Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Myth of "Just Be Yourself" Presentation Advice

Like all myths, this one has an element of truth in it. I mean, if you’re Carrie Cooper, you don’t want to try to be Lindsay Lohan, or anyone else. But….you want to shine as yourself.

In a presentation, your audience gets to see you as if through a rolled up sheet of paper -- they see a tiny part of the whole you.

Think about this analogy. If you’ve ever been in a wedding, you know how important the pictures are. I mean, they are e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y important. And does the photographer just trail everyone, who’s enjoying the wedding “being themselves?” Absolutely not. The photography of a wedding is a major event within the wedding itself. It takes place apart from the ceremony and the reception. And you try to smile brightly, look your best, and stand up straight. And still, the camera may catch you in a weird moment; tons of pictures get deleted. The point is, while the final pictures are of you and they’re excellent photographs, they’re not of you just kicking back and “being yourself.”

It takes practice, and savvy know-how to be spontaneous (read “natural”) when making a presentation. I got a sharp reminder of this the other day when I went to a photographer to get some professional pictures made. He was telling me to hold my head a certain way, smile a certain way….it felt totally awkward. I even felt a new level of respect for professional models But as I relaxed and got used to it, it began to feel more normal. And the pictures turned out great. Even my teenage son said I looked “sophisticated.”

So, when preparing for a presentation, you want to be yourself, your star-of-the-show self.