Welcome All!

If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Presenting with presence and impact

Will I do well selling this concept?
Will I be able to answer all questions the best possible way?
Will I be convincing in promoting this drastic strategy change? 
How will they respond to my explanation of the budget problems?

Many questions, or better: worries. Recognize any of them?
As Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Aurelius stated, “Our live is what our thoughts make it”.  And as any motor cycle rider, horseback rider, and car driver knows: we go where our focus lies. What is your focus and which are your goals when presenting? Which are your beliefs and thoughts when preparing for a presentation and while taking the stage? Are you striving to have all the answers, to swiftly redirect all criticism, to show off how well you know your facts. Are you focused on leaving the impression of a smashing presenter and an effective change maker?

If you do, your tensions can be daunting, your worries overwhelming. They can evaporate your breath, your focus, and your confidence. They can lead to defense mechanisms and retreating in the trenches rather than connecting, inspiring, and moving and motivating your audience.  

Or you might not yet have recognized yourself in this writing. Maybe this is you: you are authentic, human, and fallible. Your presentation is more like a conversation. You show and share your passion and your purpose. You value differences. You are open to other perspectives and view them as enriching rather than threatening. Maybe you can laugh about your goof-ups. You reflect on yourself and get into the helicopter while being on stage.

Yes, of course, preparation, knowing your facts, experiencing some tension, catering to your audience, arriving on time, and familiarizing yourself with the environment are all important facets of a successful presentation, of a successful performance. It's well known that presentations serve to entertain, inform, persuade, or inspire and in order to achieve that, you have to be clear, brief, and convincing while providing your audience with specific action steps.

So, there are many different kinds of presentations with different audiences and purposes. Which means this writing is not a silver bullet nor a one-size-fits-all remedy. I merely suggest you focus less on ‘me’ and more on ‘we’. I suggest you view any performance, whether it be an official presentation or a meeting of some sort as a dialogue, as a work in progress. I merely suggest you see your presentation as an opportunity to share your vision, passion, and goals. To see it as a forum to spark interest and to increase commitment. I suggest you see the opportunities that a two-way endeavor can provide you with. Give it a try and see for yourself what difference it makes for you. 

Just a few of the many possible questions you might want to ask yourself in preparation of your presentation or meeting:
1.    What do I want to accomplish with this presentation or meeting?
-       Is it about me, them, a product/service, a thought?
-       Do I want to inspire or coerce, influence or control, persuade or manipulate?  
2.    What’s my view on the different means through which to accomplish this goal?
-       Do I believe I can convince, inspire, inform by focusing on me and on facts?
-       Do I believe that I have to overwhelm or ignite?
-       Do I believe in numbers, in stories, in emotions, or in a combination?
3.    Which are my beliefs about my audience and about myself?
-       Do I see them as equals or not?
-       Do I see myself as an authority not to be questioned?
-       Do I enjoy different views and integrate them in my presentation to the benefit of the greater good?
With many more questions to ask and ponder.

A slip of the tongue, a forgotten fact, a misplaced sheet, a technical disturbance, a dead moment in your presentation – none of these equal failure no matter how terrible and inexcusable they may seem at the moment. They merely equal being human, they equal opportunities to show strength in acknowledging the humanity of mistakes and to show your creative dealing with unfortunate mishaps. Authenticity, passion, and connectivity are key.

Me? I rather leave a lasting, authentic impression than gain a quick buy-in. How about you?

“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them”

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