Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
24 November 2014

What to do when the unexpected happens: mastering business presentations

Like it or not, every time you stand up to speak to a group, you carry the weight of expectation of every single person in the room.

As a leader (you’re a leader, regardless of your role, when you present), it’s your job to claim your ground, own the room, and inspire followership. If you don’t, you won’t be able to compel people to do what you’re asking. That’s your job too.

A tough gig? Absolutely. And sometimes, despite all your preparation, the unexpected happens.

Here are a few tips to deal with that:

Your presence is informed by your assumptions, beliefs and habits

Research, structuring your talk and practice (preferably out loud) are essential for any presentation.

I bet you don’t take into account your assumptions, thoughts, beliefs, habits and patterns as part of your preparation too. You need to.

Your presence fades with every word you say if you’re investing in thoughts and ideas that are negative.

Think someone in the room won’t be interested in what you’re saying? It’ll show up in your body language. And that’s just the start.

Before any presentation, dig deep into your limiting thoughts, then replace them with a clear intention and be aware of the actions and behaviours required to match it.

If, leading up to and/or during the presentation, those negative thoughts arise, go straight to your intention to create the alignment you need.

This is the preparation so few people do before an important presentation. It’ll help you deal with anything that could potentially catch you off guard, especially if it’s something you could have never predicted.

Fall in love with your feet

Your feet are your secret key to success when, all of a sudden, you forget what you wanted to say (otherwise known as brain freeze) and panic is threatening to set in.

If this happens, instantly take your attention of your feet. It’ll ground you, and when you’re grounded, you’ll think much more clearly.

Pauses help too. Never be afraid of a good old-fashioned pause. Most of us don’t pause anywhere near often enough. Pauses are powerful, and they never seem as long to your audience as they do to you.

Pauses are great for getting your audience’s attention too when people are being disruptive.

Prepare for tricky questions

Answering questions is the downfall of many a speaker. Those who do it well stand out for all the right reasons. It’s wise to have a few responses up your sleeve when the going gets tough:

“That’s not something I’ve heard before. I’ll consider it”

“I’ll need to do some research on that. I’ll get back to you”  (make sure you do!)

“I want to give you an informed answer and that’s tricky right now. Let’s talk after”

Answer but don’t linger. Move on to the next question. Own the room.

Call bad behaviour

If someone behaves inappropriately, you have every right to call them on it.

Remember, when you’re standing up the front, you’re in charge.

Be brave and bold. Great leaders are.

No-one said it was easy.

 

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