To Thine Own Self be True

What makes a really great manager? Can it ever be our technical ability alone or is it more about the soft skills required to inspire, engage and enthuse our team? Despite our technical expertise, a managerial role can throw up diverse situations in which the ability to present ourselves in the right way eludes us.

There is no substitute for subject knowledge and for sincerity and integrity but the advice to “be ourselves” does not work in a situation which makes us feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Our real selves are already considering the logistics of fight or flight!

Just being yourself, regardless of technical brilliance, will not cut it in every situation. The variety of situations you face as a manager might be beyond the scope of what you have ever faced or what is comfortable to you. You may not be perceived as being a great manager by your staff even when you actually are … you’re just not coming across too well.

There might be a gap between how you think you come across and how you actually do! The good news, however, is that there is something that can be done to improve the way we present ourselves, even in situations which would normally eject us far out of our comfort zone.

personal presentation

Stefan Stern’s article (July 29 2019 Financial Times), ‘All the world’s a stage for managers with presence’, highlighted how using the tools of the theatre could enhance management style, changing the way we present ourselves and improving people’s perception of us.

The article recounted how the charismatic former director general of the BBC, Greg Dyke, would prepare to get his game face on every time he faced his staff, much like an actor preparing to go on stage. His undoubted leadership skills were proven by the mass staff walkout provoked by his resignation.

The article quotes Claire Dale of RADA discussing various techniques and physical skills such as effective breathing and “holding your space”, both leading to more effective communication and a growth in confidence.

It is certainly true that actors in professional performance training develop the ability to perform in a multitude of different situations. All of the coaches at Personal Presentation have been through this training and have worked as professionals in this field. They now specialise in helping talented individuals to acquire the ability to deliver in a variety of scenarios in their role as managers.

We do, however, offer more than physical skills at Personal Presentation: we help people develop a deeper level of understanding and self awareness, leading to the right kind of interactions across the board, not just when presenting to an audience.

So where are you at as a manager or an aspiring one? Could you agree with all of the following statements? If so, your soft skills as a manager are highly developed. You need to go for a promotion or a pay rise!


  • I am able to communicate professionally and clearly to colleagues at every level from senior management to employees – even when I’m feeling exposed, judged and vulnerable.


  • I enjoy presenting to an audience.


  • I can handle pressure from my seniors.


  • I love to pitch new proposals.


  • My ideas are always understood when I present to my team and they listen and move forward, clear about what I’ve asked them to do and motivated to achieve it.


  • All my work relationships are strong and secure.


  • I find it easy to motivate others.


  • I understand my team, what they value and what gives them purpose.


  • Handling disciplinary issues does not phase me. I deal with these swiftly and fairly, implementing strategies to correct the problem. I follow through.


If you are a normal human being there is a high probability that one or more of the above situations would make you feel a little exposed or uncomfortable. What if they didn’t though? Can you imagine relishing the challenge posed by these kinds of interaction? Rather than feeling uncomfortable about them?

Personal Presentation’s ‘Practice Room’ programmes provide high impact training in personal communication, enabling us to be aware of what is really going on in uncomfortable situations and become more in control of how we come across. More ‘game head’ than ‘game face’.

It may come as a relief to know that it is possible to change our underlying premises and revolutionise the outcomes of our communication! There really is nothing better than developing self confidence and the ability to sell ourselves and our organisation. With the right guidance we can start to communicate our personal qualities and technical expertise with enthusiasm and passion.

There’s nothing worse than being misjudged or having a message misinterpreted or distorted because of nervousness under pressure. Sometimes it’s just due to a lack of self-awareness or ineffective communication technique.

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling coming out of a meeting, of “Oh dear, I wish I could just go back in and do that again!” Practice Room techniques take your personal communication from the amateur to the professional, enabling you to transcend subjective feelings and appear real and natural even in alien arenas. You can communicate with the same consistency, reliability and quality you would apply to the technical aspects of your job.

What we have found over the years is that when participants learn how to appear real and natural in places where they had felt exposed or uncomfortable they grow to relish the challenge of these interactions and situations. Whether it’s conflict management, ‘difficult’ conversations, getting staff buy-in, pitching an idea or proposal, meeting with investors or fundraising, The Practice Room provides the tools to arrive at the most constructive and productive outcome possible.

We agree that “All The World’s a Stage For Managers With Presence”, but great communication in management should never be a superficial act. As Polonius said in Hamlet, ”To thine own self be true”.  At Personal Presentation not only will we help you develop the most effective physical and vocal skills, but we can also help you to understand yourself and other people with greater clarity and how to make conscious choices around how to present yourself, leading to more successful future communications.

The Practice Room puts “Being yourself. More. With skill” within your grasp.