I often see posts on LinkedIn from people who perpetuate the “comfort” myth, who advocate personal comfort as the boundary line between who we are and who we hope to be in the realm of what we might call uncomfortable business presentations.
“I just don’t feel comfortable doing that” vies for one of the poorest excuses I hear for refusing to become a great presenter.
Sure, make me a great presenter . . . just don’t make me change what I’m doing now, because I might feel “uncomfortable.”
“Uncomfortable Business Presentations”
When did our “comfort” become the yardstick by which we measure presentation greatness? You think that you can become a great business presenter without changing behavior?
Odd as that sounds, many people believe it. Because they think the essence of great presenting exists somewhere outside themselves – in a software package or in some secret that’s been kept from them.
Just the other day, I saw someone post presentation “advice” in a major forum, urging would-be speakers to stick close to the podium if they “felt uncomfortable” moving more than a few steps away from it while speaking.
What awful advice. Heinous.
If you’re a person who buys into the “comfort myth,” then stay away from me and don’t even talk to me about wanting to improve your business presenting skill.
If your presentations suck, if you’re stiff, and your voice grates, and you hide behind the podium, and you can’t look at people, and you get tongue-tied, and you slouch and dance, and you’ve made your presentations this way as long as you can remember . . . I guarantee that you’ll feel “uncomfortable” doing anything else.
So, if “comfort” is your goal, just keep on keepin’ on. It’s one of the easiest “accomplishments” you’ll achieve in your life.
Comfortably Bad Habits
If your degree of “comfort” determines what you do in life, then resign yourself to mediocrity right now, this second.
“I just don’t feel comfortable mingling with people.”
“I just don’t feel comfortable training for a marathon.”
“I just don’t feel comfortable playing a difficult piece of music.”
“I just don’t feel comfortable practicing new presentation techniques.”
If that’s your attitude and your excuse, then prepare yourself to stay exactly where you are in life as you avoid uncomfortable business presentations. Settle in and get “comfortable,” because that’s where you’ll be 20 years from now.
Again, if your presentations suck now, if you’re stiff, and your voice grates, and you hide behind the podium, and you can’t look at people, and you get tongue-tied, and you slouch and dance . . . you’ll still be doing it 20 years from now, assuming that anyone in his or her right mind let’s you get up in front of an audience when the stakes truly count.
If you grow “comfortable” in your bad habits, they’re still bad habits. And you will break them only by adopting new habits . . . that discomfit you initially. They feel “uncomfortable” until they become “comfortable” for you.
So, if you want to remain right where you are, stagnant, never improving, I urge you to just stay “comfortable.”
Your more ambitious competition in the workforce will thank you.
For trenchant advice on how to deliver uncomfortable business presentations that can take you to your presentation greatness, consult the Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.