Becoming a Master Presenter
By Dean Crisp
October 13, 2020
Leadership is influence. Pure and simple. John Maxwell says this, I say this. No matter who you are, if you are a leader at any level, you know that one’s ability to influence is critical. One of the biggest ways in which any leader “influences” others is their ability to present information in an effective and convincing way. There is much more that goes into presenting and I will discuss that briefly in this blog post, but since my why is to help instruct others through inspiration and information, I decided to create a master presenter class about this time last year with the primary goal to help my students become the best version of themselves as presenters. Because leadership is influence and influence comes from one’s ability to connect and communicate, this class seemed like a natural evolution of our LHLN offerings.
The first master presenter class was taught in February of this year and, honestly, I didn’t know how it would be received. We had some relatively veteran instructors and leaders in that first class who came to the class naturally skeptical and wondering what in the world they could possibly learn but trusting that if anyone had new ideas in this area, it was me. What an honor to have that kind of faith and pressure to prove something to one’s peers. Well, I’m happy to say that the class was successful beyond our wildest dreams! In fact, it was so successful, that since then, we’ve taught the class about 6 times with 6 already scheduled for 2021.
So, what do I think it takes to become a Master Presenter? Well, in the class, I tell students that it takes the ability to recognize where one is at in their journey to become a master presenter and to take the steps possible to become the best version of themselves. First and foremost, we teach that you as the individual has to decide what type of presenter do you want to be? While there is so much to talk about in this class, it would be too long to cover all of the class in one blog post. So we will stay focused on my three levels of a presenter and what I believe are the three components of presenting: connection, style, and material.
Level I Presenters: Almost all leaders begin at Level 1 Presenter which I describe as unskilled amateurs. Depending on your personality and years in a profession, you can present material and may do it relatively well, but haven’t had enough concentrated practice to develop into a Level II presenter. At the level 1, you are often overly focused on your material and may be somewhat comfortable developing your style of presenting, but fail to make the connection with your audience. In fact, you don’t even think about connecting because you assume that the material is all that matters.
Level II Presenters: These are presenters who are definitely skilled and proficient and have developed a personal style of presenting the material, but fall short in connecting to their audience. Like Level I presenters, they fail to miss the real goal of presenting which is that if you connect with your audience, you will get them to listen to the material and adjust to your style. Many Level II presenters are comfortable presenting anything, but remain stuck in an intuitive level of instructing. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but it keeps them at a level that prohibits them from achieving maximum effectiveness as a leader.
Level III Presenters: When one graduates to Level III, you have become a presenter that people will pay to listen to talk on any topic. The material and style become less important because your reputation as a speaker proceeds you. You have developed your own ability to connect with your audience on any topic. When you think about great comedians such as Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, Carol Burnette, they had different styles of presenting themselves but they had an ability to adjust and react and present any material in such as way that you would pay to watch them no matter what the topic was! It’s the same with presenters.
So, the goal with our Master Presenter class is not to change you. We don’t guarantee that everyone that takes the class will go from Level I to Level III presenters in the 5-day class, but I will say that the transformations that take place are phenomenal and affirming to me as a veteran instructor. Trust me, there were many years that I myself was stuck in Level I presentation mode. I thought that my material was the most important thing. I would be so much in my head that I would often freeze when I had to talk in front of large groups. It took years of practice and developing my own personal style to achieve the level I’m at currently.
In this class, our goal is to give our students the understanding that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and, in fact, it’s the only way to truly grow. The class involves a lot of experiential exercises – all week. The synergy that is created in this class is one of the most rewarding things for me as an instructor. In every class, we have at least one student who has never or rarely spoken in front of a group and doesn’t think they can do it. By Friday, they are typically some of our most transformed students! The synergy created comes from the connection created between the instructor and student, the student to instructor, but also the student to student connection. Many of our students continue their relationships with one another beyond the class. Many have organically created small groups to practice a simple exercise I would encourage everyone to try – the one-word game. Zoom with a group of professionals or get together once a month in a small group and each person chooses a word for another in the group. So, person A would choose a word say “enthusiasm” and select another in the group (person B) to say something about that word through a story or visual connection in a 1-minute time frame. You can do this yourself in front of a mirror with a timer on your cell phone. Get in the habit of doing this daily, weekly and you will be surprised how much you start to see both your style (facial expressions, hand gestures, etc.) and your tone of voice. You start to focus less on the content and more on making a connection to your audience – even when you are practicing this exercise alone!
I am really excited about the possibilities of this course. It’s been tremendously successful and rewarding and takes leadership up a notch, something I’m always wanting to do for my students. I hope each of you gets an opportunity to take this class. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us through our website at www.lhln.org and request to host one in 2021!
Dean teaching Master Presenter in Waynesboro, GA
Thank you to Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams &
Augusta Marshal Ramone Lamkin for co-hosting this event!
- Learn a new paradigm on presentation
- Understand that it is going to be uncomfortable
- Learn the three levels of comfort
- How to connect with your audience
- Understand infotainment
- Learn the six steps to becoming a master presenter