World-class athletes spend countless hours, days, and even years training to reach their hard-earned goal to compete at the Olympic games. Their truly awesome performances are a testament to the discipline, determination and toughness required to be the best of the best.
Although business presentations don’t require years spent on the slopes, on the ice, or in the gym, they do require mental, emotional, and yes, even physical toughness, to succeed. If you want your presentations to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to thoroughly prepare and, essentially, to train.
I was reminded of this reality recently while delivering a presentation on effective communication for a business organization I had just joined. My audience was business professionals, many of whom I didn’t know. Of course, I wanted it to go well. I wanted to captivate them, to impress them, the way I am captivated by the Olympic figure skaters I watch on TV. They make their routines look so effortless; it’s easy to forget they are actually on skates, gliding at a quick pace across an unforgiving surface. Figure skaters are the swans of the Olympics, all grace and poise. Yet, below the surface, there is tremendous effort based on years of preparation.
Like many performers, I’m the first to admit I have butterflies when I have to present to people I don’t know. So, in order to — hopefully like those figure skaters — present with grace and poise, I spent a good deal of time preparing, a.k.a. “training.”
I use the following checklist to help focus my own presentations. I hope it helps you do the same.
Go for Gold: Four Tips for Winning Business Presentations
-Warm up: Your warm up is the hours (and hours!) you spend tweaking and practicing your presentation.
-Stretch: Push yourself to new heights. Try techniques such as visualization as you practice, because new techniques may well enhance your presentation. Go beyond your comfort zone. Rather than focusing only on the content of your presentation, scan the room to connect with individual members of the audience. And, if you feel those butterflies, look up and smile at someone. Eye contact and smiles can move your presentation to another level.
-Compete: Look good when you enter the room. Your physical presence, from dressing in a way that projects your professional best, to standing straight and appearing physically relaxed, will help you embrace a competitive edge, one that says you are good at what you do.
-Stay focused: Just like the “inner game of tennis,” so much of making a winning presentation is mental. Stay focused, and let your genuine passion for the subject of the presentation show. This passion, perhaps more than anything else, will persuade someone to pay attention.
Of course, all of the above tips evolve from knowing your goal and your audience. When I presented to the business organization I’d just joined, I knew my audience would expect a presentation that was polished, crisp, and to the point. Happily, their positive responses reinforced my “training” approach. I may not have won a gold medal, but having people tell me how much they liked my presentation, was for me, its own kind of victory.
If you have any questions about how you can create winning business presentations, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.