What just happened?
Darrell Ford flopped down at his desk and stared blankly at the whirling screensaver.
How had his presentation gone so well? He’d received a round of applause… For a business presentation!
In contrast, last week’s presentation was an unmitigated disaster. The only presentation worse was that of old Percy Simmons a couple of months back, when he’d been unable to speak and suddenly started crying.
So, what had changed?
Darrell had slaved over last week’s disastrous presentation. He’d given no more than 30 minutes thought to this recent success.
He had been meticulous with his slide design for the disaster. Today’s success had no slides.
Last week’s train wreck had been scripted down to perfection. There wasn’t a line Darrell hadn’t known. Today’s performance had no script.
Darrell had even received coaching for last week’s unpleasant recital. He’d lacked knowledge of some of the finer points of the material so he’d been walked through them… Plus he’d had his script! This week, no script, no coaching.
He had done no preparation and had almost received a standing ovation!
He got away with murder!
As he puzzled over the mystery, he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was his boss.
“Good job today, Darrell. You really know your stuff. You looked so… natural. So comfortable.”
And right there, Darrell’s boss solved the puzzle.
His presentation had been so well received because he was knowledgeable, he was relaxed, he was comfortable. Three things that didn’t happen the previous week. In the previous week’s presentation Darrell had been uptight, focused on not making mistakes, trying to remember everything he needed to say.
Here are 3 fundamental differences between Darrell’s botched presentation and his triumphant one.
1. Know your subject
“I can just relax once I remember all the words I need to say.”
No you won’t.
You can write out a script and memorize it word-for-word, but you’ll never be relaxed. You will constantly be worried you haven’t practiced enough, you’ll forget different parts each time you deliver, you’ll fumble on stage.
And let’s face it… In business these days, who has the time to practice a script over and over again?
The key to relaxing on stage, is to know your topic really well.
Take Darrell’s situation as an example. In his successful presentation he knew his subject well. As a result he was able to give little thought to what he would say and was more relaxed.
I don’t recommend going into a presentation with no preparation, but over-preparation won’t help.
2. Know the point you want to get across
Even if you forget key elements of what you want to say, you’ll always stay on track if you keep one thing in mind:
What is the key point I want to get across?
– or –
What do I want the audience to do immediately following my presentation?
3. Know that slides can only enhance a delivery sometimes
A slide deck will only help your delivery if you know what you are going to say before you build the deck.
Build the deck before you know what you are going to say and your slides will become the driver of your presentation.
Build the deck before you know what you are going to say and you will end up following the slides during the presentation rather than speaking with the audience.
What do you think? Let me know your experiences or thoughts in the comments below. Let’s discuss!