Adversity is always a learning opportunity, so they say. In which case the recent blast of icy weather gave us plenty of chances to absorb some valuable lessons.
Comparisons also help us understand where we stand in relation to others. As a bid coach I also can’t help reflecting on parallels between how snowstorms affect the UK compared to other countries, and the performance of well and poorly prepared teams facing the challenges of a bid interview or behavioural assessment.
Let’s use Denmark as a comparison. Here they routinely deal with snowfall and temperatures on this level without loss of life, travel chaos, interruption to vital services and legions of stranded motorists. There are five key areas where their approach differs from the UK. These factors are highly relevant to the tender process.
To misquote a line from the Monty Python film ‘A Life of Brian’ “What have consultants and external resource providers ever done for us?”
I’ll answer that question with a story. Imagine you’ve been shortlisted to attend an interview by an important prospect. Time to bring your ‘A’ game. So you assemble a strong team. They all have experience of interviews, presentations, and question and answer sessions. They’ve had success in the past.
Just to make sure, you put up one of your most senior and experienced directors to demonstrate how important the contract is to you. They have the ‘clout’ and credibility to make an impression and talk about the strategic importance of the client and the contract.
Most inexperienced presenters feel uneasy in front of an audience - even a small one. We’re not used to being the centre of everyone’s attention. In reality, few of us feel comfortable with it. If we don’t get this anxiety under control we get stressed and highly self conscious.
Self consciousness is a sense that everyone is judging us: how we look, how we sound, how we behave. A natural reaction to a heightened state of self consciousness is to withdraw into ourselves.
How does this manifest itself? Making our frame smaller, keeping arms pinned into place, talking at our notes rather than to the audience and skipping over our words as quickly as possible.
These are all traits of the self conscious. In extreme cases eye contact goes, pauses are non existent and the voice becomes a flat monotone mumble devoid of colour.
Self consciousness is an obstacle that has to be overcome on your first steps to you becoming a competent, and hopefully inspiring, presenter.
Self conscious is where most of us start. The sooner we get over it, the sooner we can start becoming the type of presenter we’d like to be.
Once you realise that people aren’t there to judge the way you look or even the way you act you can start to move on. They are less interested in you and more interested in what you have to tell them.
Your goal as a presenter is self awareness, and through that, self confidence.
Without becoming a self absorbed narcissist, when you are a self aware presenter you are in control of how you use your voice, your gestures and your eye contact. You are conscious of the effect all this is having on your audience.
You have the insight to modify your approach or possibly repeat yourself if you perceive that a key message didn’t get through.
Part of the psychological toolkit is also self acceptance. It’s about understanding who you are, including your strengths and limitations. Becoming an effective presenter often means having the confidence to be you (with a few embellishments) rather than trying to copy somebody else’s presenting style.
How do you get from self conscious to self aware? You won’t get there without without testing yourself.
You have to put yourself in the situation, try different things and discover what works. Get feedback, both verbal and nonverbal. And ideally do all this in a supportive environment where the stakes are not too high. Which is more or less what I do on my presentation skills coaching sessions (not sure sessions is the best word).
If you would like you or your team to become confident, self aware presenters, get in touch and we’ll start the journey.
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.