s not going to save you if you’re not familiar with your content.

The more prepared you are heading into a training session, the more comfortable you should feel… and the more your learners will be able to trust you.

3. Authenticity. My colleague noted that there are other trainers who are more gregarious and “bubbly” and full of life and she felt her supervisor might want her to be more like that with her own presentations going forward.

At the end of the day, we can only be who we truly are. If you don’t consider yourself a “bubbly” person, this isn’t really something you should try to fake. Your learners will pick up on it right away and then you have a credibility issue.

I told my colleague that as long as she’s confident in her design, as long as she’s prepared with her content, she simply needs to be herself and let her personality flow with her design as she looks to engage and inspire her learners.

What do you think? How would you respond to the question: “How do I become a more dynamic presenter?”

6 thoughts on ““How do I become a more dynamic presenter?”

  1. I would also add that if you keep your focus on the audience and what THEY need, involve them, and remain flexible so that you can adapt to the situation, you will be dynamic!

  2. Focus on one thing you’d like to improve–just one–during your next training sessions. For example, have more eye contact, avoid twiddling your flipchart marker, or speak slowly and enunciate for non-native speakers of the language you’re using. Once you’ve improved in one area, move on to the next. Don’t try to “fix” everything at the same time.

  3. Great post, Brian! I always put myself in the learner’s shoes and ask, “Is this truly about the LEARNER or the speaker?” and “Would I enjoy learning this the way it is designed?”

    • Thanks Krista! Two very good questions… and that last question you ask “Would I enjoy learning this the way it is designed” sometimes makes me shudder (because there are definitely times when I’m not practicing what I preach… and I honestly wouldn’t enjoy learning the way I myself designed something).

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