Sunday, February 20, 2011

Advice on how to give a great presentation

The secret is to stop worrying about one's own performance and instead focus on being a helpful resource for the audience.  That's the message in this really great column from the Harvard Business Review that I think nearly everyone can relate to - students, lawyers and profs.

The author, a successful securities analyst, talks about an important lesson he learned as a musical entertainer:

I've come to realize that my mental stumbling started when the performances stopped being about providing a musical foundation for [a singer] and creating a good experience for the audience — and became about me. As soon as my focus shifted to "How am I doing?" "Do I sound good?" "Do they like me?" nerves inevitably took over.

. . . .

[W]alking into a meeting knowing I won't field every question as well as I'd like can be intimidating. Yet when I present myself not as a soliloquizing authority, but rather as a resource to help clients get their job done, they seem to trust me more.
As we ready ourselves for a "performance," we envision the ideal: today I will deliver the perfect speech, and the client or audience will be so wowed, they will be sold. But for me, whenever playing the piano or giving a presentation becomes about performing — about proving something, rather than communicating — I rarely do well. Like Sisyphus, I can never roll the stone up the hill of my expectations.

You can read the rest of the column here - it's well worth the time.


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