Sunday, November 22, 2009

Personality shaping your presentation skills

Day 76 - Stage Fright
Image by G.I. Folk via Flickr
I spent the better part of my life with little care for how others perceived me. Truth be told, I still feel that way. But I understand that the world makes snap judgments based on initial impressions. I'm the only one responsible for that impression, which gives me the capability of influencing those decisions. In some settings, I want you to think of me as sharp witted. In some, sarcastic. And yes, in some helpful and knowledgeable. Spend enough time with me and you'll come to realize that those -- and many more -- traits make up... me.

Let's call this effort on my part "perception shaping" for lack of a better term. It's not about hiding less-desirable traits from public view. It's not about damage control when one aspect of your personality overrides the rest and everyone who meets you thinks your an asshole. You probably are an asshole, and you need to stop being an asshole. Personalty shaping won't help that.

Personality shaping is no different than my choosing a shirt to wear for a business meeting. The "Kiss Alive II" concert tee or the pressed shirt with french cuffs? Both are in my wardrobe and both adequately represent a facet of my larger personality. The choice is pretty clear.

(A quick side note to the detractors -- this isn't license to invent or suppress. This isn't about fooling anyone or being untrue to yourself. I'm not suggesting you try adopt an attitude, stance or approach that is antithetical to your core values, complex as those may be. I'm talking about picking which card you lead with. The rest will play out during the game.)

Personality shaping your presentation skills
Justin Dixon has a great post called Why Presentation Matters and How to Make it Work. It's a great primer for those of you who hate giving presentations or feel inadequate when communicating your ideas to other people. I often see people -- smart and talented people -- fall apart on stage or quickly lose control of a conversation they are leading. Much of it is an issue of confidence, though it can be -- and often is -- more complex than that.

Presentation matters. First impressions are lasting impressions. I don't care much for the impressions I give people when I'm walking around the mall, but I care deeply for the impression I leave people with when I'm presenting information to them. I have some control over that, which means I have some control over the presentation at large. And that leads to confidence. One step at a time.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tyler Hurst, Tyler Hurst. Tyler Hurst said: RT @tweetmeme Personality shaping your presentation skills | Fun Anymore [...]

  2. Reluctantly, I concur. So what's your #1 concern, physical appearance or attitude?

  3. Maybe a combination of both... and more? You can look the part, but if you can't hold my attention for more than five minutes, that's not good. Then again, you can I may not give you a chance to prove how smart you are if you're wearing a "do you wanna bone?" t-shirt. Attitude is good, confidence is better. And I think for many people, takes more than a single attribute to develop confidence. It's a package deal.

  4. True, but if you can own the room in jeans and a polo shirt, do you do it? It's a tie for everything?

  5. Oh, hell no. I'm no fan of ties at all, though I've been known to wear them on more than one occasion. But you can't own every room with jeans and a polo. Clothes don't make the man, and a wise man wears clothes that fit him *and* the occasion.

    Not that the focus should be on attire, mind you. Hell, look how I dress.

  6. Over and over again, it seems. And that's what I love about you, Derek. You're the exception to every rule!

  7. Justin Dixon- AlittleBetter.netNovember 23, 2009 at 12:19 AM

    Thank you for the mention. ^_^

    I would say more that dramatic impressions stick with us. The mind likes to gravitate to extremes. The thing is that first impressions usually are the most dramatic to our mind, because its the point where we first meet. But if you find that you've bungled a first impression there is still a way around it. You'll just have to be more extremely positive than the impression you gave at first.


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