When in Doubt of Your Team’s Presentation Skills Do This

Over the last dozen years, we’ve fielded at least one call a week from a leader who has a concern about a team member’s ability to communicate. Ultimately, this means they are not influencing, a problem for any enterprise looking to launch, grow or win.  

Every call is the result of an undisputable emotional trigger – something that the leader (or their leaders) have deeply felt. And suffice to say, the emotion is usually negative. 

We’ve been cataloging these emotions and working to understand what triggers them. Over the several weeks, we’ll be sharing them with you in a series of posts to help you and your team incorporate communication behaviors that reduce the negative and increase the positive responses. 

We’ll start this week with Doubt.


Noun: a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.

We view doubt as a broken window. It doesn’t tear down an entire building – or career – but it begins the process. If the window isn’t fixed, more break. It becomes hard to repair – both the building and the executive’s reputation. 

Here’s an example of what we’re talking about. And this is a true story. Of course, names have been changed. 

It was Suzanne’s first presentation in her new job. Let’s say her new career. She had been a lifelong civil servant and had just switched over to be a private sector executive of a large business unit of a top 50 company. The stakes were high but her experience on a stage with teleprompters, lights, video recordings, and critical eyes was low. 

The day after the presentation, the call came into our office with one leading emotion: DOUBT. Did we hire the right person? Can she do this job? Can she be trained? What if she isn’t the right fit? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. 

The only one we could answer was this one : YES, she can be coached and trained. Most everyone can.

It took a good nine months and a significant partnership between her boss, her, and us, but our feedback at her year anniversary was that she was crushing it. That’s a far cry from “Is she the right person for the job?”

The bottom line is she WAS the right person. She just didn’t have those “performance presentation” skills they were expecting from her. Pacing on stage, gripping notes, wanting a podium, re-writing the night before, and above all, not knowing her audience (yet) were behaviors of inexperience. One by one, she put tools in her arsenal and moved the doubt into confidence. It only worked, however, because she was willing to be vulnerable and do the work. 

Our reminder to the client was: one moment on stage does not define all of your qualities as a leader, especially if you haven’t been trained for THAT moment. We’re grateful for clients who celebrate strengths and coach up weaknesses. And we’re here for THOSE moments, and we’re here to convert doubt to confidence. It’s our favorite thing to do.

Watch for the next post on Frustration soon.

Need to Improve Your Team’s Presentation Skills? We Can Help.

Articulation can teach you team members to quickly translate complex ideas and data into compelling content and communicate solutions with confidence and clarity to win support. Our Message Method class will help take the guesswork out of wrestling through content to determine what to share with an audience. With that in hand, you will be guided through a process of understanding your audience, the context, and your big idea, and then teach you how to build a case for support with data, stories, and feedback. Contact us and let us know how we can support you.