Great presenters make it look so effortless. They take the mic, reel through their points, nail the highlights, and walk off to a hearty handshake or a thunder of applause.
The best even make it feel natural. There isn’t a hint of a script in their pitch — it’s as though all those ideas almost came off the cuff.
Of course, those same speakers will be the first to tell you just how important practice really is. That no one is born with a knack for delivery — it is learned through study and earned through experience.
Most important of all, they’ll tell you, is practice. But that’s only half-true.
Public speaking classes are great. So are Toastmasters groups and other forums for presentation practice. Even just time spent running through a presentation over and over in front of the mirror is valuable for improving the final performance.
However, in the words of career coach Shweta Khare in a recent Forbes article: “None of these methods will be effective if you do not ensure a proper feedback process, either by recording (video/audio) and self-evaluation, or through a feedback process where you actually get to see or hear your audience’s response.”
Media Training Worldwide CEO TJ Walker puts it even more directly: “You must record your entire presentation on video and then watch it. You absolutely must do this. It is the only way to find out if your presentation is any good. You have to watch yourself giving your speech. You can’t just stare at words written on paper. The presentation is you actually speaking, so you have to edit the rough draft of you actually speaking.”
Every kind of presentation — from giving a keynote address to simply chairing a meeting — is equal parts communication and performance. As the person leading the conversation, you must expect your audience will attend to not only your every word, but your every non-verbal queue as well.
As Walker described, video allows you to see how comfortable or not-so-comfortable you look while presenting. Watching a recording of your practice presentations will often provide instant insight into where you may struggle with ideas or transitions, where you may miss points, and how well you hold your narrative thread from start to close.
In other words: It helps you see your performance the way your audience will.
Businesses have been asking employees to develop their presentations skills for generations. Many have even gone so far as to request universities make presentation skills a core part of their curriculum — a request that has already yielded creative approaches in academia, as evidenced by the new presentation skills lab at University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
Still, today’s businesses must solve this challenge for themselves. As the information age progresses many organizations now find most of their employees are knowledge workers — and that their success depends not on more efficiently assembling a widget but on more effectively promoting an idea. Just look at the skills IDC found to be in greatest demand in today’s job market — especially for “High-Opportunity” positions:
But effective communication isn’t an innate gift — it’s a skill, learned with experience and honed with practice. Fortunately, enabling that practice today is easier than ever.
In the past, recording a practice presentation would have entailed bringing in a specialist and an AV team, finding space to record, then waiting a week or two for production.
Today we all have access to convenient, high-quality video cameras built right into our smartphones and laptops. Employees can practice whenever and wherever they like — just click record and get started.
And if your organization has a video platform like Panopto, you can even extend those practice sessions for additional feedback, particularly to those who can’t make it to the practice session. Once a practice session is recorded, presenters can instantly upload and share the video with peers, managers, or anyone else in the organization — who can then provide feedback with notes and comments right in the video file.
We have the technology we need to help ourselves, our colleagues, and our teams become better presenters and better communicators. All we need to do is use it!
Panopto is a video platform designed to deploy on every desktop in your organization, making it easy for anyone to record their practice presentations — as well as to share best practices, capture product demos, offer insights from HR and executives, and more.
To see how Panopto can make video easy in your organization, contact our team for a free 30-day trial.