It is absolutely normal to be nervous before a presentation. When you stand up and it’s such a dead moment that you feel that every step you take gets you closer to purgatory.
You start sweating, everyone around starts whispering, and the guy in the back speaks louder. You’re holding an A4 sheet scribbled on both sides. Nobody else understands what you wrote there. And you’re walking … and walking … and you get to the front. They’re looking at you, you’re looking at them and you ask yourself “where did all these people come from?” One person in the first row raises an eyebrow as if they’re commenting about your clothes “couldn’t he have at least ironed his shirt?” You begin and…
I think that would be a moment that every one of us who have presented something at least once, has experienced. I admit it. I like presentations and I would gladly attend and talk at presentations.
When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to receive a homework that required a presentation. I used to take the homework …write it down… go home … and turn on the TV. I didn’t care that the presentation was so much work. I did not care that the teacher was the most dreadful man on Earth. I could find the topics in the book or on Google. And finally, why say stuff that people could read themselves? So I would always choose the way of making the presentations more interesting, let’s say weirder. Yes, I wanted my presentation to be as weird as possible.
Whatever I wanted, I usually found by watching TV. Energy, humor, stage presence, body language and the magical secret.
I can remember the presentation I had when I presented my final paper at college. It was about Obama’s first marketing campaign. I don’t know how others were but I’ve really learned something from that paper. It represented more than some meaningless words thrown somewhere on a paper. That was the moment when I realized even harder that I want to be in the marketing and social media industry.
And then the day when I was supposed to present my work came. My teacher hasn’t seen my presentation beforehand and I did not have the required number of slides. I made the layouts by myself in Photoshop and they contained almost no written text. I was simply excited about the result. I lived what I presented. And they had nothing to compare my paper with because at that moment there was no book whatsoever on Obama’s marketing campaign.
I put my energy into it, I talked to the class, I snuck a little humor there (by the way, don’t put humor in your final exam presentation: there are teachers who might not get it and you might get in trouble), due to my years of acting I knew how to move my body and my arms and the secret component was …. well it was magic.
Now let’s get back to our everyday work!
Many of you are marketers or advertisers that are going to clients/bosses to present an idea, a product, a campaign or a project. In some ways you’re right, you cannot put everything on the table for the client because there are some people so greedy that they will steal your idea. Or there are some other moments when you need a great story to tell your boss, but not too short and not too long. I completely understand this. But why don’t you give the customer just a small appetizer that will make him pay for the whole men?
So you want to know which is the only rule (that is not a secret) you need to know before you go on stage:
Just sell something that people want to buy!
And to make it even more easier for you to understand what is this all about, I will split this sentence in 3 points:
1. Sell Something
If you are a marketer, than you definitely want to sell something for somebody. So before you go up on the stage think about this “What will be the topic/product/idea that I want to sell?” And let’s get a little bit forward with the theory “I want to sell a dream”. A dream is not something that will get you money. You can sell time, as Uber does. You can sell connection, as Facebook does. You can sell productivity, as Apple does. So, what will you sell with your presentation?
Those who will listen to your presentation have their own agenda, their own context and their own culture. Think about is. All of them, even if they are 5, 10, 100, or 1000 people in the room, they gave you their time so now you need to give them something back. I know that there is a lot of pressure, but when you know what you want to sell, that means that you already know who they are, what they want and how they want it. So, who is your audience?
3. Want to buy
As I told you before, people present in that room are there because they gave you their time, so they want something back for that. The ball is in your court. You are on the stage and they are willing to listen to you. Make every second count, every slide in the presentation inspire. Use every answer and every moment to connect with your audience. Why? Because they want to buy something from you, and you need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Guess what, there are no secret steps to have a great, successful presentation.
There is only one way you can go, and this is by hard working, having patience and trying to gain as much experience you can.
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