You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. Think about it: if you’re going to someone’s house and you call them to ask how to get there, what’s the first thing they’re going to ask you?

Where are you?

Directions are contextual. They depend on a current location to determine how best to reach a desired location. One of the greatest weaknesses someone can have in life or in business is an inability to accurately assess their skills, capabilities and status. In fact, in a lot of situations it’s ok to be less talented if you’re more aware. With awareness comes compensation, practice, and improvement. But failing to own up to your weaknesses allows them to stay exactly the way they are: weak.

When you think about your presentation abilities, how often do you try to accurately score yourself? We’re not talking about a general score here; we’re talking about a specific, intentional skills assessment that you can actually use to improve your performance on stage. It’s one of the most important starting points for any presenter, because the moment you start the process of self-assessing, you actually embed into your mind a correctional framework that comes into play each and every time you present. In other words, once you’ve identified that, say, when it comes to joke telling you tend to tell the punch line too quickly, the next time you’re on stage telling a joke, that little voice in your head will start coaching you to slow down a bit.

That doesn’t mean improvement happens automatically, but awareness is the first step on any path to improvement. Even 12 Steps programs acknowledge this: step 1 is always admitting you have a problem. And it’s ok to have a problem if you’re willing to take responsibility and fix it.

It’s the same with presentation skills, and the same with life in general. Take a moment to give yourself an honest assessment of where you are in your presentation skills. Don’t be afraid to call out the good and the bad. Make it honest, and keep it handy with your presentation notes every time you’re rehearsing for the next opportunity. The more you reference the assessment, the more you’ll activate that inner coach that will help you improve.

Question: What is your greatest presentation strength? Weakness?

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