Just picture your audience in their underwear. This is common advice given to someone who is nervous about public speaking. Taking it a step further, it is said that Winston Churchill overcame his fear of speaking by picturing his audience naked. It may have worked for him, but I think it’s way too creepy.
CX leaders typically deliver lots of presentations and how you show up makes a big difference. Without question, if you are fearful or anxious, it will limit your effectiveness in the way you present your material. However, this isn’t just about being confident. In fact, confidence can lead to the wrong attitude. Consider these two:
- I’m the expert. As CX professionals, we often collect and analyze a lot of customer intelligence and sometimes that can make us feel like we’ve got it all figured out. We may come to a presentation with lots of data and analysis ready to reinforce our expertise and explain to others how things should be done. But it can backfire. Let’s say you’re facilitating a workshop with account managers who spend lots of time with customers every day. If your information doesn’t line up with their perception, it won’t matter how accurate your information is; they likely will dismiss it and it will just make you seem aloof.
- I’m the hero. Sometimes CX professionals enter a presentation with a well-intentioned heroic attitude. “I’m going to share great insights that will make a big difference! My audience just needs to listen and take action on my advice and we’ll accomplish great things.” As so well stated in the book Resonate by Nancy Duarte, “You’re not the hero!” She eloquently explains that your audience is the hero. After all, they are the ones who will actually do something with your insights, so you need to approach your presentation with a degree of humility.
The head and the heart
Like many people, I struggle with approaching a presentation with the right attitude. I want it to be good. I want people to like it. I want people to like me. However, when I prepare to deliver a presentation and feel right about my approach, two words sum up my attitude: thoughtful and generous.
It comes down to what’s in my head and what’s in my heart. If I have prepared effectively, my head contains good information that I have thoughtfully assembled and I’ll deliver it with the right intention, straight from the heart.
So for your next presentation, don’t picture everyone in their underwear. Instead, ask yourself, “What’s in my head?” (hopefully lots of good insights thoughtfully prepared) and “What’s in my heart?” (hopefully a generous attitude ready to help your audience).
If you have the right head and heart, you can be pretty confident of what will come out of your mouth!