Lights, camera, action!

By Katja van Koten

At university I used to give around three or four presentations a year. I always wanted to give my presentations at the start of the semester, before everyone else. Not because I was so brave – I was just trying to outsmart my fellow students. You see I thought if I speak first than they can’t compare me yet with the other speakers. I don’t have to feel unsure about them being better. And, because I’m first, they might think I’m brave to do so and they won’t be that critical. Clever, isn’t it?

Well not really, for a start it’s negative approach. I’m not good enough. Sometimes I wish that I had filmed these presentations, because I’m sure now that it wasn’t so bad then. It took me nearly ten years before I had the courage to ask someone to film me during a presentation. I must admit I could only watch the video after two weeks or so, with the sound off! I couldn’t stand my own voice!

So why did I do it? I did it because I wanted to improve. And I wanted a different perspective. I highly value the feedback I get from my audience, and I wanted more. I wanted to see what the audience was seeing and hearing. I wanted to understand why certain things I said appealed to the audience – and other things didn’t.

One of the beautiful aspects of modern technology is that nearly everyone carries a camera these days. It’s so easy to ask someone to film you when you’re presenting. And once you’re over your first initial resistance and see more of your presentations you will note the differences, the changes, and your progress as speaker.

Nowadays, I’m not bothered at all when my presentations are filmed. It has learnt me so much about how I’m perceived when I present. No need for clever tricks anymore.

So are you ready? Lights, camera, action!

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