Motivate People to Perform at Their Best with Business Presentations Training

Our Presentations Alive!™ programme doesn’t just improve people’s business presentation skills. Within Presentations Alive! there’s a hidden second programme.

When we designed Presentations Alive!, we did so knowing that the most important skills are also the most difficult to teach – skills like confidence and self-worth. So, we stealthily included these elements into an innocent-sounding programme, whose objective is to teach the fundamentals of professional business presentations.

If we were to run a programme on “How To Be Confident”, we might as well attach a neon sign on every participant’s forehead that says, “You’re not a confident person”. But that’s not something that we want to do, ever. Instead, we embedded confidence-building elements into a (seemingly normal) business presentations programme that everyone should attend at least once in their professional careers. 

Confidence and self-worth are the unspoken outcomes that Marianne Vincent, the Director of Training Quality at People Potential envisioned for Presentations Alive! when it was designed. They’re in the hidden second programme within Presentations Alive!. But don’t just take it from us, take it from Randy.

Randy works in one of the big 4 accounting firms. He was, what could be called, a ‘disengaged participant’. When tasked to give a baseline presentation (an initial presentation to gauge ability), he was, to put it mildly, quite ‘out of it’. He lacked the motivation to be in training and it quickly became apparent that he was also lacking in skill. Instead of presenting in a logical A>B>C manner, he was all over the place.

Randy had a lot of hesitation. Because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to say and which path he was going down – he spoke with copious fillers like, ‘umm’ and ‘err’. Despite his hesitation, Randy stuck around for the rest of the training. So we showed him how to structure his presentation. We taught him the non-verbal skills he needed to deliver his presentation – such as eye contact and posture. As he practised, Randy could see how much he had improved. Then midway through our training, something clicked. 

Have you ever seen someone go ‘click’ in front of your eyes and transform from unmotivated to motivated? It’s quite spectacular. Randy’s posture changed, his confidence soared, and his voice brimmed with confidence. And if you were the person responsible for their transformation, it becomes a life-changing event for you too.

Midway through training, something clicked.

Then there was Andrea. She was as timid as they came. Soft-spoken to a fault, everyone else had to turn up their volume to hear what she was trying to say. Andrea was high-pitched too. ‘Mousey’ would be an apt description of how she sounded, and probably, how she felt. During training we found out that she also had a fear of flying – she had never flown on a plane and was restricted to travelling to nearby destinations that are accessible by train or bus. 

Could her ‘mousey’ demeanour and fear of flying be related?

Before the end of the second day of Presentations Alive!, she surprised everyone when she made improvements that were so striking that her progress was not just a small leap, she was teleported to a whole new level. She looked directly into the camera, and her body language and posture exuded confidence. She enjoyed the practice sessions, and then a miracle happened. 

“I want to fly to Singapore,” proclaimed the woman who was once too afraid to step foot in a plane. Her life, moving forward from that day, will no doubt be vastly different from what it had always been. All it took was a simple nudge from a little programme that taught her how to present with confidence. With this newfound confidence, imagine what she’ll go on to achieve in her workplace and in life. 

How We Build Confidence

Question is, what do we do at the Presentations Alive! programme to build confidence and self-worth? And what do our trainers do to motivate people to perform at their best? Here’s what we do:

1) We let them fail

All of our programmes, Presentations Alive! included, creates multiple opportunities to stretch participants to their limits. And along with doing new things, comes new opportunities to fumble, to mess up, and to say and do the wrong things – in other words, to fail. Our programmes create multiple opportunities for failure because the process of growth begins when we habitually try the unknown, push through uncertainty, and get constant feedback for improvement. And when this process happens in a safe environment – demonstrated by a patient and encouraging trainer, and surrounded by cheering colleagues – participants shed their fear of speaking. Presentations Alive! is designed with learning activities that are 20% theory and 80% practice – precisely because we embed opportunities for failure into the programme. 

Let them fail

2) We build skills through layering

Often, people are amazed at how organised they sound at the end of the first day of Presentations Alive! It dawned on them that they could speak in an organised, effective way all this time. They just needed some coaching to get them there. By the end of the second day, after getting numerous opportunities to practice, they’re surprised at how much more they’ve improved. We arrive at this level of skill advancement through layering.

With Presentations Alive!, our first layer starts with helping our participants to determine who their audience is. Because, the process of understanding their audience is the key to creating a logical and emotional connection with their audience when they present. Once our participants understand who they’re speaking to, we move on to the second layer – demonstrating structure – how to organise their thoughts into a cohesive and easily understood presentation (that’s understood by their chosen audience). Then, in the third layer that builds on the first two, our participants put their thoughts onto paper (or in this case, onto a virtual Miro board) with their audience and a structure in mind. When the learning and activities are layered, clarity of thought emerges and their confidence grows. 

By layering our participant’s learning, we provide a step-by-step stairway to reach a new level of competency. 

3) We have high expectations

Belief is powerful and can transfer from trainer to participant. Studies* have shown that students can be positively (or negatively) affected by teacher expectations. The subtle supportive encouragement, the nudge to try something uncomfortable, or even a hard kick, akin to what a mother bird gives to her juvenile offspring in an attempt to kickstart flight – whether gentle or sudden, they all serve as a way to guide our training participants to new levels of skill and ability. Expectations are often self-fulfilling and knowing this, our trainers hold high ambitions for our participants. 

Throughout Randy’s and Andrea’s journey, my expectation as a trainer is that they can give structured presentations that look great and tell an engaging story that will advance a worthwhile objective. And I guided and supported them while they made that leap into the unknown. 

If you’d like to learn more about how our programme design can help you to build a more confident team, email [email protected]. We’re also happy to introduce our trainers to you, so that you can get to know them in person. 

Hi, I’m Regina Morris, a delivery skills specialist at People Potential and a master NLP practitioner.

“Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in his book The Little Prince, wrote: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I try very hard to see with my heart. But it used to be a bad thing. The heart was seen as purely emotional and did not belong in the boardroom. Yet it’s with the heart that we decide on integrity and deliver with passion. These are the two qualities that I bring to all my training. By seeing with my heart, I’m patient with my participants and I make learning fun. And my heart believes without a doubt, that all my participants have it in themselves to grow and improve. 

* A decade of teacher expectations research 2008–2018: Historical foundations, new developments, and future pathways: