Recently my wife and I were looking at old videos of our kids when they were little. One of the clips we watched that triggered some teary-eyed nostalgia was of our six-year-old daughter, Leah, in a school play. There she was on stage with her classmates “acting” their little hearts out, or not. Many of those young faces are still sharing a bus with her to the local high school, including CJ. I mention CJ because, as we watched the clip, my wife and I were amused for a second time at CJ’s inability to remain in place or still for more than a few seconds at a time. As his fellow mini actors did their best to act out a scene from a Dr. Zeuss story, CJ would wander around the stage, look up into the stage rafters or down at his homemade over-size felt boots. He was a total distraction!
I tell this story to emphasize the need, when we are a part of an presentation team, to avoid becoming the CJ. What do I mean? Sometimes, when we are waiting to present, or having completed our portion of the presentation the temptation to check out is appealing. If we haven’t presented, we may be going over our “lines” in our head, or, if we are finished, we start to think other thoughts. Whatever we are doing, we are not engaged with what’s happening in the presentation in that moment. Maybe we’re looking up, or our eyes drift down to the table to look at our notes one more time. These can be the CJ moments for the prospect or client. They become distracted by our inattention.
Staying present when we are not “on” is the task. Behaviors such as nodding in agreement to something a colleague has just said, looking at the prospect or client for their reactions, or orienting yourself in such a way that you can let your eyes move between your colleagues and the prospect or client are ways to stay connected and engaged before or after you play your part.