You can’t fluff your lines!
The idea for this title came from a news article I read earlier today: it said that a few top-notch footballers of the Manchester City Club in the English Premier League couldn’t get their lines right – each of them were speaking couple of sentences in a video being made to promote the Club’s main sponsor, Umbro … Imagine!!
Watch for yourself – http://tinyurl.com/85o22ja
You are sitting across the table from a prospective customer and he asks you to say a few things about your product or your company; or it’s a prospective employer asking you to describe yourself in one minute. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if you stuttered and stammered and couldn’t get going?
What would be the result of such a disaster? (To know what impact it had on a King watch the film “The King’s Speech”.)
For the listener / the audience it would seem that you are not a very confident person or that you have not prepared well for this important meeting or even that you have taken it too lightly.
For you it would be a loss of face, loss of opportunity, loss of confidence and a huge embarrassment. You could have thrown away a job or a contract; and your credibility goes out of the window, in any case.
You can’t get it wrong … the occasion is just too important and the stakes too high!
How can you avoid such a situation?
1. Prepare in advance
If it’s going to be a rendition of scripted material read it in advance – read it as many times as possible. Get the word pronunciations and phrasing right. Decide where you would pause and where you would give stress to enhance impact. If it’s not scripted you should know the details well. You should have read all of it in advance and decided on the points that you would use during the presentation. It would make sense to focus on the points that would interest the person (s) you are meeting. Keep the audience in mind while preparing the content and delivery.
2. Prepare yourself
Not just the material – prepare yourself for the session. Dress for the occasion. Calm your nerves by doing some breathing exercises. Do some exercises to calm the muscles on the face and exercise for the throat would help too. Visualise yourself making the presentation in a pleasant ambiance. Your mental make-up has a lot to do with how you look, how you feel and how the words are delivered.
3. Practice aloud
It helps to speak out the words as many times you possibly can. Before I delivered my speeches at the toastmasters’ club I would practice at last 15 to 20 times. The first few times I would just read the speech from beginning to end – and then a few times I would try to say it without looking at the material. By then I would have the pronunciation right and the words are in my head. Next I would practice the tone, pitch and body language that would accompany the words. And finally I would add the movement on the stage – because it looks odd when you deliver the entire speech from one spot. But the last bit does not matter when you are delivering the speech in front of a fixed mic or camera. However all these are points you can use while preparing for a presentation. Even your position with respect to the audience is important.
4. People want you to succeed
A lot of times people goof up in spite of preparing well because they choke when they see an audience. They get all sorts of negative thoughts into their head – the audience is going to find the subject boring, these guys are going to laugh at me, my jokes lack punch and so on. Well, you are only going to get better at this only after a few times – so the earlier you start in life the better. One way to deal with these jitters is to get a mini audience to hear you a few times. I used to trouble a friend of mine to listen to all my speeches before I delivered them to a larger audience. Your family could be of help in this.
But remember that people genuinely want you to succeed – they wouldn’t be there if they thought that you are going to make a poor quality speech/presentation. So, be it an audience of one (like at interview) or a few (like a presentation to a Board) or many (like a Club gathering) just believe that you are the best and that the audience is looking forward to hear a stirring performance from you.
- Define the requirement,
- Decide what will be done,
- Design the content and methodology,
- Deliver first in practice mode and then in front of your audience
- DELIGHT - achieved on both sides when you succeed!
I have a dream … that you are going to make a memorable presentation the next time you are called upon to do so!