As a consultant I do a lot of pitches and client presentations. The most gut wrenching time is not during the presentation but the few minutes before it starts.
What can you do to make sure that those last few minutes are not spent in a panic? Here are three tips I learned hat have helped tremendously.
BE REALLY PREPARED.
Yes, it’s true. There is nothing better to get past the jitters than knowing
• What you are going to say,
• Potential questions,
• What your competitors might say
• A LOT about the company you are presenting to.
Sounds like a no brainier, but somehow I still see people fumbling around as if the first time they’ve seen the presentation is right before presentation time.
That means you have to be done with your presentation way ahead of time. Get it done at least a day early so you can print and relax
This one sounded silly to me when I first heard it but it worlds. Practice power poses before you present. There is a killer TED talk that gives the science behind it. Trust me, if you feel powerful you will be!
START THE PRESENTATION WITH QUESTIONS.
Yes, it’s another oldie but goodie. But it works. Nothing gets your mind at ease more than someone else talking. It also helps you alter the presentation based on the answers. Sometimes, like in a presentation I did today, you might need to abandon your prepared remarks entirely! Hence the reason to be prepared!!!!!!
Have a handful of questions to get the dialogue started. And don’t you dare start with “how’s the weather” or “how about those Cubs” type of nonsense.
1. If you are a Cubs fan, admitting it is not smart (sorry I’m a White Sox fan).
2. Your questions should open up conversation, give you insight and show you are prepared. Asking questions gets you information but also tells a lot about you. There are no dumb questions but there are dumb times to ask them.
What do you do to be calm and ready to deliver presentations?
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.