Presentation Skills – See or be Seen Exercise


See or be seen is an exercise that will help presenters become less self-concious and explore the idea of focus. This is exercise is typically used in acting classes, to teach actors how to become more relaxed and allow them to get the best performance possible with the fear of judgement from others. See or be seen can also be an excellent exercise for developing presentation and public speaking skills – especially for those worried about talking in front of others.

Exercise instructions: Half the group will be the audience and remain seated. The other half, the presenters, stand in a row facing the audience and looking above them into space. Audience members should carefully study the faces and body language of the presenters.

  1. The instructor tells the presenters to empty their minds and concentrate on simply being themselves.
  2. After a minute or two, the instructor tells the presenters to mentally visualize a room they know well and everything in it.
  3. After another minute or two, the instructor tells the audience and presenters to switch roles and repeat steps 1 and 2 with the other half of the group.

Review questions

  • How did the presenters feelings show in their behaviour and appearance?
  • How did you feel with the focus on being yourself?
  • What did you see when the presenters switched to visualising?
  • How did you block the feeling of being self-concious?
  • What strategies could you take to avoid feeling self-concious?

This exercise teaches how worrying it can be to have someone watch you when your mind is occupied – which is often the case with presentations. You fantasize and build up in your head how stupid and ungainly the watcher thinks you are. This then causes the presenter to lose track and begin making mistakes. Another common symptom is when a presenter speaks too fast to try and rush through the presentation. It results in mental and even physical discomfort and is utterly disabling for the presenter. Having or making mental work helps occupy the judge we all carry within, and lets you become more relaxed and normal again.

This exercise is great when teaching presentation fundamentals and for helping new presenters build in confidence. By learning to change their focus, presenters can become more relaxed and less self-concious when speaking in public.


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