Thursday, September 11, 2014

To be Believable, Go All-In

One of my favorite "reality shows" has gotten a lot of attention this week. Yes, it is #sharktankweek and I have enjoyed watching a few episodes I missed and even a couple I had already seen. If I have learned one thing from watching this show, it is that presentation has at least as much to do with the likelihood of getting funding as does the actual idea. In fact, in a few cases, it was clear the 'sharks' liked the business owner more than their product, and I even watched Kevin O'Leary honestly make an offer so he could burn the product and save the owner years of misery. "Mr. Wonderful" certainly implied that he thought the owner was better than their product offering.
The idea that the quality of the presentation is a critical success factor is certainly no surprise. Corporate America spends millions specifically on presentation training. Deloitte recently reported that corporate training grew 15% in 2013 to over $70 Billion in the US, and fortune 500 companies are spending an average of $5,000 on training per salesperson.
What I have learned from my own presentation experiences and from various training events is that if you want to be believable; you cannot hold back. How many of us have watched people who seem to have the right idea about a motion, hand-gesture, or exaggeration, but then seem to pull back at the last minute. The audience sees this as disingenuous. Perhaps we don't even know we do it, but subconsciously, we immediately assume the presenter doesn't really believe what they are saying.
I've had the same personal experience. When I was not actually convinced of the information I was presenting, I hesitated, I hedged, I stuttered. When I am confident and have fully embraced the information I am presenting, something amazing happens to me...I lose myself. I forget about being self-conscious and about the presentation and focus on my audience's response to the information I am providing. The beauty of this is that my listeners actual begin to engage, and the result is often more dialogue and less monologue.
Of course, there are plenty of do's and don't for presentations, and you can find them all over the web and in many publications. Forbes has an entire series of articles about presentations on their website. Here's a great one from Communispond, a company whose training I have actual attended: The Only Way To Prepare To Give A Presentation via @forbes
But with all the quality training and tips available, at the end of the day you must be believable to be accepted. For that to happen, you must first believe the information yourself. Then you must go all-in. Don't hold back. Make your gestures large, and be bold. Speak loudly, smile, show confidence, and you will win.

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