“Just be yourself” is the ultimate in advice when it comes to presenting.
What happens when you know you need your message to be heard, but your authentic self is to be introverted and softly spoken?
What if you are presenting on a music station, and you are a massive sports fan?
What if you are presenting to the board? Do they really want to know that you struggled to find a clean pair of pants this morning?
Being advised to be authentic can open a can of worms, but the desire from audiences for “real people” is not going away. The popularity of TV shows like Love Island and Big Brother show this. The rise of the internet broadcaster (You Tubers / Influencers) is rooted in the sort of authenticity that is lost in the linear broadcasting of Radio or TV.
There are things I regularly talk to my clients about with how to deal this…
1) Be clear on “you”
During your show/presentation prep, write down the 5-10 things you know to be true about you. These are things you love, things you hate, things you are passionate about. These are the things that make you you, and make you human, and they can inform and appear in your content. You can also ask yourself “what are the things I know to be true about the topic I am presenting about?”
Example: I am a massive learner, and I love stories, so my presentations always include something I have learned from an experience, or from someone else.
2) Be clear on who you are speaking to
Engaging an audience is as much about understanding them as it is about understanding you. I know it’s not easy to read people’s minds but you can make a few assumptions. They are of course human (refer to point one). But if it is the board you are speaking to the board, you will have to work out what it is they will be expecting and align yourself with that.
3) Don’t Shoe Horn
Being authentic means being authentic. If you are trying to be authentic for authentic’s sake you won’t get the response that you desire from the audience. Make sure your content, and your stories, fit with what you are talking about. If you are doing a formal presentation, like reading the news, or presenting to the board, there will be opportunities for some personality to come out.
There is a growing trend to admit your imperfections at the moment, it’s a really effective way to engage the audience, and “be authentic”. See the popularity of online sites like The Midult. Self-deprecation, and admissions of your flaws is a guaranteed way to connect with your audience.
But this can be confused with what it is to be authentic, and sometimes too much self deprecation sounds insincere and needy. If you are on stage, screen or on air, you still need to hold your authority.
Positive reflection, observation and aspiration are all still engaging factors. For example, if I am in my true authentic space, there are parts of me that are obsessed with podcasts, self development, CrossFit and I am a bit of a show off. If I was worried about imperfections only, I wouldn’t share some of the more positive, enthusiastic elements of myself. And nothing is more engaging than enthusiasm.
5) Don’t get Stuck In Detail
The thing about authenticity in presentations is that you often don’t have enough time to tell the full story as it happened, with the nuances that went with it. Also getting lost in detail, can lose your audience.
I would love to tell you in detail about the time that I lost a friend’s kid (I did) but I only have a few minutes to do so. So when I tell the story I pull out what I call “the story beats”. These are the most important parts of the story. The bits I remember most: the hideous call to her parents to tell them she’d vanished, the moment we found her, the moment I turned around and she wasn’t there, the fact we were in a huge park, and that the minutes felt like hours. When those beats are put in the right order, I have definitely turned a long story short, and I can add the detail where I need to.
Authentic presenting is about taking all the parts of you and working out which ones will work with the audience you are talking to and the environment you are working in. It is not about baring your soul to everyone, in depth.
Get your own daily positive mantras from me for free on Amazon Echo.
Self-Care comes in lots of different forms, but the one thing I work on all the time is monitoring the voice in my head. Everyone has a good voice and a bad voice. The bad voice is the one that tells you you aren’t a good enough presenter, or that you don’t deserve to be in the studio, or that that mean tweet from a listener was right. This is the voice that needs to be kept in check. So, I have devised some daily audio for you (for free) to give you some positive strategies to build your self-care. It’s called “Everyday Positivity” and you can find it on Amazon Echo.
In case you have no idea what I am on about! The Alexa Flash Briefing is a clever bit of smart speaker technology on the Amazon Echo Dot. You can create your own mini audio programme, by selecting different ‘Flashes’ to build your own daily briefing. This can comprise of news and comedy, to nuggets of marketing advice and of course, an daily injection of positivity. There’s thousands of content options to choose from.
Why am I doing this?
I always want to be sure that I am trying out the latest listening technology so I can share my experiences with you, and then in turn you can feel that you have an edge. Over the next few weeks I will share how I go about making this piece of audio, and ways that you can add it to your repertoire. We’re only seeing the beginning of what this technology can do for the radio and audio industry – it’s a very exciting time for us!
Everyday Positivity everywhere?
If you haven’t got an Amazon Echo, do not despair! I’m exploring ways to get this slice of daily positivity onto other platforms, so watch (or listen!) to this space. Also, do keep an eye on my Instagram for some fancy audio clips from Everyday Positivity and other stuff that I’m up to, that I’m sure you’ll love – follow me here.
Spread the positivity
I’ve also created a facebook group, where you discuss the ideas I’ve raised in Everyday Positivity and share your own motivational wisdom. Join the group here.
If you do find it on your Echo and love your daily dose of positivity – please could you pop a review here for me? ReviewEverydayPositivity.com.This is the best way I can get this to even more people.
I can’t wait to hear what you think or even how you are exploring this latest technology. Drop me a line and I’d love to hear all about it.
Let’s be clear straight up: when you put yourself out there (on stage, on air, on screen), you are putting yourself in a position to serve others and to do that you have to be in a good place mentally and emotionally.
If you then start thinking about how speaking in public isn’t refined to the stage, it occurs in meetings or pitches or networking, you can start to understand why looking after yourself will affect your performance every day.
Self Care is vital to ensure you nail it (and it feels good too). Here are 5 things I prescribe.
1) Congratulate yourself 3 times every morning
How you talk to yourself is how you will behave. If you tell yourself that the crowd will hate you, you will end up uncomfortable on stage and behave in a way that the crowd end up dispondant and then it’s not a big distance for you to convince yourself you were right: they hate you.
So every morning as your feet hit the floor tell yourself 3 things you’re proud of or grateful for make this a habit.
2) A bag of spinach
You are what you eat. I know it’s a cliche, and I am the first to admit I over eat and my relationship with sugar is somewhere between complicated and destructive BUT….
When you eat well, you perform well. Sugar has a tendency to make you sleepy and if you are sluggish on stage your audience will feel it too.
I eat a lot better than I used to and one of the things that has improved my diet massively is a handy bag of spinach.
If I am in a rush or out for a meal I will add a handful of spinach to my plate. It means I know I am getting the right amount of good food in my system and I can stay on the go too.
Find your “bag of spinach” option and feel yourself get better!
3) Funtake (Fun Intake)
I read so many things that say “you can’t succeed if you’re watching loads of TV. Here’s the thing: you will succeed if you manage your feel good.
During the last bout of depression my counsellor told me to do something I loved every day. And I’m not the only one. Bryony Gordon talks about the same thing in her book “Mad Girl”, and a friend of mine was prescribed the same thing.
Its basically the act of in-taking joy : Funtake.
Do something that brings you joy every day. For me this is a box-set on Netflix, or a course on Udemy or a podcast.
4) Make your day work for you
Turns out I am an early riser. Who knew? All those years I convinced myself I was a night owl and then I had babies and I am a lark after all.
Discovering I am a morning person means I get rewarded with seeing things like this majestic horse at the top of this post, when I’m on holiday
I’ve also discovered my best work is done in the morning. But if I book a client session in in the afternoon I really slump ( see point 2 – this could also be overeating carbs at lunch!)
Putting hard edges in your day means saving the best time of day for your most important work. Allow yourself to try things and work out what time of day is best for you – then plan around it.
5) Make your night work for you
The science shows that you should be getting 7 hour of sleep a night minimum. Anything under that means you are not functioning at your full capacity. And the scary this g is that you don’t know that you aren’t – you think you:re fine!
Now shift work, and heavy work loads, sometimes make this 7 hours impossible. I would still suggest you monitor it, and move as best you can towards it. Try going to bed 10 minutes earlier rather than trying to sleep later.
The problem with Self Care & building habits is that it’s really easy to get in to the “shoulds” of life. “I should be getting 7 hours of sleep…” can be as counter productive for some people as it is productive for others.
So the commitment has to be “do it one step at a time”. Form one habit (small) then add the next when you’re ready.
Take all of you, with your flaws, and just try to be better today than you were yesterday. A house is not built with one brick…
Hi, my name’s Kate Cocker, and I’m the Presenter Coach, and I have been working with radio presenters now for nearly 20 years, whether that be at grassroots, are at national, top of the game level.
I’ve worked with loads of presenters across that range, and the one thing that comes up all of the time, no matter whether you are at the top of your game or just starting out, is how to deal with criticism, because you know what? The minute that you put your head above the parapet, someone somewhere is going to think that it’s okay to text you at the studio, or to tweet you, or to put a Facebook comment, or something like that saying something like, “You’re a buffoon.”
And I’ve seen loads of radio presenters deal with this in loads of different ways.
Some radio presenters like to just ignore the text console in the studio, so they completely ignore it, and they let their producers give them the texts. Now, in some cases, that’s not possible because, in some cases, you don’t have a producer, so you kind of have to see the interaction coming into the studio. And it’s almost impossible to ignore it.
The other thing I hear a lot is presenters will go to their producers, or to their bosses, or people in the studio and they’ll go, this has happened, isn’t it awful? And the reaction is, oh, just ignore it! Which is really difficult, because it’s coming directly at you. It’s really hard to just ignore it.
But the one thing I would say is to try not to react with it.
I worked with one presenter who made a mistake on air, and it got misconstrued, and whipped up, and on Twitter, and it was so hard for him to not reply to those arguments and the things that people were saying about him on Twitter, which weren’t even true, but he just had to ignore it, because if he’d engaged, it would’ve just made it worse, and you can’t control the tone of voice that people are reading what you have written.
So, try not to engage with it.
However, I have heard of presenters, and I’ve worked with presenters who have called people back who texted them, and that has had varying degrees of success for them. But again, it’s not about shaming these people, so don’t put that call on air. Just maybe have a conversation with them and say, did you know that I got that? And most of the time their reaction is, oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, I didn’t think you’d see it.
Now, the one way that I have found that a lot of the presenters that I work with do really like, there are two ways to look at this, and both of them were pointed out to me by reading the work of Brene Brown, who is a vulnerability expert, shaming expert. Academically, she’s brilliant, and I really urge you to read her work. But there are two things that she says.
One is that, most of the time, judgement comes from a place of insecurity. In fact, it’s almost formulaic. The things that you judge people on are usually the things that you feel the most insecure about. So, I can pretty much guarantee to you that the text that’s come into the studio that says, “You’re a buffoon!” is from someone who is working really hard to not be a buffoon all the time. And you think about it now, the times that you have judged, you’re probably judging people on the things that you’re working really hard, or maybe you don’t really like about yourself.
So let’s apply some compassion, let’s apply some generosity to the way that those texts are received, and if someone is saying to you, “You’re a buffoon,” they’re probably not in a great place, whether they know that or not.
The second thing that Brene Brown drew to my attention was a quote by Theodore Roosevelt, which I think you’ll see it get passed around a lot, but it’s brilliant, so I’m going to read it to you now.
“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could’ve done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, and sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who, at the best, in the end, will triumph by achievement, and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So what he’s saying is that you have taken a risk. You have put your head about the parapet. And if anyone is going to give you criticism, it needs to be from someone, and it needs to be feedback, and it needs to be constructive, from someone that you trust who is in the arena with you, whether that be a coach, whether that be your boss in a coaching environment, or whether that be from another presenter who has asked you if they can offer you some feedback.
Criticism is something that you can allow to roll off your back if it’s coming from a place where they are not doing the work that you’re doing, and they are not sat in that arena with you.
You deserve to be taking risks and only hearing criticism from people who are taking those risks with you, like you.
And I hope, and I’ve used this tonnes of times now, that actually what it does is it makes it really simple for the presenters that I work with, because they just go, right, I don’t need to listen to that anymore. Am I satisfying my customers’ needs? Yes, I am. Are they saying mean things about me? Well, that one is, and that’s okay, because that’s the only one that is in today, and you know what, they may be in a bad place, so I’m just going to ignore it, for want of a better way of putting it.
So, I really hope that those two things really help you with how you deal with criticism, and just allow it to roll off your back, because actually, you’re taking a risk, you’re putting yourself out there, and that takes a lot of courage, so you should be proud of yourself for that in the first place.
For more tips about radio presenting, or whether you want to be a better radio presenter, head over to my webpage at thepresentercoach.co.uk/radio, and there you can download the first module of my Better Presenter course, completely free.
So as a bit of background for you: I am hugely passionate about helping people to be more assertive and to tell their stories so that they can advance their business, career or just improve their life. I set up The Presenter Coach in 2016, after leaving a full time job (I burnt out). Having had experience working freelance, and running a similar business with a good friend previously, I knew I wanted to go alone. My family life required me to be able to choose what I did, and when I did it – as did my mental health!
There are 2 things that help you build your business or career:
Be good at what you do
Tell people about it
I specialise in helping people with the second part (unless you are a radio or tv presenter in which case I help you with both parts). Most people reach a point in their business growth or career where they have to stand in front of people and speak. Whether that be pitching, speaking at conferences or just getting better at interviews.
My aim with The Presenter Coach was that I wanted people to feel like they were being heard. Even today, I want people to see or hear you speak in public (on stage, on air, on screen) and think: “I want to work with you”.
The current structure of my work looks like this:
I coach a lot of 1-2-1 clients: radio & tv presenters, & business owners looking to get better at speaking online and on stage. I run training courses in public speaking, I run networking and storytelling workshops, and I have created an online radio presenter course.
How do you run Your Biz Your Way?
Analogy time: When I go climbing I like to climb without a harness. I love the freedom, the rush, the risk, and you’ll find me up as high as my strength will take me (plus a bit more – I like a challenge)
The minute I have a harness on the terror sets in. I feel restrained and that something terrible is going to happen. I won’t feel confident climbing so high, and I also have to rely on the person below to catch me if I fall.
Running my own business is just like climbing harness-free. I’m not restricted by convention (although I like to learn from it). I experiment, I learn from my mistakes, and I answer to my clients – no one else.
I ensure that I play to my strengths and passions. I value helping people, personal growth and my family. My strengths are being organised, enthusiasm, coaching, learning, creativity and constructing content. I enjoy serving clients, and constantly finding new ways to improve their experience.
What do you do differently in your work that illustrates running Your Biz Your Way?
Why did you make up your mind to do it like that?
I made up my mind to ensure that my work and life were equally fulfilling. I don’t think of organising my time to show “work/life balance” I think of all of it as “life”. This means I use traditionally “work skills” in family life: my kids are constantly coached! Equally I value “life skills” in my work: if I am not feeling enjoyment or challenged from something I scrap it.
When I worked in my full time work, I found that I never had time to “sharpen my tools”. I love learning, and I find that everything I learn pumps it’s way back in to the service I provide and in turn my profit. So I now mark time in my week for learning. I read, do online courses, listen to podcasts – all in the bid that the next coaching session with my next client will be better for it.
I also have a rule: if I get asked to do something that terrifies me, I say yes.
How do you go against the grain or against the received wisdom in ways which make you happier in yourself, more productive and more abundant in your biz?
I am regularly looking for unique ways of doing things. My public speaking course is spread over 6 weekly sessions, rather than being delivered in one day. It is designed to highlight the need for rehearsal.
I used to think that to be successful I had to work every minute available, and I would sacrifice my health for it. This was a received wisdom, from watching leaders email at 11 at night, or the online business world revealing being up till the early hours of the morning. There is a time for working in this way, but over a period of time it always ends in one way: burn out. As a result I now make time for my fitness and sleep.
There is one thing I have done though, that people seem to identify as controversial:
When I was in my 20s I read an article about motherhood in different decades. The woman that had become a mother in her 40s said that “rather than get someone else to look after your kids, get someone to do the jobs that mean you have the time to be with your kids”.
Knowing that time with my family fulfils me the mos, I took heed of that article. I now employ someone who comes to my house 4 evenings a week to do the laundry, load the dishwasher, and set the house back to normal. We have quality family time as a result and I am more productive in my business.
I love climbing this business world without the harness. I love taking strategic steps, seeing if they work and then manoeuvring to be better. Finding my support network has been vital and finding one that works for me, revolutionary. Mostly, being the best mum I can be is at the centre of everything I do: giving love, being supportive and being a role model for them. This means making sure I am fulfilled and healthy is priority number 1. My biz my way is the way that I can achieve this.