No matter how many times you have delivered the same presentation, there are always unknowns. The message might not change, but the audiences sure do. Clearly, the more you deliver the same message, the tighter that presentation becomes. But what about the presentations you deliver for the first time?
Recently, I was giving a presentation for the first time, in a format that was new to me, with an audience that was unaccustomed to this type of presentation, in a time limit that was unusual, to say the least. The funny thing is, I was feeling pretty relaxed about it. That’s not because I have ice in my veins, or I’m impervious to worry, but simply because I know there’s only so much that can be done to prepare.
For instance, let’s take a look at how to prepare for a presentation you’ve never delivered before. No matter how much you prepare, there will be a few hiccups in front of a live audience. In the end, you have to trust your ability to roll with the punches and deliver the most critical points of the presentation. The fact is, if you can convert that anxiety of the unknown into focused energy, your performance will meet, if not exceed, your expectations.
Is the presentation in a format that is new to you? That’s a tough one, but then again, it’s not all that unusual for companies to throw curveballs at presenters. Want to see a client’s respect grow monumentally? Watch what happens when a client throws that curveball and the presenter doesn’t blink. In the end, you don’t blink because no matter what the curveball might be, you know that a few educated guesses (based on experience) will mask what you can’t control. Again, the fact is, if you can convert that anxiety of the unknown into focused energy, your performance will meet, if not exceed, your expectations.
How about timing? You can present to a mirror that doesn’t talk back, but in reality, it’s nearly impossible to accurately time a presentation that has never been delivered. So, in the end, you have to trust your ability to expand and contract information on the fly. Once again, the fact is, if you can convert that anxiety of the unknown into focused energy, your performance will meet, if not exceed, your expectations.
Stepping in front of an audience surrounded by unknowns might throw a few people off, but when you accept the fact that good really is more than good enough, your success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than being inhibited by the stress over unknowns you can never fully prepare for, you will be free to release your energy and enthusiasm.
In the end, one of the key differences between amateur presenters and professional presenters lies right here: The amateurs obsess on the unknown. The professionals not only accept it; they embrace it.