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Best Plan: Be Prepared

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Wednesday, 20 December 2017 10:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

What happens when you have to give a briefing to the big boss or to a client, or a speech to a roomful of people? What goes through your mind in the weeks and days preceding the presentation?

To find the answers, I asked a number of successful people in various fields.

“The thing that goes through my mind,” says one successful entrepreneur, is “Can I pull it off? Will the contractor see the advantages of doing it the way I think it should be done? How can I make enough of an impact for this person to run with our ideas? I may have only 20 minutes to make my point.”

As soon as possible, he makes a written outline. “I’m always concerned about the organization of my presentation because it’s so technical. I go through days of preparation in my head,” he says. “I keep thinking, ‘Am I giving them enough background information, enough detail, too much detail?

“I try to find out who else is scheduled to be at the meeting and their present and past jobs in the organization. I make a lot of phone calls. What objections will they raise? How will I handle them?”

Once this man is speaking to the group, he continues to tailor his presentation based on the interaction in the room.

If someone raises a concern, he immediately adds material that will address the issue. He then shortens other information in order to stay within the time frame. His preparation is not over until the talk is over.

A successful account executive had this to say. “For me, it’s sort of easy to present to clients. I see it as simply a matter of doing my homework. I first find out what they need, what the goal of the meeting is. Am I doing a capabilities presentation or do they want me to bid on something specific?”

If the client wants a what-can-you-do-for-our-company presentation, this woman finds out about the company before making her pitch. If they want a bid on something specific, she finds out as much as possible about the whole project and how her part of the work will fit in.

Before the meeting, she outlines her presentation. “When I walk in, I know the steps I’m going through,” she says.

When a top compensations expert is asked to make a presentation about his products, he immediately starts asking questions such as: Who will be at the meeting? What do you want to hear?

He talks to as many people as possible within the company before outlining his plan.

“If the CEO is going to be there, I figure I have about 20 minutes, and I focus on the financial implications and impact to the company,” he says.

If he’s making the presentation to the people from the human resource department, the focus changes to benefits that the individual and company will derive.

He outlines with a co-worker what he will try to get across and decides what printed materials to take with him.

“Once I organize, I spend a lot of time playing it out in my head. I put myself in the client’s shoes. By the time I make the presentation, it’s sort of anticlimactic,” he says. “How well it goes is usually determined by my preparation.”

A woman who gives successful talks throughout the country says, “As soon as I make the commitment to give the talk, I’m nervous. I immediately start thinking about what I’m going to present. I start arranging topics to cover in my head.”

Before preparing her talk, she gets information about who her audience will be — how many people are expected to attend, their occupations, ages, the ratio of men to women.

She says the worst day for her is the day she actually sits down to write out the presentation. She does an extensive outline of what she wants to cover. She inserts examples that she thinks will be meaningful to her audience.

“No matter how many times I talk on a particular subject, I always start from scratch. I think this keeps my talks fresh and focused,” she says.

After outlining the material, she starts practicing in her head. How many times does she run through her speech? About 15 or 20 times in her head and about five times aloud.

She decides far in advance what she’ll wear. Then she uses a visualization technique. In her mind’s eye she sees herself giving the talk in the outfit she plans to wear. She also sees the audience smiling and laughing.

The day of her talk she gets to the auditorium 15 to 20 minutes before she’s scheduled to go on. This allows her to check out the room. Is the mike working? Is the projection computer set up? Will she stand in front of her audience or behind the lectern?

“Once I start the talk, it’s a piece of cake,” she says.

Success is no accident. People who are successful prepare and prepare and prepare.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,” and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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What goes through your mind in the weeks and days preceding a presentation or meeting with the big boss, a client, or a roomful of people?
prepare, presentation, mindset
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2017-13-20
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 10:13 AM
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