Need better communication skills? Use your doubts to craft better presentations!

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Imagine the following scenario: you have been recently hired by a company and your new boss invites you to his birthday party in his house along with the rest of the team. Then you wonder “what should I get him?” As soon as you leave the office, you head to the closest mall and start looking for the perfect present to make a good impression.

After looking for hours for the perfect gift and walking into every single store you found in the mall, you finally get him the best present you could think of. You get home with the beautifully wrapped present and then you start wondering “What if he doesn’t like it?”, “What if he already has one?”, or worse “What if someone else gives him the same present?”.

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We’ve all been in a similar situation before. Any creative process (like coming up with the best sales strategy, creating a beautiful web design, etc.) involves the same feeling. That’s why the worst moment in any creative process is completion. When you finish your work this is the moment when your creative drive, your creative energy stops propelling you.

New forces come into play. The creative right brain has less energy and the analytical left brain is free to… well – honestly – get in the way.

work that is finished, yet not shipped to an audience is a liability for the left brain. There is no proof that it can have legs, there is no demonstration of its validity. For how much the creative brain may be happy about the product, the left brain requires hard data: number of views, amount of sales in dollars, number of retweets. The analytical brain wants facts, figures, feedback and will not settle until it gets some.

In emotional terms this translates in doubts: you start to doubt the validity of your whole presentation, because it has yet to meet its audience. You feel that, without the validation of real world feedback, what you have done is worthless.

Doubt is a great and powerful creative tool: it allows you to go back to editing your presentation with greater attention and focus on your goal.

But the lack of validation can be dangerous as it puts you in the position of devaluing the work you have done.

As a skillful presenter and professional you should use your doubts but not get overwhelmed by them.

How do you check your fuel and make sure that your doubts are founded?

You can always get early feedback. But getting feedback in a vacuum can be an issue… So you need to create the right conditions so that your test audience can better help you refine your presentation.

You see, they are not your target audience. They are not in an auditorium or a meeting room, but in your kitchen or your cubicle. They are not surrounded by their peers but have only you in front. Give them some pointers about the setting of your presentation before you start your best rehearsal.

Another opportunity to get feedback is sharing some bits of your presentation on social media. Create a teaser deck made of 3 or 4 slides. Feature a sample of your content in those slides, or even just underline the questions that you will answer in your talk.

The fact is… I know that the only real feedback is the one that comes from the market, the only way I can value my output is when it is in front of a real live audience.

In any case, it comes a moment when you have to stop believing your doubts. You must save the final version of your presentation, seal the sequence of your slides and concentrate on rehearsing.

24 hours before your presentation, stop listening to your doubts and start believing that you did your absolute best.

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