I was lucky enough to present not once, but twice at this year’s Canon inkjet users thINK conference in beautiful and humid Boca Raton, FL this past week. Yes, I am allowed to call myself lucky, but you’re not as you can read in this post of mine.
In both cases, my presentations were collaborations with co-presenters, and in both cases, while I helped shape the narrative of the presentations, the content was not my own.
And I was nervous. I mean WICKED nervous, about standing up in front of a room full of people. Even though I had someone else there to share the stage, (and the blame if it went badly) I was a wreck.
And it wasn’t until after the fact that I realized why. Deborah Corn was also presenting at thINK, and she came up to me after the session I did with my partner and co-author Bill Farquharson and told me that she really enjoyed it. I told her that I was not that thrilled with my individual performance, and she replied, “You should NEVER put up a slide in a presentation unless you are 100% confident in what it says, and that you can talk about without having to look at the screen.”
It wasn’t that I was not confident in the overall theme of the presentation and the spirit of it, but the flow and the words were not mine. And I faltered at times. And I was sometimes clunky.
When I got home I feverishly began my presentation for Print 18, and it just flowed right out of me. I finished it in one day. And the next day, I did a dry run of it for some great clients. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I felt great. The idea was mine, the content was all mine, and that was all I needed to feel confident in my performance.
So, I thought of all of you out there who might be making presentations and might be using content that someone else created. And I feel for you. Until you make the presentation yours, either with your words or with the design and layout of the supporting slides themselves, you might find yourself in difficulty like I did.
I encourage you to evaluate how you are presenting and adjust to allow for your own voice and thoughts to be expressed. If there are elements of what you are saying that you are not comfortable with, get yourself, either through self-study or additional training from your co-workers, to a point where your confidence is high, and you feel like a subject matter ninja.
If you do not, DO NOT present. It is not worth making a mediocre showing when the time and attention of a client or prospect is this crucial.
If anyone gives you push back on this, tell him/her that it is everyone’s, especially the company’s, best interest to perform at the highest level with the highest confidence. You should be allowed to do whatever it takes to get yourself there. If s/he still pushes back, tell him/her to give me a call.
I’ll set ‘em straight.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcast From The Printerverse: Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.