Confident Presenting


Cameron Wilcock

Cameron Wilcock

You could see how much everyone had improved from their short presentations on the first day to the longer presentations at the end of the second day. It was such a supportive atmosphere… The whole course was phenomenal.

Verified by an engineer

Cameron, from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, is a Test Engineer at Martin-Baker Aircraft. The company has specialised in the design and manufacture of ejection seats for fighter jets for over 70 years. “As a child, I was always interested in mechanics, rebuilding bikes and things like that, but to be honest I fell into mechanical engineering,” says Cameron, 26. “I chose the broadest engineering degree I could find at the University of Nottingham. When I started studying Mechanical Engineering, it seemed to resonate with me and, after a few months, I just loved it.”

That wasn’t the only thing that caught his interest at university. He also discovered Ultimate Frisbee. “I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been captain and taken on coaching, as well as a lot of other roles. It helped me develop my confidence, and I gained an ability to communicate with authority to my peers and teammates. These skills have all been useful at work and I am always keen to learn more.”


Why the Confident Presenting course?

“Making presentations is a key part of my job. I present to programme managers, design engineers and human engineering. I present to internal stakeholders and external customers, and I perform preliminary design reviews, critical design reviews and safety briefings. So, presenting is an intrinsic part of my role as a Test Engineer.

“Presenting was mentioned in the job description and in my interview, but I don’t think I really appreciated its importance until I started. I had to make my first presentation within a matter of weeks. I was terrified! Fortunately, it went OK. It is not something you get any training on at university. You are not taught formally how to present professionally. I want to get better and that’s why this course interested me.

“I had an additional challenge in that shortly after I started, we went into lockdown for the pandemic. By the time I found my feet in my role, all my presentations were virtual. I have got used to virtual presentations and improved massively there, but when it comes to in-person presentations, it’s a new ballpark. I find myself getting nervous, even though I know the content. A lot of this course is about in-person presenting. That was a big incentive for me personally. I want to improve and hone those skills.”

What was your experience of the course?

“It was a two-day course taken by Andy Webber. He was fantastic. He is one of the best trainers I have ever had, by far. He is really knowledgeable while, at the same time, being down to earth. He kept pushing us but also gave fantastic feedback.

“There were only five of us, and we came from the risk management and aerospace sectors. We were quite varied in terms of our skills but the way the course was planned it didn’t matter. Andy created a safe space to take us out of our comfort zones, push us on our issues and then bring us back so we didn’t feel alienated.

“The very first task was a two- to three-minute presentation on anything we wanted. We had ten minutes to prepare it. It was fantastic because you could choose an area on which you knew everything. I did mine on Ultimate Frisbee. It was a really good way of highlighting what people naturally did well and where they weren’t as strong.

“We spent the two days going over a whole range of topics – too many for me to remember off the top of the head! There were really good presentation techniques and advice on soft skills – projecting your voice, making eye contact, body language, keeping an audience’s attention, what to do with your hands, how to get rid of nervous energy in a positive way and so on.

“We also looked at how to build an effective deck in PowerPoint. There were some great pointers on how to lead your audience from one slide to the next, using transitions and what to do to keep your audience’s concentration. One great tip was to press “B” during a presentation. It turns the screen black and means your audience turns their attention to you, rather than looking at the screen.

“The final exercise on the second day was a 15-minute presentation on a topic of our choice. We had been told about this before the course and asked to choose a topic beforehand. Throughout the two days, the trainer would remind us, ‘Consider what we’ve just covered and now try to apply it to your presentation.’

“Everyone did their 15-minute presentation, and it was recorded so we could all go back and look at ourselves. You could see how much everyone had improved from their short presentations on the first day to the longer presentations at the end of the second day. It was such a supportive atmosphere and that last exercise tied everything up nicely.

“The whole course was phenomenal.” 

What are the key reasons someone should attend Confident Presenting?

1 “The course helps highlight your habits, tics and subconscious issues that come to light when you are presenting. That was a big eye opener for me.”

2 “It provides a fantastic framework of how to build a great presentation but also demonstrates there’s no one golden rule.”

3 “The trainer creates a safe space for you to try new techniques and receive honest, constructive criticism from an expert.”

What’s been the impact?

“In the very first session, I discovered I have a tic I’ve never been aware of. When I am nervous, I tend to sway and move from one foot to the other. I mentioned it to my mum after the course and she said, ‘Oh yes, you’ve done that all your life!’ Andy has given me strategies to help me with that.

“Now, when it comes to planning a presentation, I think much more consciously about my audience: ‘Do I need to present this particular piece of information? Is it worthwhile for the audience?’ I examine my objectives and what I want the audience to take away. My presentations have improved massively and I feel 100 per cent more confident. I think previously, I picked up skills from my colleagues and just sort of winged it! Now I feel I can actually do what I want and in a much more efficient manner.

“The course has completely opened my eyes to how I communicate, not just when I am presenting but in all areas of life. I can transition the skills I have learned into day-to-day conversations. So, if I’m going over test documentation with stakeholders or customers, I feel I can do that much more confidently. That was an unexpected positive for me.”

Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees

1 “Consider recording yourself doing a presentation before starting the course. Your mannerisms and your physical energy will become obvious. By highlighting potential issues, it may shine a light on areas you want to improve.”

2 “Go through the pre-course material. There are some videos and TED talks that give valuable insight.”

3 “When you attend presentations, pick out what aspects you like and what you don’t like. Consciously think about presenting styles – there may be techniques you can acquire for yourself.”

What’s next?

“As part of my role at Martin-Baker Aircraft, I supervise students who are with us. I am going to use the first exercise we did on day one – the two- or three-minute presentation on any subject. It’s so revealing and helpful. Also, I have recently applied the presentation skills learned on this course to an early aerospace careers fair. I am hoping to assist on more of these, as well as general STEM outreach in the coming years.

“I am currently working towards my Chartership application with the IMechE, with the intention of submitting it by the end of the year. I have taken a few other IMechE courses recently, including Communication and Influencing Skills. I want to do more. The soft skills that I am learning will really help in my career.”

Confident Presenting

  • Duration:
    2 days
  • Location
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec:
    C, D, E