The Secret to Successful Presentations

The nature of nerves

Several years ago, a survey was conducted to identify the top 10 public fears. What came in at number one? Public speaking! Apparently, the scariest thing we can do in our lives is stand in front of people and speak. What is the secret to successful presentations?

The Secret to Successful Presentations

Why the fear factor?

Public speaking is often considered an umbrella fear (no, umbrellas were not on the list!), i.e., many different fears bundled together under one heading. We tend to focus on the many things that could go wrong when presenting:

  • our mouths will dry up,
  • our minds will go blank,
  • we will fall over,
  • we will burst into tears,
  • they’ll laugh at us or throw things,
  • we will embarrass ourselves and colleagues in the audience.

A wise man once said: the human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment we are born and doesn’t stop until we stand up to speak in public. Basically, we imagine the worst-case scenario and carry that with us into the presentation!

The physical effects

As soon as we perceive a threat and become nervous, we switch on that primitive survival instinct, fight or flight. Our brain releases 2 stimulants into our bloodstream, adrenaline and cortisol, which bring about physical changes within us.

Our heart rate increases – the heart is now working overtime, pumping blood and oxygen to the parts of us which need it most to keep us alive. Ultimately it just wants us to be physically strong enough to deal with the threat – to either fight back, or to run away (take flight).

Our body temperature rises – who doesn’t get sweaty when they are nervous? We also get the rush of blood to the head – this explains why a lot of people’s faces turn red when they are either angry or embarrassed.

The main message here is that the fight or flight instinct gives us a colossal amount of nervous energy – use it! With practice, this energy becomes our ally when presenting, not our enemy! If we send our nervous energy outwards towards the audience, it manifests itself as positive energy, enthusiasm, and vitality. It really works!

So, what’s the big secret?

How do we become more confident presenters? Is it acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga, or hypnotherapy? Perhaps – but the answer is much simpler: practice. Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more!

These 4 key tips will also ensure productive presentations:

  1. Collaborate on the presentation
  2. Know the customer really well
  3. Tell the story with real people
  4. Visualize Data

The more we repeat any skill or behaviour, the more it becomes embedded and the more efficient we become. Whenever opportunities to present arise, grab them with both hands. Not an easy answer but the most effective one!


What, then, is the secret to successful presentations? If we get nervous before a presentation, that’s good! It means we’re human and not perfect presenting robots. With practice, we can harness the nervous energy and use it to be an enthusiastic and engaging presenter. Remember, Mark Twain once said this: “There are 2 kinds of public speaker. Those that are nervous, and those that are liars.”

How to Train the Trainer

In this post we’ll look at the essentials for any Train the Trainer course or programme. What should be included, how and why…

How to Train the Trainer
How to Train the Trainer
Why bother with a Train the Trainer?

Many people think that anybody can be a Trainer, it’s just a matter of getting up there and doing it. Of course, that’s not the case. It’s a profession, just like any other, and requires a specific set of skills, knowledge and behaviours that aren’t within reach of just anybody.

It’s well accepted that providing on-going development to employees is part of the path towards higher engagement.

We also know that the higher the levels of engagement, in an organisation, the more productive employees are. If they’re more productive then they are helping the organisation to be more profitable. Wins everywhere….

It’s not a gigantic leap to suggest that the better the Trainers are that manage employee development (either internal or outsourced), the quicker the path to success for all and with a much greater quality to boot.

So, what should be included in a TRAIN THE TRAINER COURSE?

The first thing you should do is make sure you’ve got the right people on the Train the Trainer course. As we’ve already said, not everybody has what it takes to support the development of others in an engaging, effective way.

Some of the great subject matter experts in their respective fields don’t have what it takes to transfer their expertise to others. We can teach them, they’ll improve, but if it’s not who they are, it’s not who they are.

Once we’ve got our group of; passionate, articulate, energetic, inspiring, knowledgeable, challenging, courageous, flexible, empathetic, creative, patient enablers of learning on the Train the Trainer we need to give them some content to get their teeth into.

A quick internet search will provide many examples of this and all should include:
  • Clearly identifying the requirements of the role of the Trainer.
  • Helping delegates to understand the full learning cycle and the benefits of employee development.
  • Recognise and overcome the barriers to effective learning at work.
  • Help delegates to understand the different ways people learn and how to accommodate these in a group situation.
  • Plan and deliver effective training using appropriate training materials and methodologies.
  • Show delegates how to use accelerated learning approaches that encourage learning retention.
  • Provide opportunities to build confidence by practising the delivery of effective structured training sessions.
  • How to make the technology work for you and not against you.
  • Share tips and techniques for overcoming difficult situations (or people) which can occur during training sessions.
  • Show how to evaluate the effectiveness of any training against predetermined objectives.
Of course, the above list just covers the essentials. All the best Trainers practice what they preach and continue to develop themselves long after they’ve attended their first ‘Train the Trainer’.

Other courses can give them more advanced techniques that they can keep in their metaphorical toolkits.

Practice won’t ever make perfect, but it will move them closer and they will always have the essential delegate feedback which gives a customer perspective on how well those particular needs are being met.