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How to improve presentation skills: Get to know yourself inside out

The key of how to improve presentation skills comes from basic emotion.

Joy, Fear, Disgust, Sadness and Anger.

Five abstract concepts at the heart of Pixar’s animated movie Inside Out.

Which together describe our key emotions.

I’ve seen all of these emotions displayed during presentations or media interviews.

The goal of this blog is to help you understand how to improve presentation skills by applying this logic.

We’ve even got an e-learning video course to help too.

And ultimately this will allow you to control these emotions – and perform better as a result.

The film

Disney Pixar’s Inside Out is the product of six years’ work and has just enjoyed the most successful opening of any animation, including the multi-award-winning Frozen.

The vehicle for this story is the tale of a young girl uprooted from her home town of Minnesota and transplanted in San Francisco.

Her parents move home away from her friends, her school, her ice hockey and happy childhood memories.

Joy turns to sadness… helped along by fear and disgust… culminating in anger.

All five battle for control of her emotions in headquarters at the centre of her brain.

The film is utterly brilliant, appealing to adults and children alike.

What will be fascinating to see will be the effect it has on children and adults in rationalising their feelings and getting them under control.

The emotions of fear, disgust, sadness, anger and joy can all be displayed in presentations.

Let’s explore them in turn.


How to improve presentation skills glasgow inside out boy showing fear.

Fear is the biggest player when it comes to handling the media or making a presentation.

The fear of saying the wrong thing –or fear of being ‘caught out’ as people see it, by a journalist.

And fear also is a major player when public speaking or making a presentation – or pitching for new business.

Fear that we perform badly – or fear of being unable to handle an awkward question.


How to improve presentation skills glasgow inside out man Anger.

I’ve seen people angry at themselves for handling a question poorly or stumbling through a presentation.

This anger has the potential to stifle learning – as we lose control of our emotions.

Much better to stay in control.


media training courses glasgow inside out woman showing Disgust.

You can see the disgust on people’s faces as they fall below their own expectations.

Or when they forget to make a point they had planned to make.

I’ve seen people disgusted at their own body language.

Or at hearing the sound of their voice upon playback of media interviews or presentations.


How to improve presentation skills glasgow inside out girl crying.

And then there’s sadness.

That feeling of deep disappointment in ourselves, in our interview, in our presentation.

Sadness at failing to impress on front of their more senior colleagues.

It’s common.


How to improve presentation skills glasgow inside out little girl smiling.

But what about joy?

It’s available to everyone, but is sometimes ignored.

We can be so self-critical in the UK that we utterly refuse to accept that we’ve done a good job.

The perfectionist will reject joy because there’s always some fault to find with a performance.

The pessimist will downgrade the value of anything they do and choose disgust over joy any time.

The person who accepts that all interviews and presentations are imperfect can find joy by performing extremely well.

And recognising that while perfect is an impossible dream, excellent really does exist.

Emotional intelligence

How to improve presentation skills inside out man sitting on bench Emotional Intelligence.

So let’s get one thing straight.

We need ALL of these emotions – joy, sadness, disgust, fear and anger – at some stage of our emotional journey.

They have a role to play in bringing us back to a sensible place when we lose balance and perspective.

Fear tells us that there is a danger in getting our presentations or interviews wrong – so work hard to make them right.

Disgust is the stick we use to hit ourselves with when we screw up. But take it easy – or we’ll beat ourselves up.

Sadness shows a vulnerability – attractive to others – that we can be disappointed and it’s OK to show it at times.

Anger helps us let off steam – rather than shut down or blow ourselves to bits when under pressure.

Joy is the moment when all the learning, the practice, the execution come together with that warm feeling that you’ve succeeded.

You’ve got it right – and performed to the best of your ability.

How to improve presentation skills

How to improve presentation skills glasgow inside out train concourse.

We deal with people every week who struggle to take the abstract concepts of their business, such as wealth management or law, and make them interesting.

Some feel resigned to a life of people misunderstanding what they do.

And so they body-swerve explanations about their business.

But we can all take a lesson from Pixar.

And work hard to make our story relate to the audience, as Inside Out does so well.

On our media training courses and presentation skills courses, we love dismantling jargon.

We run these courses around the world.

And now, you can learn at your own pace with our e-learning video course on how to improve presentation skills.

Just as Inside Out has done with the five big emotions, we want your presentations to come alive.

And leap out at the audience.

Few of us know ourselves inside out.

But Pixar has made it a whole lot easier to understand our conflicting emotions.


Bill McFarlan is co-founder and Executive Chairman of  Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here.


Photos in How to improve presentation skills blog by David Blackwell. / Foter / CC BY-ND; Cl W P / Foter / CC BY-SA; Ferran. / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND; pullip_junk / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDSan Diego Shooter / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDBraulioMS / Foter / CC BY-NC.
How to improve presentation skills blog edited by Colin Stone.

31st July 2015 Featured in: Blog, Communication skills training blogs By:

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