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Why am I great ‘til I gotta be great? Or whatever Lizzo said. You know the feeling: you were sure you could wing it right up until the moment you couldn’t. Maybe you prepared a good deck but blew the delivery. Or you think decks are for drinking on which is how you came up with the idea to pad out the last quarter financials with twerking and jazz flute. Blame it on the juice.
What’s Your Preparation Personality?
There are two reasons people go into presentations badly prepared: overconfidence and underconfidence. Let’s take a quick test to find out which is you.
Q1. When faced with an upcoming presentation I:
A) Feel comfortable that my innate charm will be enough to carry me through
B) Feel an uncontrollable urge to move to Greenland
Q2. My natural speaking charisma is:
A) Part of my business toolkit, smoothing over any gaps in my knowledge
B) My what now?
Q3. My Q&A style is:
A) Great question, actually that reminds me of an unrelated story…
B) Asking them to hold questions to the end, knowing I deliberately booked the room for less time than my presentation and the receptionist is going to kick us out soon
Q4. When I have a presentation go badly I:
A) Shrug it off. What’s a few failed pitches when you’re this likable, right?
B) Die inside, go home and eat all the carbs.
All As: your belief in yourself is admirable in these days of anxiety and self-doubt, but if you think people don’t notice when you’re fudging, you’re wrong. You may be getting a reputation as a lovable flake, and you know what they say: No flakes for high stakes. Well, they don’t say that, but they should.
All Bs: Your lack of confidence makes you procrastinate. As a result you’re unsure of your material, horrified by the prospect of standing up, and unconvincing in your delivery. A bad encounter is inevitable, which only increases your fear and makes you even more avoidant next time, creating a vortex of doom spiralling downwards. Yikes.
Mixed As and Bs: Maybe you were supremely confident in the leadup but once your mouth was open nothing came out. A mind blank is usually the result of being under-rehearsed, especially when you’re trying to recall a script. A solid knowledge of your material and an ability to talk to your bullet points unscripted will be more use to you than a clever script that’s not deeply embedded. It’s not more work, it’s the right work.
Get good has hell:
Sure, sometimes you’ll wing it and it will work, but expecting that to happen every time is a recipe for disaster. To nail a great business presentation you need consistent, active preparation: clarity and knowledge around your subject and enough effective rehearsal to solidify your speaking and find any issues. Truth hurts, which Lizzo definitely said. At The Pickering Group we're experts in business presentation training and business storytelling. Find our guides to preparation techniques here and our exclusive managing anxiety guide here, and be great when you gotta be great.
Ps. If you don't know who Lizzo is, here you go. You're welcome!
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