Whether you are presenting to a prospect or existing client, the presentation meeting can feel like a pressured situation. So, the notion of showing a poise and ease, relaxed alertness and a conversational tone in front of a group of people who are there to judge you can feel like a big ask. Maybe this is your first presentation of the year, so all you want to do is get through your piece without messing up! However, a reality is that the greater the feeling of togetherness, trust, support and warmth aka psychological safety on your team, the more likely you are to feel present and confident because you know your teammates have your back.
So, you’ve done some breathing exercises to calm jingly nerves, played an improv activity or two to bring the team together and have everyone feeling energized. You walk into the conference room just vacated by a competitor, and now you want to show this buyer why you are the better choice. I believe the poet and writer Maya Angelou was correct when she said, “People don’t remember what you said, but remember how you made them feel.” So, a great place to begin is by working to create a psychologically safe finals meeting. Here are some things you can do to help this happen:
As you greet and engage with the prospect or client stay conscious of your own breathing. Remember your breath is the fuel for your voice and the oxygen supply to help calm a stressed system.Make eye contact with all of the people on the other side of the table as you introduce yourself or are introduced by the lead. Try to make it a quality of eye contact that says I’m okay and am fully present. (See bullet point #1 for help with this!)Introduce yourself in as personal a way as you are comfortable, tell them what you do with pride and warmth, and don’t forget the metaphor!As presentation team mates, talk to and about each other in a way that conveys credibility (they are good at their job) and warmth (I’m proud to be working with them).During the presentation look for opportunities for “human” moments. It could be an observation about something that just happened “Well that word sure didn’t come out the way I intended” or some personal vulnerability that helps you show up and connect with the committee “Being creative artistically was never my biggest skill, but I sure like to talk to these images in the context of the work I do as a ___.”Stay engaged with the speaker even when it is not your “turn”. Remember you are on “stage” all the time, so even if you don’t have a speaking part remember to help make those around you look good.