No matter how talented one may appear, every presenter typically has a few habits he or she is trying to break. I’m referring to the habits that just don’t seem to want to go away, such as body rocking, pen twisting, lectern clutching, or the dreaded “umm and ah” filler word addiction. The list is almost endless, but the solution is fairly easy, and it’s a solution that doesn’t just apply to presenters.
The first task is to determine exactly what it is you want to work on. This may appear obvious, but think how often you’ve targeted a handful of changes to be made, and wound up changing nothing. The solution starts by isolating one, tangible, vital problem. That means sifting through the trivial many and focusing on the vital few. For instance, unless you are unusually clumsy, dropping a marker on the floor once would be considered a “trivial many” problem. Consistently struggling to make proper eye contact with your audience would be considered a “vital few” problem, and clearly worth solving.
Once you have determined which significant area it is you want to work on, try using a simple reminder such as a Post-it® to help you. For instance, if you want to smile more when you speak, post the word “smile” on the lectern to the side of whatever notes you have in place. Even though you may be turning pages in the curriculum, the word “smile” remains in place. With all due respect:
- Most of us can stop frowning and smile; we just forget to.
- Most of us can stop rocking; we just forget to.
- Most of us can stop twisting a pen; we just forget to.
- Most of us can stop clutching a lectern; we just forget to.
- Most of us can stop saying, “um” or “ah”; we just forget to.
Sounds simple? It’s so simple that almost no one does it. The reason is this: We often get a little too ambitious with our reminders. After all, if one Post-it® would take care of forgetting to smile, why not try two Post-its® and solve two problems? Think how great it would be to get rid of your two biggest problems at once! I’ve seen people run with this idea and quickly end up lining the lectern with countless Post-its. That makes for a colorful lectern, but a useless suggestion.
The “Power of One” doesn’t just work for presenters; it works for most major issues we are trying to correct. Instead of posting a reminder on a lectern, you can post that reminder at your desk, to the side of your computer screen, near your phone, heck, you could even make it part of your welcome screen on your smartphone. The key is one reminder, just one, where you can’t help but see it. Eventually, this solution works its way from a conscious behavior to an unconscious behavior. Once that happens, you can celebrate by moving to the next item on your list!
It’s not the problem itself that keeps us from solving it; it’s forgetting the problem exists.
Often, correcting problems starts by forcing yourself to become more aware of them. The Post-it® reminder idea will make you mindful throughout, allowing you to start correcting even the most difficult problems. Imagine finally moving past some of the stumbling blocks. You’re one, clear, well-placed reminder away!